Top 10 biggest spiders in the world

Spiders: not everyone is afraid of them. In fact, some people like to approach and measure our eight-legged friends in order to find out which is the biggest spider in the world. In some cases this can be extremely brave, some quite venomous species with very sharp teeth (which don’t like to be poked and prodded) are on this list.

We’d like to point out, though, that most of these spiders aren’t the kind you see on your bedroom wall at night, so don’t worry about having a massive bird-eating guest.

Like your mother always says, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.

10. Sand Dwelling Hunter Spider – Cerbalus aravaensis

A sandhunter spider (Cerbalus aravaensis), photographed in the sands of Samar, Israel. Photo by Mickey Samuni-Blank

This hunting spider is found in the sand dunes of southern Israel and Jordan, and an adult can have a leg span of up to 14 cm. It is a nocturnal species that lives in an underground den, sheltered from predators.

9. Brazilian wandering spider – Phoneutria will do

A wandering spider (Phoneutria faire) photographed in the Peruvian jungle. These arachnids are believed to have one of the strongest venoms among spiders. Photo by Alamy

This highly venomous species spends much of its early years hiding in vegetation, but likes to crawl on the ground once it is large enough. The wandering spider’s legs can also reach 15cm, so it should be fairly easy to spot an adult in daylight.

8. Camel spider – Solifugae

A camel spider (Solifugae), photographed in Panna, Madhya Pradesh, India. Photo by Getty Images

The camel spider is not a spider at all, strictly speaking, because it does not weave a web. Technically, it’s not a scorpion either, as it doesn’t have a tail section on its body. But it is an arachnid with 8 legs, and these legs can extend up to 15 cm.

7. Giant Colombian Red-Legged Tarantula – Megaphobema robustum

Colombian giant red-legged spider (Megaphobema robustum), photographed in Colombia. Photo by Jorge Garcia/VW PICS/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

As spiders get bigger, they also tend to get hairier. This aptly named ‘redleg’ spider is a beautiful creature, with amazing markings. They feed on large insects and small mice and live in the tropical rainforests of South America. Although they are quite large (with a leg span of up to 16cm), they are shy and defensive in nature.

6. Face-sized Tarantula – Poecilotheria rajaei

The recently discovered face-sized tarantula (Poecilotheria rajaei), a species native to Sri Lanka and India. Photo by Ranil Nanayakkara/British Tarantula Society

As the name of this tarantula suggests, its 20cm leg span is large enough to cover an entire human face. Anyone can guess why you would let this get close to you. It was first listed in 2012 and carries enough venom to kill small rodents and lizards.

5. Chaco Golden-kneed Tarantula – Grammostola pulchripes

A chaco golden knee tarantula (Grammostola pulchripes) rests on a log. Photo by Getty Images

The beautiful golden tarantula lives up to its name, with beautiful markings on its limbs. The span of the legs of the spider can reach 17-20 cm, and it is equipped with large fangs. However, it is another species that is popular as a pet, due to its calm nature.

4. Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantula – Grammostola anthracina

A Brazilian giant fawn red tarantula (Grammostola anthracina) walking on the ground. Photo by Shutterstock

Inhabiting large areas of South America, the giant tawny red tarantula is considered one of the most long-lived tarantulas, with some being able to live for up to 20 years. With a leg span of up to 23 cm, it is also one of the largest species.

More images from BBC Science Focus:

3. Brazilian Bird-eating Tarantula – Lasiodora parahybana

Close up of a male salmon pink bird-eating spider (Lasiodora parahybana). Photo by George Chernilevsky

This species is quite docile, hence its popularity as a pet. It will only deliver a nasty bite if provoked, and even that is not dangerous to humans. Males tend to have longer legs and their wingspan can reach up to 28 cm.

2. Goliath Bird-eating Tarantula – Theraphosa blondi

An image of a goliath bird-eating spider (Theraphosa blondi). Photo by Didier Descouens

Despite its creepy name, this spider species rarely hunts or feeds on birds. What is formidable is a leg span of up to 28 cm. Unlike many other spiders and tarantulas, females do not eat males during mating.

1. Giant Hunter Spider – Heteropoda maxima

A giant huntsman spider (Heteropoda maxima) photographed inside a cave in Nong Ping, Laos. Photo by Alamy

The largest spider on our list, the giant hunter can have a leg span of up to 30cm. The species is mainly found in Laos and is thought to live mainly in caves.

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