Their body is covered in a hard exoskeleton that they shed when they grow – they can even regrow any missing legs!
They’re covered in itchy, pinkish hair that they’ll flick at predators to distract them
One was recorded eating a hummingbird, which gave them their name, but they’ll usually eat insects, amphibians and small reptiles.
The species was first discovered in 1917 by Cândido Firmino de Mello-Leitão, a Brazilian zoologist who is considered the founder of Arachnology in South America.
These tarantulas live in burrows, and don’t use webs to catch their prey like house spiders. But they do sometimes leave a strand of web outside their burrow to alert them to prey! They have long fangs and venom to paralyze and catch their prey. Their venom is painful but isn’t fatal to humans, and they’re most likely to run away from you or flick their irritating hairs. Sometimes they also kick these hairs onto their webbing or burrow and can be brushed up into the air if disturbed.
The females are much larger than the males, but often less vibrant in colour. During breeding, the female will sometimes eat the male if he is too slow to run away! This large meal then sustains the next generation of tarantulas. The egg sack can contain up to 2,000 eggs though not all of these make it to adulthood. Baby tarantulas are often called spiderlings or ‘slings’.
Come and see the world’s largest spider at Spirit of the Jaguar!
Latin America is home to some of the most extraordinary wildlife! Visit this amazing indoor habitat to see our jaguar, sloths and of course the Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula… if you dare!