Screw Ebola, We’ve Got Puppy-Sized Spiders To Worry About

Move over, Ebola. There’s a new terror-inducing menace in town: puppy-sized spiders.

While walking in a South American rain forest, Scientist Piotr Naskrecki heard a strange rustling on the jungle-floor. But rather than stumbling upon a Mega Python or a Gatoroid, as one would expect, Naskrecki found himself face-to-face (or at least shin-to-face) with a puppy-sized South American Goliath birdeater (a.k.a. Theraphosa blondi, which is Latin for “Holy sh*t, run!”).

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Despite the spider’s imposing size (30 centimeters) and overall horrifying appearance, Naskrecki did not defecate himself while flailing his arms in panic. Instead, he moved in for a closer inspection of the “cute” arachnid. That’s when the creature decided to shoot a cloud of tiny hairs into his eyeballs.

Every time I got too close to the birdeater it would do three things. First, the spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. “Oh, how cute!”, I thought when I first saw this adorable behavior, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days.

Once a puppy-sized spider shoots “urticating hair” into your eyes, it’s probably time to call it a day. But Naskrecki didn’t take the hint, and kept pestering the beast.

If that wasn’t enough, the arachnid would rear its front legs and open its enormous fangs, capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull, and tried to jab me with the pointy implements. The venom of a birdeater is not deadly to humans but, in combination with massive puncture wounds the fangs were capable of inflicting, it was definitely something to be avoided. And then there was a loud hissing sound. For a long time the source of the sound was a mystery, but now we know that it is produced by “setal entanglement” – some of the hairs (setae) on the legs are covered with microscopic hooks that scrape against other, feather-like setae, producing the loud warning hiss.

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Skull-puncturing fangs, hissing sounds, microscopic hook hairs: clearly, this is a spider that wants to be left alone. But Naskrecki decided to tempt fate once again, and captured the specimen in order to further investigate it in his lab. And while most sane people feel they owe him a debt of gratitude for putting that monstrosity behind bars, Naskrecki claims he has received several death threats from pro-spider whack jobs. But the threats haven’t deterred our fearless scientist, who is now trying to cash in on his viral story by selling t-shirts and mugs bearing the likeness of his new pet (which has since been moved to a museum). At this rate, it’s only a mater of time before this puppy-sized spider is sucking the liquefied organs out of Grumpy Cat. (H/T Foxnews, Source: The Smaller Majority)