You may or may not be thrilled to hear that Newquay Zoo has welcomed the world’s heaviest spider - a Goliath bird-eating spider.

The as yet nameless female arachnid - a type of tarantula - has settled in well. It’s small comfort to know that the name is misleading, as this spider rarely feeds on birds, but eats insects and other invertebrates instead. An adult Goliath birdeater can weigh in at a spine tingling 170 grams – that’s the weight of a hamster.

The Cornish zoo has previously homed these impressive creatures, and staff are excited about reintroducing them to the collection. Newquay Zoo’s Curator of Animals John Meek: “Whilst we appreciate that these aren’t everyone’s idea of cute and cuddly, they are fascinating creatures and we are thrilled to be working with them.”

The species can moult its entire exoskeleton –the hard outer skeletal structure. This animal has just done exactly that - including her 2.5-inch-long fangs and the barbed hairs on her legs. When threatened, the Goliath spider flicks these hairs at predators – they can cause skin irritations and can be very harmful to mucous glands in the eye. Moulting allows the spider to grow, and to regenerate broken limbs.

Her leg span is currently an alarming 9 inches, and will continue to grow. This species is second only to the giant huntsman spider in terms of leg span. The Goliath comes from the upland rainforest regions of Suriname, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela. It lives in burrows, is found in marshes and swamps and is nocturnal.

The charity zoo’s Goliath bird-eating spider can be spotted – if you really want to see her - in the Tropical House.

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