The name tarantula is generally applied to any large, hairy spider, especially to the furry, bird eating spiders of South America.



Despite their name, bird-eating spiders only rarely eat a bird. Instead they usually feed on small lizards, baby snakes, amphibians, especially tree frogs, and small mammals, such as rodents. Smaller forest tarantulas and most of the desert species prey mainly on insects.

The spider spears its prey with its long fangs, injecting poison into the victim which paralyses it. The spider crushes its meal between its strong jaws, which move in an up and down movement, injecting a liquid which digests the victim's tissues. The spider then absorbs the resulting pulpy liquid. Tarantulas eat poisonous baby snakes, pouncing on them before they can bite.

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