What Does The Huntsman Spider Eat? Shocking Answer

If you are thinking of keeping a huntsman spider as a pet, you might want to know: what does the huntsman spider eat? Well, here is the shocking answer to that question.

When Justine Latton and her husband decided to spend a relaxing weekend at a ski lodge, the last thing on their mind was that they would encounter a giant, possum-eating spider.

But that’s the exact frightening sight they witnessed in their hotel room – a pygmy possum’s body hanging from the mouth of a giant huntsman spider.

So what are Huntsman spiders? What do they eat? Do they eat animals like possums, and can they be harmful to dogs or cats in the house? Can they try to eat humans as well?

While there are several species of spiders, giant huntsman spiders can grow to be as big as 2.5 inches long, with a leg span of up to 13 inches long, about the size of a dinner plate! They are about the largest spiders in the world. You may also know them by their nicknames, giant crab spiders and wood spiders.

Let’s take a look at what these fearsome spiders like to eat.

What Does The Huntsman Spider Eat

What Do Huntsman Spiders Eat?

Huntsman spiders love to chase their prey. They are one of the fastest spiders (in comparison with body size) and use their superior speed to their advantage in a hunt.

They use their strong, pincer-like mouthparts known as chelicerae to bite and inject venom into their prey. While this can be a terrifying thought, huntsman spiders are actually very good for pest control. They eat many types of pests, such as cockroaches and even other spiders. They also eat worms, other arthropods, and larger animals like frogs. We cover this in detail below.

Insects

Insects are the bread and butter of huntsman spiders. These giant spiders like to munch on basically anything they can get their legs on. Some of their favorite foods are:

Cockroaches: Well, you and I may be disgusted by roaches, but huntsman spiders consider them a delicacy. Roaches are full of important nutrients, so they are a favorite food for the huntsmans. Roaches are slower and duller than huntsman spiders, so if you have a major cockroach infestation, the huntsman spider might be a great friend to you.

Ants: Ants are packed with protein, but these little creatures are too small to be a whole meal. In most cases, huntsman spiders will only go after ants if they want a bit of a snack between meals.

Flies & Moths: Huntsman spiders are nocturnal hunters, so moths are one of the easiest prey available for them. While flies are a tough catch, if nothing else is available, huntsman spiders will go after them with gusto.

Crickets & Others: Crickets are easily available and are easy to catch as well. In fact, huntsman spiders will go after anything else that they see nearby, as long as it is easy to catch.

Worms

Worms are perhaps the easiest food for spiders. Wax worms and smaller worms aren’t fast, and neither do they have any reflexes of which to speak.

Huntsman spiders even use hunting techniques such as creating burrows in the ground to attract these creatures and then kill them.

The only thing that stops giant huntsman spiders from eating more worms is that these hapless creatures are often underground, making it harder to find them.

Other Spiders

Huntsman spiders are pretty huge as compared to normal ones. So sometimes, the biggest huntsman spiders will kill and eat other smaller spiders as well.

After all, they are bigger, faster, meaner, and smarter – so why not use that advantage to weed out the weaklings of their species? However, this is not a popular form of food for them. They only go after other spiders if there is no other option.

They hunt other spiders just like they do with other insects – they wait for them and then ambush them when they are not looking. If the prey runs off, they will use their superior speed to chase them down and get the job done.

What Does The Huntsman Spider Eat

Lizards and Frogs

We started the blog with the frightening instance of a huntsman devouring a pygmy possum. While that’s an unusual event, these dangerous spiders can definitely go after animals bigger than themselves, such as frogs and lizards.

They use their superior hunting skill by ambushing these animals and injecting venom into their bodies. That’s how they are able to fight off and kill such large creatures.

Huntsman venom acts in two ways on the prey’s body – it immobilizes it and also starts to liquefy the body, making it easier to eat the prey.

What Environment Do They Live In?

Huntsman spiders are native to Australia, Africa, and South America. You can find these spiders under rocks, under the barks of trees, in small crevices in walls, and under foliage.

Huntsmans are social spiders. You can see many of them sitting under the stumps of old trees, and especially inside the rotting bark of trees.

In places where they cross the paths of humans, these spiders love getting into houses, especially inside cars.

In fact, there have been several such scares for drivers in Australia where a huntsman spider is running across their car’s dashboard as they are driving.

How Do Huntsman Spiders Reproduce?

Huntsman spiders have long and cumbersome mating rituals. There is a lot of PDA involved as the male and female feel each other out before getting into the act.

The male of the species uses his pedipalps (antennae-like things in the front) to drum against trees and show off his prowess. He then inserts them into the female to pass on his seed.

Huntsman spiders lay as many as 200 eggs in one go. They protect these eggs by spinning a silk web around them, making something like a sac.

Typically, huntsman moms are dedicated ones. They guard their egg sac fiercely, and some even carry it around with them under their belly.

Others hide the eggs under tree bark or a rock and then stand guard until the eggs hatch, which might take up to 3 weeks. When they know the babies are about to come out, they will often tear open the silk sac they made for protection.

Mama huntsmans sit around with the babies for a few weeks till they molt and take the grey color that adults have. A huntsman spider can live for about two years in the wild.

What Does The Huntsman Spider Eat

Frequently Asked Questions

Can huntsman spiders eat birds?

Yes, the giant huntsman spiders are quite capable of eating small birds, the same size as a frog or a lizard, if they can move fast enough to inject their venom into them. Another spider that can eat birds is the goliath “Birdeater” spider, which is a type of tarantula.

What do huntsman spiders eat in the house?

Huntsman spiders eat insects such as cockroaches, flies, moths, and worms that are running around the house, minding their own business. These spiders are so good at insect control that some pest removal professionals suggest you keep them around if you have them.

How often does a huntsman spider eat?

Huntsman spiders can eat two to three meals a week. Each meal would consist of an entire insect such as a cockroach or sometimes even a lizard. These spiders love to launch surprise attacks on unsuspecting prey and finish them off quickly with their venom.

Are huntsman spiders friendly?

Huntsman spiders are typically not aggressive if humans are around, but if you cross paths with a female protecting her eggs, then it might attack you. Typically, these creatures don’t pose too much of a problem for humans.

Wrap Up

We hope you learned more about the amazing things these large spiders can eat. While you won’t find them eating possums every day, be aware that huntsman spiders can kill and eat bigger things than worms or roaches. 

They are mostly harmless to humans, but if you find a female huntsman protecting her eggs, you might be in for a tough time.

Thank you for reading the article!

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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10 thoughts on “What Does The Huntsman Spider Eat? Shocking Answer”

  1. I seen one just like this when I lived in Fallon, NV. It was big. The body was about half the size of a 12oz soda can. I seen it at night in the summer, but I never seen one that big after that.

    Reply
  2. A friend of mine had a Solifugid in a lizard tank. The thing was about six inches long and had red-tipped mandibles. We speculated that it was a mutation that resulted from nuclear testing near Fallon.

    Reply
    • Could it have been smuggled in from the Middle East? You did not provide a location for the sighting, but we know of no Solifugids that size in North America.

      Reply
  3. The huntsman now belongs to the family Sparassidae, not Heteropoda venatoria. The photo above shows a specimen with only six legs, no doubt two lost in combat; I found one in similar condition recently. I wonder if it can survive on six legs, it will have a harder time chasing down cockroaches and geckos (I’m betting it lost legs in tussles with geckos). It can inflict a painful, venomous bite, and when picked up tends to “cling” to one’s hand, and then you’re more likely to be bitten. I leave any I find alone; I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me, and meanwhile they’re eating things I like much less, cockroaches.

    Reply
  4. We find them in our area too, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. I do not kill them because I know they eat the ants and cockroaches. I wasn’t aware that they attack geckos. I find they are a shy spider. They mostly live in my bathroom under the sink and very seldom see them. Kate

    Reply
  5. We have them here in the Kalibo area, Aklan, Panay, too. The males are smaller, more gracile than the females which can get HUGE.

    Reply
  6. I currently have one, my in house pest control, he just shed his skin. I call him Arnold lol. Not shy but easily startle by closing doors. he lives near my trash can. Location: Baguio

    Reply
  7. I just got ready to take a shower in San Antonio Burgos Zambales Luzon Philippines and there was a 4.5-5-inches Dark Reddish Brown Male in the bathtub. I put it in a plastic Folgers Coffee container, handed to my wife to put outdoors, and my Auntie was too quick to kill it, as I yelled from the stairs, “Don’t kill it, it’s harmless!” Too late 🥴

    I don’t kill beneficial creatures or arachnids that eat the local cockroaches and Budakit (Gecko).

    Reply

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