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Common Name: Wandering Spider

Scientific Name: Phoneutria nigriventer


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthroproda

Class: Arachnid

Order: Araneae

Family: Ctenidae

Genus: Phoneutria

Species: P. nigriventer


The wandering spider is an aggressive and highly venomous spider. The phoneutria nigriventer is one of the very few inductees in the Guinness Book of World Records. The wandering spider can extend its leg span up to 4-5 inches of length. They are large spiders who have eight eyes of which two are larger than the rest. The wandering spider can reach speeds of 13-14mph. An interesting fact about this spider is that when it becomes angered its jaws turn red. The color of this spider is mostly black and has red legs with black tips. One adaptation of the wandering spider is that it uses its venom to fight off predators and to catch prey. Some characteristics of this spider are that it is nervous, aggressive, and smart.


The wandering spider is found in the tropical and subtropical regions in South America. Though it is mostly found in South America it also hitchhikes on banana boats to North America. That is where it gets its nickname of the “Banana Spider”. Also, it lives in people’s houses in the rainforest. It hides in small holes or in their apparel such as shoes or purses. They choose this environment because they can easily hide and catch prey in the forests. This is a major threat for residents in South America because the banana spider is not afraid of humans and will bite them severely. It not known how many wandering spiders theree are actually are in the world, but there are 400 species of this spider. The population of this animal is growing slowly over time due to large amounts of wandering spiders known to start mating with different kinds of spiders such as tarantulas. As the years pass by, the wandering spider will probably be better known because of the high rate of reports it has gotten in the past 5 years.


Wandering spiders usually catch their prey during the afternoon or dawn. They sneak up on their prey and bite it to weaken it or sometimes just swallow it whole. The banana spider’s role in the food web is above all insects and even above other large spiders. The only other animal that the wandering spider competes for food with is its own kind. Actually, some larger wandering spiders eat smaller ones if they cannot find other prey around them or in their environment. The wandering spider is a predator. It eats birds, mice, snakes, lizards, and other spiders. Its diet consists of flightless fruit flies, pinhead crickets, small lizards, and pinkie mice. The only animals that eat the wandering spider as prey are other wandering spiders. The wandering spider avoids trying to get eaten by injecting venom in its predator which weakens or in most cases kills the predator. The wandering spider can reach its adulthood in 4-6 weeks. If you ever come across one of these and decide to keep it, stay very vigilant and alert at all times when around it. In conclusion, the wandering spider is probably not an animal you would want to come across or keep as a pet because it is not very friendly and will kill you.


Author: Harwant K.

Published: 02/2008



Photo Credit: Jon Fouskaris

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