• The Brazilian salmon pink birdeater (Lasiodora parahybana) is a member of the Theraphosidae family of spiders, commonly known as tarantulas. There are about 900 species of tarantulas, and they are present on every continent except Antarctica.

    The birdeater is native to the Atlantic forest region of South America, which is largely in Brazil but extends into Argentina and Paraguay. This region is known to be incredibly biodiverse, with around 20,000 unique species of plants and many endemic species.

    Compared to similar spider species, the Brazilian salmon pink birdeater stays outside its den more where it hunts. It can move swiftly, and as a defense mechanism it will flick off sharp, barbed hairs from its hind legs and abdomen.

    It is an ambush predator and will strike its prey and inject paralyzing venom with its fangs. It then releases fluids that help partially digest its meal, before drawing the digested tissues up into the mouth.

    Despite its name, it has rarely been observed to prey on small birds. It does, however, have salmon hairs around its legs and abdomen. The salmon hairs on the female are replaced with more reddish highlights.

    Although the birdeater population is not classified as endangered, its Atlantic forest habitat is under severe threat from deforestation from logging and land conversion to pasture, agriculture, forest plantations, and urban areas. Very little is known about the overall population size of this spider. Like many tarantula species, it is kept as a pet by many people.

    1. How does the Brazilian salmon pink birdeater defend itself when being attacked or threatened?

      The Brazilian salmon pink birdeater defends itself by releasing hairs (called utricating hairs) off its legs and abdomen. These hairs can get embedded in the other animal's skin or eyes, causing physical irritation, which is sometimes severe. The hairs can be released through direct contact but also from the spider using its legs to flick them at a potential predator. This behavior is common amongst species of tarantulas. The spider will also uses its fangs to deliver a bite if the utricating hairs do not sufficiently drive off the threat.

    2. What is the purpose of molting in spiders?

      Molting is part of the growth process in spiders. Periodically, they will shed an exoskeleton to make room for more growth as a new soft, pliable exoskeleton emerges beneath it. Adult Brazilian salmon pink birdeaters will molt about once per year, and it is a multi-hour process that is mainly accomplished with the spiders laying on their backs.

    3. What does the Brazilian pink salmon birdeater prey on?

      Despite its name, birds are not the primary prey of this spider species, although hunting small birds is certainly possible. The birdeater is known to mainly hunt and feed on large insects and occasionally amphibians and small reptiles.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abdomen Noun

    belly, or the part of an animal containing its stomach, intestines, and liver.

    ambush Verb

    to attack suddenly and by surprise.

    biodiversity Noun

    all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity
    endemic Adjective

    native to a specific geographic space.

    molt Verb

    to shed fur, skin, feathers, or other body covering.

    urticating hairs Plural Noun

    barbed hairs on arachnids and insects that act as a defense against predators.