Brazilian Wandering Spider

About the Brazilian Wandering Spider

The Brazilian Wandering Spider is the name of many spider species in the Phoneutria genus. They are large, intimidating, and infamous for the most toxic spider venom in the world. These spiders actually occur in many areas outside of Brazil, from Costa Rica to Argentina. Nevertheless, the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) is the best known member of this group of eight species. This is because it lives near humans and occasionally bites people. It is a familiar spider in many parts of Brazil. It actively searches for prey instead of waiting at a spider web. That is where it gets its name: Brazilian Wandering Spider.

Brazilian wandering spider
Brazilian wandering spider

The Brazilian Wandering Spider doesn’t actually occur in the Tambopata rainforest. However,  there are at least two other closely related species that live in the Peruvian jungle around the Rainforest Expeditions lodges. Despite the hype that the Brazilian Wandering Spider receives from the press, this creature rarely bites people. The species in the Tambopata rainforest do their best to stay hidden at all times. The wandering spiders of Tambopata are food for large birds and peccaries. Thus, they would much rather hide in the leaf litter than rush out and bite someone.

Guests of Posada Amazonas, Refugio Amazonas, and the Tambopata Research Center usually encounter wandering spiders on night hikes in the rainforest. Getting bit by one is extremely unlikely unless you try to pick the spider up or stick your hands into leaf litter, bromeliads, or under fallen logs.

How to identify a Brazilian Wandering Spider

How to Identify the Brazilian Wandering Spider
Brazilian Wandering Spider by Techuser (Wikimedia Commons)

To learn to identify falcons download our illustrated plates and our photographic guide to Amazon Jungle Animals.

A few interesting facts about the Brazilian Wandering Spider:

  • Most toxic spider venom known: The venom of at least one species of Phoneutria is much more toxic than the Black Widow Spider and can easily kill mice with one bite. Human fatalities in Brazil are an extremely rare occurrence.
  • No web: Unlike many other spiders, the wandering spiders don’t build webs but actively search for their prey.
  • The banana spider: Wandering spiders  occasionally turn up in shipments of bananas! One such stowaway actually bit a man in England in 2005. He survived but spent a week in the hospital!
  • Understory predator: These spiders are active, aggressive predators that feed on large insects, small lizards, mice, and frogs.

How to see Brazilian Wandering Spider when taking an Amazon adventure tour:

  • Go on a night hike: These large spiders are most active at night. We have nightly hikes in the rainforest with trained guides so you can see wandering spiders and other nocturnal jungle animals.
  • Sign up for a Free Trial of the Amazoncam: even if jungle travel is not in your short-term plans you can connect with jungle wildlife. Sign-up for your free trial of the Wired Amazon and help us identify the jungle wildlife that is on photos from our 20 square kilometer grid of 78 cameras snapping away in the middle of the Amazon jungle.
  • And of course, if you´re thinking (or even dreaming) of Amazon jungle Travel,  drop by to chat with the Amazon Travel experts. We will help you get there.


As Seen in

National Geographic
The Huffington Post
yahoo News
Popular Science