'Blood, sweat and tears' - Wellington Zoo successfully breeds goliath birdeater tarantulas

Wellington Zoo is thrilled after successfully breeding goliath birdeater tarantulas, welcoming a clutch of new baby spiders after a mammoth effort from keepers.

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It's the first Australasian zoo to do so, and believed to be the only in the world in the last 20 years. Source: Supplied

While he admits spiders can give many people the creepy crawlies, reptiles and invertebrates team leader Dave Lux has dedicated his life to them.

They're embracing the new spider babies, born after a lot of "blood, sweat and tears" from the keepers.

"Trying to breed this species is extremely challenging," he told 1 NEWS.

It's believed to be the first time in almost 20 years that a zoo has successfully bred the tarantulas, and the first ever in Australasia.

And it wasn't easy.

The male and female spiders need to sync up: mature males are only able to breed for six to 10 months after becoming sexually active, while the females are only active after moulting, which happens around once every two years.

They're also quite sensitive, Mr Lux says.

"The slightest disturbance, the smallest vibration, the smallest flash of light is enough to spook a female and if that happens, she'll consume her egg sac and you're back to square one."

The goliath birdeater tarantula is the largest spider in the world, around 30cm across and weighing up to 175 grams.

Mr Lux admits people may find it strange that so much effort has been invested in the creepy crawlies.

"You never have to work that hard to sell a rhino, people fall in love. But many people are terrified of spiders, they're really alien to them and make their skin crawl," he says.

"I've really tried to dedicate my life to standing up for the little guy, these guys are so important and essential but we're seeing them dwindle to obscurity because they don't have the cute and cuddly factor."

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Wellington Zoo isn't sure when they'll be able to display the new babies.

But once they're big and strong enough, members of the public will be able to see the history-making arachnids.