Hysterocrates gigas is a member of the tarantula family, Theraphosidae found in Cameroon. It is known as the giant baboon spider or Cameroon red baboon spider.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Mygalomorphae
- Family: Theraphosidae
- Genus: Hysterocrates
- Species: H. gigas
- Binomial name: Hysterocrates gigas
Cameroon has a tropical climate, humid in the south but increasingly dry to the north. On the coast the average annual rainfall is about 4,060 mm (about 160 in). On the exposed slopes of the Cameroon Mountains in the west, rainfall is almost constant and sometimes reaches 10,160 mm (400 in) a year. In the semiarid northwest annual rainfall averages about 380 mm (about 15 in). A dry season in the north lasts from October to April.
The Cameroon Red is a very reclusive tarantula. It will dig some pretty elaborate burrows and tunnels and remain there most of the time. This is not a great display tarantula. Cork bark is a shelter they will appreciate as well. Sometimes, they will just burrow down one of the corners of a tank, which makes them visible even while in seclusion.
They will often venture out at night, and certainly at feeding time. Like most tarantulas, they do not like bright light. While normally shy, if provoked, this tarantula becomes a super aggressive beast! They will rear up and strike repeatedly, and hard, much like a cobra. I have even seen them flop over on their back and kick their legs much like a child throwing a temper tantrum! This is not a beginner’s species due to their aggressive nature.
It is also worth noting, that these tarantulas can seem almost lethargic, but can move with alarming speed. Not much is known about the venom of this species. From my research, I would rank it’s potency as greater than your typical “New World” species, but less toxic than say, a poecilotheria. In any event, I would not want to take a bite from this species and always use care when working in its cage.
This species lives in tropical and sub-tropical environments. According to Sam Marshall, they dig particularly intricate burrows. They need temperatures of 70 – 95 degrees F. and high humidity in their environment (between 60%-90%). They are naturally found at ground level in tropical rain forests.
These tarantulas will eat other invertebrates, such as crickets, cockroaches, butterflies, moths and other spiders or small vertebrates, such as mice, lizards, frogs, snakes and occasionally birds. They are also known to be one of the only swimming spiders and will occasionally dive to catch fish. They kill their prey with their venom, inject digestive juices into the body of their prey and suck up the resulting liquid.
I did know that they were eating well. Twice a week or so, I would drop in a cricket, and it was almost always gone by morning. On the rare instance that the prey item was still there the next day, I would just assume the spider was in premolt and wait a week to try again. Due to the amount they were eating, I guessed that they had to have put on quite a bit of size during this period. However, the fleeting glimpses I was able to catch of them made it difficult to assess their size.
As most tarantulas this is a very big insectivore. A steady diet of crickets, cockroaches, locusts, super worms and meal worms should keep this spider well fed. Though they can and have been known to eat small mice and lizards we recommend not feeding them to your tarantula. There is much debate as to the amount of calcium buildup these animals can end up accumulating (by eating said lizards and mice) in their exoskeleton which can prevent a successful molt.
Hysterocrates gigas images