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Care Sheet

Cameroon Red Baboon Spider (Hysterocrates gigas)

by Jeff Otworth

This is a large African burrower indigenous to the West African countries of Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and Zaire. It was first described by Pocock in 1897. This tarantula is often commonly called the "tawny red" baboon. This Tarantula has varied colorations depending on itís molting cycle. Just after a fresh molt, it is generally pretty much black looking, it will gradually turn a reddish brown color and even pick up some orange coloration prior to molt. This Tarantula is not "striking" in appearance, but very beautiful in itís own way. It generally looks "tawny red" hence, the common name. They have thick rear legs which are believed to aid them in burrowing, though not as pronounced as the "King Baboon". As with all tarantulas, it is very important to research their natural habitat so that you can duplicate it as much as possible in captivity. This will keep your tarantula from being stressed and more happy, which in turn, will lead to a longer life. The Cameroon Red is a burrower in a tropical environment. It is very important to provide a suitable depth of substrate and humidity to properly care for this tarantula.

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 beginnerís 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 itís 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.

These tarantulas are fast growing and will attain a maximum leg span of 6 to 6.5 inches. They will attack and eat anything that moves.

Food: Crickets, cockroaches, superworms, pinkies, and small fuzzy mice.

Note on roaches: avoid catching these on your own or any other food source outdoors, as they may be laden with pesticides that can harm or even kill your tarantula.

Note on mice: If you feed your tarantula mice your probably not squeamish, so I advise knocking them unconscious, mice have teeth and will defend themselves which can injure your tarantula. Please note in some countries it is illegal to feed live mice to another creature. To avoid possible prosecution, please only feed pre-killed prey to your arachnids.

Housing Requirements: These tarantulas need to be able to burrow. I use a 10 gallon aquarium with 7" of peat moss/ potting soil mix. I have a live African Violet planted inside which makes the aquarium look nice. This tarantula will often hang out around this plant during pre-molt. A larger tank with even deeper substrate can be used, but I would not use less than a 10 gallon tank once the tarantula reaches sub adult size and up.

Temperature: 80-85 degrees is best.

Humidity: Keep humidity high, 80-90%. I use a Mayonnaise jar lid for a water dish, Always clean and full. I water the Violet every couple days and mist the substrate, not to the point where mold develops, but it is not dusty. I mist daily.

Growth: This is a fast growing species, they can molt 6-8 times in their first year easily if you feed them daily up to pre-molt. Males will mature in a year, 2 years tops. Females will mature in 2-4 years. Males will live 2-4 years, females have been known to live up to 16 years but 12 would be average. Expect this tarantula to molt once a year after the first year, females may molt twice a year until they reach maturity. Mine did.

Cleaning: It is very important to keep a clean tank. I try to keep prey from going into burrows. That is why I often feed this species pinkies. It is important to remove leftover food items as these can attract mites. Keep the water dish clean. I remove food leftovers with salad tongs. Crickets have a tendency to hop right to the tarantula in itís burrow. You will have to dig around a little to remove unused food items. Use tongs of some type. Change substrate every 6 months to ensure a clean, healthy tank.

Handling: There is no need to handle a Cameroon Red. They are very defensive and can be downright hostile. They can and will inflict a painful bite. Enjoy these from a distance.

Make sure your lid on the tank is securely shut at all times.

For more info feel free to contact me:

[Some additional information/modifications by Martin Overton]

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