A hobby classic, one might think Nhandu chromatus has been around a while. Yet under a different (erroneous) name it was introduced to the US as recently as 2000-2001, and not formally described until 2004 (Günter Schmidt). Before its description it was known as a look-alike, or doppelgänger, to Acanthoscurria geniculata; hence the title of Schmidt’s article: Der Doppelgänger von Acanthoscurria geniculata (C.L. KOCH, 1841) heißt Nhandu chromatus sp. n. (Araneae: Theraphosidae: Theraphosinae).
Some taxonomists dispute whether N. chromatus belongs in the Nhandu genus, noting features shared with Lasiodora and Vitalius sufficiently distinct to warrant a new genus. The other four Nhandu species have been found in a north-south corridor traversing mainly the Brazilian states of Pará, Tocantin, and Mato Grosso [LINK], with Nhandu carapoensis farthest south, endemic to Mato Grosso do Sul, São Paulo, and Paraguay.
A number of internet references say N. chromatus is found in Brazil and Paraguay rainforest, presumably meaning southern Brazil and Paraguay, which share a border. However, Schmidt states the type locality for N. chromatus is the state of Piauí, in eastern Brazil, also referencing the neighboring state of Ceará. In Piauí, one finds dry savannah (Cerrado) and, on the eastern Ceará side, dry scrub, a semi-desert known as Caatinga. The important point is that rather than rainforest, N. chromatus comes from Brazil’s semi-arid northeast, with seasonal rainfall and expanses of dry grassland dotted with small deciduous trees, merging into even drier areas with fewer trees, thorny scrub, and cacti.
The photo above shows an adult female.