Hysterocrates gigas (Cameroon rusty red baboon) from the South East Region, Cameroon, captive bred. This large, central African fossorial has stout rear legs, presumably for excavating. Thrives in slightly higher humidity. Recommended for intermediate and advanced hobbyists.
Central and west Africa quarter all 25 described species of Hysterocrates (World Spider Catalogue, 2020). Of these, hobbyists commonly keep two, Hysterocrates gigas and Hysterocrates laticeps. In 1897 Pocock described H. gigas from a British Museum specimen collected in “the Cameroons.” He mentions a mutilated example in the museum’s collection, “apparently of this species,” locality “Oil River” .
In 1990, A. M. Smith redescribed H. gigas, noting a female specimen deposited in 1933, found under a termite mound in “Tinta Valley, Assumbo, Manife [sic] district, Cameroons, 2,200 feet“(left) .*
The village of Tinta is remote and difficult to access. Located in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, specifically Soutwest’s Manyu Division, Tinta lies just outside the northeast corner of Takamanda National Park. Takamanda is home to the increasingly rare Cross River gorilla. Dermacating the boundary between southern rain forest and northern savanna, Tinta also sits on a hydrological divide, between Niger and Cross River watersheds north and south .
The Oil River is not shown on modern maps and the following explains why:
“…palm oil to which the trade of the English protectorate, centred on the Calabar [i.e. Cross] river, owes its prosperity, originates here and gave the Cross River its other name, the Oil River [as all the navigable rivers between the Niger and the Cross were usually called]” .
The Niger and Cross Rivers were highways of the palm oil industry at the turn of the century. In Cameroon the Cross River (Oil River) basin extends up through Takamanda to Tinta. From Tinta to the Cross River to the ocean, an astounding 80-120 inches of rain fall annually.
Hysterocrates gigas characteristics
An obligate burrower, captive H. gigas is a bulldozer that over time rearranges most of its substrate. Like its Pelinobius and Theraphosa cousins, H. gigas is somewhat drought intolerant. Captive specimens will crawl, unprovoked, in and out of water, possibly an evolutionary adaptation to seasonally flooded burrows. Hysterocrates laticeps also exhibits this behavior (Melody Frasier, personal communication).
Peaceful subsocial living has been demonstrated for H. gigas . Some hobbyists report peaceful group living beyond the juvenile stage. Others report less success.
Freshly molted specimens are contrasting shades of grey. At late stages in the molt cycle, semi-adults and adults turn rusty, reddish brown. With moderate attention to prevent desiccation, H. gigas is easy to keep and breed.
The first photo above shows an adult female with offspring, intermolt; second an adult female, recent molt, eating posture. The spiderlings offered here were bred from field-collected adults, resolving issues of hybridization.
*In reference , “Manife” is a typographical error; it should read Mamfe. Similarly, I. Sanderson not “Mr. J. Sanderson” collected the Tinta female. Ivan T. Sanderson’s 1932-1933 expedition to Cameroon resulted in several new animal species. His collecting expedition to Tinta was published in 1937.
 Pocock, R. I. (1897b). On the spiders of the suborder Mygalomorphae from the Ethiopian Region, contained in the collection of the British Museum. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 65(3): 724-774, Pl. XLI-XLIII.
 Smith, A. M. (1990c). Baboon spiders: Tarantulas of Africa and the Middle East. Fitzgerald Publishing, London. pp. 1-142.
 Wilson, D. E. & Reeder, D. M. (Eds.). (2005). Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), Johns Hopkins University Press. 2,142 pp.
 Ntchantcho, R., Anye, L., Aka, F., Kankeu, B., Buh, G., Ndifon, P., Nnange, J. and Hell, J. (2017). The Debris Flow of 1st August 2012 in Kakpenyi-Tinta (Akwaya Sub Division) Southwest Cameroon—I: Event Description, Causes and Impacts. Open Journal of Geology, 7, 1337-1351.
 Chilver, E., & Röschenthaler, U. (Eds.). (2001). Cameroon’s Tycoon: Max Esser’s Expedition and its Consequences. Berghahn Books. Retrieved January 31, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1btc082.
 Varrecchia, M. M., Gorley, V. A., & Marshall, S. D. (2004). Group size does not influence growth in the Theraphosid spider Hysterocrates gigas (Aranae, Theraphosidae, Eumenophorinae). The Journal of Arachnology 32(2): 324-331.
|Dimensions||1.0 × 0.5 × 0.5 in|