Harpactira dictator • 3/4 – 1″

Harpactira dictator (Cape Town tarantula), captive bred, from the environs of Cape Town, South Africa. This inhabitant of temperate climes does well with dry substrate, room temperature, and access to water.


W. F. Purcell described Harpactira dictator in 1902 based on 3 males and 2 adult females collected in Western Cape, South Africa, specifically “Bonnie Vale Farm, in the Swellendam Div.”  (Swellendam District)*, which has a town of the same name, 136 miles east of Cape Town.

H. dictator, primary locality, Bonnie Vale Farm. Purcell mentions additional localities, mainly along the Breede River.

Purcell also mentions specimens collected in neighboring municipalities (districts, see left). All are in Western Cape, and most lie in the lower Breede River Valley (elevation 820-262 ft).

Climate in the valley is warm and temperate, it rains even in the dry season. Some refer to the climate as Mediterranean. Indeed, much of the valley is devoted to viticulture. On average, 22 inches (564 mm) of rain fall per year. For reference, Sacramento, California receives 20 inches per year.

H. dictator females mature at around 4″. Males mature around 2 1/2″. Captive specimens thrive at room temperature, with dry substrate and access to water. Water can be provided either ad lib via a water dish, or intermittently via food or spritzed droplets for drinking. H. dictator will make use of a hide and will web extensively. It may build it’s own, shallow, web-substrate hide. The parameters above can be used to both raise and breed H. dictator.

As for all Old World tarantulas, keep hands and fingers away. Use catch cups for transfers.

*Some names and borders have changed since 1902 such that the primary locality, Bonnie Vale Farm, formerly in Swellendam Division, is now part of neighboring Langeburg (Western Cape Municipalities and Districts).

[1] Purcell, W. F. (1902a). On the South African Theraphosidae or “Baviaan” spiders, in the collection of the South African Museum. Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society 11: 319-347.

Additional information

Weight 0.01 lbs
Dimensions 1 × 0.5 × 0.5 in