Compared to south and east Africa, only a handful of hobby African species come from west Africa. Heterothele gabonensis (Lucas, 1858) is the only hobby species from the country of Gabon. Pocock (1900) reported that probably the same species was collected on the Benito River (see Mbini, Woleu in Guinea), the headwaters of which lie in Gabon. Climate here is tropical equatorial, with long rainy seasons interrupted by fewer months of drier winter weather. From late November to March, dry winter northeast trade winds, known as the Harmattan, bring dust and sand from the Sahara.
Perhaps most useful to the hobbyist is a 2008 research report of Cedrik Grenier, who made observations of H. gabonenesis in Gabon’s Lopé National Park [LINK]. Grenier describes H. gabonensis favoring abundant exposed roots and cavities of the Uapaca tree (Uapaca sp.). As to the natural behavior of H. gabonensis he writes:
“Many groups, small or more important, were observed, living on the same tree. However no retreat revealed more than one mature spider, thus classifying them more tolerant than favourable for the community. These groups of two to twenty individuals count male mature, female mature with or without egg sac, juvenile and spiderling.”
Grenier also makes some fascinating observations of different ant species in relation to H. gabonensis. For the enthusiast it is a brief, must-read.
The photo above shows one of the specimens for sale. Neither colorful nor imposing, H. gabonensis remains dear to hobbyists. I hope the above information enriches your experience with them.
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