Baboon Spiders…

baboob spiderThese harmless giants are often negatively portrayed.

They are called baboon spiders due to their hairy appearance and the black scopulae pads on its "feet" resembling the pads on baboon feetThey are not dangerous to man although they can inflict a painful bite.  South African species are terrestrial occurring in underground burrows or scrapes under rocks. The scrape is lined with thick silk, which is attached to the rock and keeps out troublesome insects such as ants.

At night, these burrow dwellers can be seen with their front legs and eyes showing at the entrance of their burrows as they wait for unsuspecting prey. The most dramatic feature of these spiders is the black fangs that can exceed 6 mm in length and are parallel to each other (paraxial). During an attack, the forelegs are raised in aggression, exposing the fangs and the orange and black colouration.

Size: They are large, bulky and hairy with a body length of 13-90 mm long with the average spider measuring 20-50 mm. They have robust non-tapering legs and the pads or scopulae setae under the "feet" allow them to walk up the smoothest of surfaces - even glass.

Distribution: They occur over the whole of South Africa and bordering countries.

Diet: They are largely ambush hunters, preying on a variety of insects, beetles, scorpions and even small reptiles.

Breeding: The female lays 30 to 180 eggs but very few survive the 7 to 10 year maturity period. Females continue to moult after reaching maturity and can live for about 25 years. The males live for only about 6 months after maturity and therefore it is of no consequence should the females consume them.

If bitten: They are harmless to man although the bite is painful and mildly neurotoxic. If bitten, one will experience an intense burning pain in the region of the bite where two red blood spots will develop from the fang punctures. There will be no evidence of discolouration and swelling. The pain will subside after 2-18 hours. There might be symptoms of shock. The only treatment required would be a painkiller and antihistamine.