Cameroon Red
Hysterocrates gigas

These are "baboon" spiders from central Africa that love to dig.  There are several species in the Hysterocrates genus that are all quite similar.  H. gigas may range from a rusty overall color to black (they are a beautiful black after a molt and then fade to the rusty color shown at left), and they have long, thickened rear legs.  They like to use those legs for digging and will construct deep burrows in captivity.

Range: Central Africa, Cameroon in particular.

Habitat:  Tropical forest floor

Size: Not a giant, but a good sized bug that reaches about 7" in legspan.

Attitude:  Very shy, but defensive if cornered.  H. gigas will come out of their burrows for a hunt at night, but hasten away at the slightest disturbance. Most will sometimes rear up and slap with their forelegs if they can't immediately find an escape route, but would rather flee than bite.  This is clearly not a tarantula to handle.

Dwelling:  This is a terrestrial spider that likes to burrow. . .a lot!  They'll often build elaborate tunnels.
 

"Okay, no more pictures!" 
This is what most normally see of H. gigas.  Note the uniform thickness of the tibia on legs IV.  Often times, "dealers" will sell the closely-related H. crassipes as H. gigasH. crassipes retains bulbous swelling of the tibia (instead of developing the uniform "tube" shape), does not grow as large, and generally does not get a "red" during pre-molt.

 

Ideal Setup: A 5 to 10 gallon capacity container with enough peat/potting soil for digging in (fill it about 6-12 inches deep).
These tarantulas really like to dig and may add several tunnels to an existing burrow.  Supply a water dish and lightly moisten the substrate twice a week or so to keep a good amount of humidity (60-70% should be adequate to keep them comfortable- mine do fine without strict adherence to duplicating their habitat's humidity.  However, I have seen many perch on water dishes and one die when humidity was lower than 50%).  Keep the temperature around 75-85 degrees F if possible.  Clean up their food remains quickly and watch closely to prevent fungus and/or mites.

Food: Any bugs that haven't been exposed to pesticides (4-6 crickets a week for adults).  While they will readily take on pinkie and even fuzzy mice (the preferred diet of my H. gigas), one must be attentive when feeding H. gigas such prey.  The filthy globs of mice remains in a humid burrow invite bacteria with a neon welcome sign.  I've had some individuals that dispose of remains outside their burrows, which is convenient.  Some others, however, do not engage in such housekeeping.
 
 

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