Harpactira pulchripes care guide
the golden blue-legged baboon (Harpactira pulchripes) is a gorgeous South African fossorial tarantula. As the common name suggests, H. pulchripes has a sandy-gold body and femurs with metallic blue forelegs. Adults have intricate patterning on the carapace and abdomen. Overall a beautiful Old World spider with a relatively docile demeanor. Spiderlings start showing adult coloration around 3rd-4th instar.
second instar spiderling
pairing, male on bottom
H. pulchripes is native to the the eastern cape of South Africa. The climate in this region is generally dry with little rainfall throughout the year. The arid scrubland in which this species is found experiences average daily temperatures that can fluctuate 20 degrees or more. Maximum temperatures in the warmer months regularly reach up to 84°F and minimums in the cooler months can drop to the 40s (Climate - Grahamstown, South Africa). These animals construct burrows in the clay-based terrain by gathering particulate material and vegetation to make a web funnel at the entrance.
female H. pulchripes can surpass 5” diagonal leg span, but mature males are usually significantly smaller. We set up all of our adults in Exo Terra brand “Mini Wide” 12” x 12” x 12” glass enclosures, which we prefer due to their built-in cross-ventilation feature, double front-opening doors, locking mechanism, and clean look. The lid might pose an issue with tarantula claws getting stuck in the mesh, so consider replacing it with drilled acrylic or Plexiglas; the more ventilation holes the better! Being primarily fossorial, we fill the enclosure with 4-6” of megamix ARID substrate, plant a few dry-tolerant succulent plants (optional), and provide a water dish. We set up spiderlings from 3/4”-2.5” in our purplebox 7x4x4 enclosure similarly, and juveniles from about 2-4” are housed in Exo Terra brand “Nano Wide” 8” x 8” x 8” enclosures.
although H. pulchripes and other baboons are hardy species, we still recommend providing ample ventilated enclosures to prevent stagnant conditions, which can be improved with forced airflow. We keep a small portable fan in our animal room on the low setting. If you choose to use a fan, be sure to place it so it is not blowing directly at your enclosure.
at Marshall Arachnids, we strive to take each species’ natural history into account when designing and maintaining vivaria for our spiders. We provide our H. pulchripes adults with a thermal gradient of about 70 to 80°F, with the top of the enclosure being the warmest. Nighttime temps drop no lower than 68°F. Each spider has the opportunity to thermoregulate by moving around the enclosure as they please. We ensure the water dish is full and clean daily, with a light misting once or twice per week. We sparingly add water to the substrate only to maintain live plants. For adults, we tong-feed appropriately-sized live dubia roaches or crickets every 7-14 days, but not on a set schedule. For slings, we offer food approximately every 5-7 days or as-needed. H. pulchripes tends to seal off the entrance of the burrow with webbing when preparing to molt and may repeatedly refuse to eat. These spiders can safely go weeks on end without food, so do not be concerned if this is the case. Just continue to provide clean water regularly.
Fun Fact! African tarantulas are casually referred to as “baboon spiders”. The thought behind the nickname is that the local people thought their legs resembled the fingers of a baboon sticking out of their burrows.