Hysterocrates apostolicus Cricket Legged Baboon
Hysterocrates apostolicus

Some time in the mid 1990's, a south Floridian importer acquired numerous wild-caught female Hysterocrates sp. from "West African Islands".  Some females dropped sacs and the offspring made their way into the pet trade as Hysterocrates ederi, from Bioko.  I bought some as such, but became curious as they grew older and began getting thicker and thicker tarsi on Leg IV.      
While they were beautiful and held me captivated by their unique leg structure, I parted with all but one since I was unable to find a male (I have a loose policy about not holding on to tarantulas if I am not getting them to reproduce).  In 2003 or 2004, I did find advertisements for a similar looking spider being sold as H. scepticus, but the dealer had no males.  Shortly thereafter, the one I kept died at the ripe old age of nine.

In any case, they're a stunning spider that changes from a chocolate brown to a rusty red color in the latter half of its molt cycle, like H. gigas, except the femora stay dark brown.  

More information on their home is located here.



Range: The island of Sao Tome, collected specifically from the north end of the island.
Habitat:  Moist forest .  On Sao Tome, there are basically three seasons:  July, August, and Rain.  Seriously, it's actually fairly dry in June and September too, but most months of the year experience over 3" of precipitation.  It never gets cold, but it also seldom gets over 90 degrees F.  
Size: Large tarantula.  Fully grown females are about 6+" in legspan.
Attitude:  Usually very shy and defensive, preferring to spend most of its life in a burrow, but active terrestrially in hours of undisturbed darkness. Unlike Haplopelma species, they (and H. gigas and H. crassipes) seem to make near-nightly above-ground exploration expeditions of their container, no matter how big a container and how much soil they are given.
Dwelling: In captivity, a network of burrows, usually with multiple entrances.  They probably mirror other Hysterocrates in the wild with single burrow entrances.



 hystercrates shy
While Hysterocrates makes an incredible threat display when annoyed,  it also defends itself with the "knees" over the eyes maneuver.
 hysterocrates burrow
"Bye!"  Here's the usual scene once a light is turned on.  Note the size of the tarsus and metatarsus.
 hysterocrates top
This is a juvenile at about the time when I started noticing the unique rear legs.  Notice the chocolate post-molt coloration.

Ideal Setup: A container of 3-10 gallon capacity for an adult (they will make use of a large container) with ample substrate for digging. I prefer a mix of our local alluvial clay, peat moss, and a bit of vermiculite. They make the most fantastic and sturdy "mines" with it.  In the wild, they enjoy the easily packed, ruddy brown and rich volcanic soil of Sao Tome.  While they live on a rainy island, don't make it swamp.  Keep humidity about 70% (if the substrate stays moist, but not so wet that that you can squeeze water out of it with your hand, you're good). Keep a full water dish, and temps about 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit year round.

Food: Any bugs that haven't been exposed to pesticides (equivalent of 3-5 crickets a week for adults), small lizards, etc.  Hysterocrates are great feeders and fast growers, but you may have to simply put the prey in he container in the evening and ensure it has disappeared the following day.  As it is kept fairly humid and warm, remove remains promptly and check frequently for undesired mites and fungus.


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