Pterinochilus lugardi

Pterinochilus lugardi

Pterinochilus lugardi Pocock, 1900, also known as “Grey starburst baboon”, “Dodoma baboon”, Fort hall baboon” or “Tanzanian blonde baboon”, is a remarkable bird spider due to its coloration and behavior from East- and South-Africa. African bird spiders are commonly given the title of baboon spider, which title theoretically only belongs to the subfamily of the Harpactirinae. Therefore Pterinochilus spp. can be considered real baboon spiders. In 1916 Mr. G. Van Dam discovered a spider in the Soutpansberg area of South Africa, which he sent to the Albani museum. John Hewitt, the arachnid taxonomist working there in that time, described the species Mr. G. Van Dam sent him as a new species and named it Idiothele pluridentatum. Remarkably the species has been seen building a trapdoor entrance (source). With the revision of the Pterinochilus– and Eucratoscelus-genus in 2002 by Gallon, Idiothele pluridentatum was found to be the same species as Pterinochilus lugardi (source). If you hear people talk about “Pterinochilus pluridentatus” or “Eucratoscelus tenuitibialis“, they are talking about Pterinochilus lugardi. The spider is fast and probably equipped with strong venom, but famous to be “more docile” and “less defensive” than Pterinochilus murinus. Therefore Pterinochilus lugardi is the perfect choice to start with tarantulas from the Old World.


Scientific name: Pterinochilus lugardi.

SynonymPterinochilus pluridentatus.

Subfamily: Harpactirinae.

Common names: Dodoma baboon. Grey starburst baboon. Fort Hall baboon. Tanzanian blonde baboon. Morogoro baboon.

Previous names: Idiothele pluridentatum Hewitt, 1919, Harpactirella flavipilosa Lawrence, 1939, Eucratoscelus tenuitibialis Schmidt&Gelling, 2000.

World spider catalog

Type: Burrowing bird spider.

Category: Old world tarantula.

Urticating setae: No.

Venom: Probably strong. Depending the location of the bite and the amount of venom released, this might be a painful experience. However, no valuable scientific research has been done yet.

OriginBotswana (Kwebe hills, nearby lake Ngami (source)), NamibiaTanzania, Zambia, ZimbabweSouth-Africa (Table Mountain National park) (East- and South-Africa).

Body length: ≤ 4/5cm. Males don’t grow larger than 3,5cm.

Span width: ≤ 11/14cm.

Growth rate: Fast.

Life expectancy: Females become up to 12 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime of 3-4 years.

Behavior: The spider will try to flee at first. Persistent provocation can result in a threat-pose and a bite. Nevertheless she’s often being considered to be “less defensive” than Pterinochilus murinus. Pterinochilus lugardi is a burrowing species, often visible at night. Remarkably she’s the only species from the genus making a trapdoor entrance.

Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 6.


>>> First aid

In the South temperatures can be rather cool, around 18°C, with a warm season between 26-28°C. In the Zambezi-valley however, temperatures often reach up to 32-35°C. Please be informed of the fact the spider will protect itself against the weather underneath tree trunks, rocks, human structures and abandoned holes of rodents, hiding underneath a beautiful trapdoor. Temperatures in their burrows differ from environmental temperatures. Don’t overheat the terrarium. Prolonged droughts can take place for heavy rainfall.

Environmental conditions

Temperature: 24°C-28°C (day), 20°C-24°C (night).

Humidity: 40-60%. During 3 concecutive months a year (oct-dec) this may rise to 70-80%.


Adult: LxWxH: 30x25x35. Min. 3-4x span width in height and 1,5-2x span width in surface.

Smaller than adult: Min. 3x span width in height and 2x span width in surface.

* Provide enough natural hiding places. She’s often being found underneath rocks.


Adult: Min. 1x span width.

Smaller than adult: Min. 0,75/1x span width.

* Keep the substrate rather dry. A humid environment can have disastrous consequences for Pterinochilus lugardi.


Because of the fact Pterinochilus lugardi lives widely spread across East- and South-Africa, chosing one specific place could create a false impression. This beautiful documentary about Pterinochilus lugardi gives you an ideal impression of her natural habitat. Please ensure environmental factors as described above.


However Pterinochilus lugardi is known to be rather defensive towards any disturbance nearby, they surprisingly accept the presence of a partner for a short period of time nearby. Seperate male and female after mating, giving it antoher try a few days later. Different to most theraphosids the Harpactirinae cocoon is not spherical and mobile but fixed (source).

• Only start breeding 4-6 weeks (or later) after the spider molted. If the female molts between pairing and cocoon, the eggs will remain unfertilized.

• Make sure the female is well-fed (not obese) before you introduce the male.

• The female will start making the cocoon 1,5-2 months after mating. Deprive the cocoon, when desired, 4 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 70% and a temperature of 24-28°C. Expect 130-170 spiderlings to come out.

Pterinochilus lugardi sometimes creates a second cocoon 8-12 weeks after the first one. The amount of fertilized eggs will probably be less than the first cocoon.


Pterinochilus lugardi is the only Pterinochilus sp. creating a trapdoor entrance?

Pterinochilus lugardi is the perfect choice to get to start with Old World Tarantulas?

• Spiderlings of Pterinochilus lugardi are very small compared to Pterinochilus murinus or Pterinochilus chordatus?

• Offered Pterinochilus vorax are often Pterinochilus lugardi or Pterinochilus murinus TCF?


Revision of the African genera Pterinochilus and Eucratoscelus (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Harpactirinae) with description of two new genera.


• Text: Dennis Van Vlierberghe (facebookgroup and –page)

• Photography: Julian Kamzol (website, flickr)