Stromatopelma calceatum (Fabricius/1793), also known as the “Featherleg baboon”, is a very stunning and remarkable bird spider due to its coloration and patterns from West-Africa. However she’s been linked with baboon spiders, she belonged to the subfamily of the Stromatopelminae (and not the Harpactirinae) for a long time. African theraphosids are commonly given the title of baboon spider, which explains why she carries the name. Since March 2017 the spider belongs to the subfamily of the Aviculariinae. Based on a fragmentary species from Guinea, Fabricius described the spider as “Aranea calceata” in 1793, later to be removed into the genus Scodra by Becker in 1879. This name was accepted for many years, until Raven discovered in 1984 the generic name Scodra was already in use in by an earlier butterfly genus. In their natural habitat Stromatopelma spp. will create a crude tube web in the higher regions of ferns and palm trees in the lower forest regions. Due to the fact there is a colour difference of calceata specimens centred on Pepeh, Sierra Leone, Stromatopelma calceatum griseipes (Pocock/1897) became a subspecies of Stromatopelma calceatum by Smith since 1990.
I. SPECIFIC INFORMATION
Scientific name: Stromatopelma calceatum.
Synonym: Stromatopelma brachypoda.
Common names: Featherleg baboon.
Previous name: Aranea calceata Fabricius, 1793, Scodra aussererii Becker, 1879, Stromatopelma alicapillatum Karsch, 1881, Scodra calceata Simon, 1887, Scodra brachypodra Pocock, 1897, Hyarachne horrida Thorell, 1899, Stromatopelma brachypoda Smith, 1990, Stromatopelma calceata Smith, 1990, Stromatopelma calceatum Finke, 1998.
Subspecies: Stromatopelma calceatum griseipes (Pocock/1897).
* Different to Stromatopelma calceatum griseipes, Stromatopelma calceatum femura are ventrally darker. The ventral dark coloration on coxae and trochanter are the same in both species.
Type: Arboreal bird spider.
Category: Old world tarantula. Not recommended for beginning hobbyists.
Urticating setae: No.
Venom: Probably strong. Depending the location of the bite and the amount of venom released, this might be a painful experience. Bite reports from captivity convey that the venom of Stromatopelma calceatum is medically significant to humans. However, no valuable scientific research has been done yet.
Body length: ≤ 6-7cm.
Span width: ≤ 14-16cm. Stromatopelma calceatum is sexually dimorphic, with females being larger and heavier than males. Males don not possess tibial spurs.
Growth rate: Fast.
Life expectancy: Females become up to 12-15 years old. Males are given a shorter lifetime of 3-4 years.
Behavior: Very defensive. The spider will try to flee at first. Persistent provocation can result in a bite. Younger spiders of the species have been observed burrowing themselves, after which they’ll be looking out for shelter in higher places, sometimes creating a very beautiful web. When given the perfect housing, as supposed, they’ll only be visible at night.
Accessibility (1/beginner, 10/expert): 10.
II. INFORMATION FOR KEEPERS
>>> First aid
Stromatopelma calceatum lives in tropical warm and humid area. Temperatures almost daily reach levels up to 30°C. The intense sunlight isn’t a big issue due to the treetops, but the spider will protect itself against the heat by creating a crude tube web in the higher regions of ferns and palm trees in the lower forest regions. They were seen living in palm clumps as well. Do not overheat the terrarium. From november until march the Harmattan brings a cold-dry and dusty wind from the Sahara over the West-African subcontinent. Both temperature and humidity drop for 4-5 consecutive months.
Temperature: 23-27°C (day), 20-22°C (night).
Humidity: 70-80%. During 4-5 consecutive months a year this may drop to 65-70%.
Adult: LxWxH: 20x20x45. Min. 3x span width in height.
Smaller than adult: 3x span width in height.
* Provide a piece of hollow tree trunk or corkbark. Fill it halfway with moist substrate.
* Wild vegetation in the lower region of the terrarium is recommended.
Adult: 0,5x span width.
Smaller than adult: Minimal 0,5x span width.
* During 7-8 months the spider lives in humid area. Note that cages with high humidity levels are very sensitive for mites. Please take your precautions.
* Note: Stromatopelma calceatum lives widely distributed in West-Africa. These data are only informative. Please provide environmental factors as described above.
Wet season: March, april, may, june, july, august, september, october.
Dry season: January, february, november, december.
Warmest months: January, february, march, april, november, december.
Coldest months: None. The coldest month don’t differ that much from the other months.
For more information about the local climate: Click here.
* You might like to consider an adjustment of these data with your local climate. Do not exceed minima or maxima and, if necessary, organize the year making your bird spider experience different seasons. This is very important form the moment you’d like to start breeding.
III. INFORMATION FOR BREEDERS
Mating Stromatopelma calceatum normally runs smoothly. Remove the male immediately after mating. Cannibalism may occur.
• 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.
• Plan mating during dry season or at the end of wet season. From the moment you systematically raise up humidity, you might trigger the female.
• 2-4 months after mating, the female will probably start making the cocoon. Deprive the cocoon, which is recommended, 5 weeks later. Store the eggs at a humidity of 80-90% and a temperature of 25-29°C. Expect 200-300 spiderlings to come out.
• Keep an eye on the cocoon as long as you leave it with the female. Stromatopelma calceatum is notorious to defend her cocoon, but not taking care of it.
IV. DID YOU KNOW…
• The genus Scodra had to be removed due to the fact the genus was already occupied by a family of butterflies?
• A female Stromatopelma calceatum will typically attach her cocoon to one of the walls of her burrow?
• A female Stromatopelma calceatum will defend her cocoon, but is notoriouos for not taking little care on it?
• A new African arboreal genus and species of Theraphosid spider (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Stromatopelminae) which lacks spermathecae. The systematic position of Xenodendrophila, Stromatopelma and Heteroscodra is discussed.
• Ref: Smith, A. M. (1990c). Baboon spiders: Tarantulas of Africa and the Middle East. Fitzgerald Publishing (WSC).