King Baboon Spider
Scientific Name: Citharischius crawshayi
Female king baboon spiders are much larger than males. The latter rarely exceed 12cm while the girls may exceed 20cm. Predominantly dark brown in colour, king baboons are bad-tempered spiders that will rear up, fangs at the ready at the slightest disturbance. The legs are very thick and robust and the entire body is covered with short fine hairs giving the spider a velvety appearance.
The king baboon is the second largest of all African spiders. It inhabits the dry Acacia scrublands of central eastern Africa, mainly Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. They excavate long deep burrows up to 60cm in length usually at the base of a tree. These refuges remain cool and humid even on the hottest days.
These are powerful hunters that will readily tackle prey items at least as large as themselves. Scorpions, insects, other spiders, frogs, reptiles and the chicks of ground-nesting birds are all at threat.
Like many spiders, male king baboons have to be extremely careful when approaching a female for mating to ensure he does not become her next meal, a very real possibility with this very aggressive species. He must carry out a precise courtship ritual to convince the female that he is not a threat and is suitable for a mate. If he is successful mating itself is very brief and he will make a hasty retreat at the end.