The Orange Baboon Tarantula is a tarantula species found in the central, eastern, and southern parts of the African continent and the country of Angola in particular. It has also been sighted on Zanzibar, an island off of the coast of Tanzania. The OBT is considered an Old World tarantula. In the animal kingdom, Old World refers to Europe, Asia, and Africa while New World refers to North and South America. The scientific name for this type of tarantula is Pterinochilus murinus. It is also known as the Mombasa Golden Starburst Tarantula and is frequently referred to by its initials OBT. Some tarantula enthusiasts suggest that OBT really stands for Orange Bitey Thing due to its aggressive nature.
The OBT is one of about 800 species of tarantulas. It is considered to be a highly defensive tarantula. This aggressive temperament does not make them a good choice for first-time tarantula owners. The Orange Baboon Tarantula is also very fast and ready to bite when threatened. That said, they are a very beautiful spider that experienced handlers enjoy caring for. The OBT also weaves spectacular webs which many OBT owners enjoy as well. In captivity, these tarantulas can live on a diet of insects, but in the wild, they are also capable of eating small lizards, mice, and snakes.
The OBT is not found in many pet stores, but they are becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade. It is important that they are housed in the right terrarium at the correct temperature and humidity levels and be fed a proper diet of insects. With proper care, the female OBT can live as long as 12 years with the male living as long as eight years.
The tarantula family of spiders includes some of the biggest spiders in the world. The Goliath Birdeater, for example, can grow up to 12 inches in length and weigh up to 6.2 ounces. The Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater can grow to 11 inches and the Colombian Giant Tarantula grows to a length of between six and eight inches. The Orange Baboon Tarantula is not quite as large as those New World spiders.
The female Orange Baboon Tarantula can grow to between four and six inches. This is measured from the rear of the right leg to the front of the left leg. The male of the species is smaller and averages between three and four inches in length. The tarantula’s body is covered with short hairs with longer hairs on the legs. The eye cluster sits on top of a raised section of the spider’s carapace. As an Old World spider, OBTs do not have urticating hair or bristles which cause irritation to predators they come in contact with.
Orange Baboon Tarantulas Lifespan
The female Orange Baboon Tarantula has a lifespan of between eight and 12 years. The male OBT has a lifespan of between six and eight years. Other types of tarantulas, such as the brown tarantula, can live as long as 36 years. Of course, the lifespan of an Orange Baboon Tarantula in the wild is significantly less due to the number of predators they encounter in the wild.
The bright orange coloration of the Orange Baboon Tarantula is its greatest asset and makes them a beautiful addition to any arachnid collection. There are four known color variants found in OBTs.
● TCF — Typical Color Form
● UMV — Usambara Mountain
● RCF — Red Color Form
● DCF — Dark Color Form
The carapace and abdomen of the OBT feature the same coloration as the legs though brightly colored rings may appear on the legs as well. The abdomen of the OBT features a pattern that resembles a fishbone while the carapace features a star-shaped pattern. OBTs have a bluish-green coloration on the bottom of each foot. This is visible when the spider takes on a threat posture, which is quite often.
The Orange Baboon Tarantula is a very aggressive spider. While some species of tarantulas prefer to run and hide, the OBT has the opposite tendency and will attack if it feels threatened. The OBT will bite and it will be quite painful, but their venom is not known to be lethal to humans. Even so, painful swelling and muscle cramping can occur from an OBT bite.
Tarantula owners should never allow themselves to get complacent with their spiders and extra caution is required in caring for the Orange Baboon Tarantula. Many bites occur while owners trying to clean the enclosures or during the rehousing process.
Direct handling of the spider is not recommended except by experts. A pair of long forceps can be used to transfer the spider to its new home, but should not be used to grab the spider directly as this could cause injury.
The OBT does not have urticating hairs like their New World counterparts. These irritating hairs are a way to discourage predators from trying to make a meal out of them. They cause a stinging sensation to the skin and can also cause eye damage. The OBT makes up for the absence of stinging hairs with their nasty bite.
Are Orange Baboon Tarantulas Arboreal?
The Orange Baboon Tarantula is considered to be a semi-arboreal spider. This means that they can be found in trees or higher ground but they also like to burrow like terrestrial spiders. When keeping them in an enclosure, it is recommended that at least five to six inches of substrate be provided so the Orange Baboon Tarantula can burrow and hide as it suits them.
Orange Baboon Tarantulas molt like other spiders. Molting is the shedding of the exoskeleton and is necessary for the tarantula to grow. Young tarantulas may undergo this process several times a year. Once they have reached adulthood, tarantulas may only molt once a year. The male may not molt again after reaching maturity. If the male does mold late in its maturity, there is a risk that will die in the process. You can tell that an OBT is about to molt when its exoskeleton turns a darker shade of orange. The spider will also appear lethargic and will stop feeding prior to molting.
A tarantula that is ready to molt may lie on its back. Sometimes novice tarantula owners may think their molting spider is dead and dispose of it prematurely. A dead tarantula will have its legs curled up underneath it and won’t be found on its back. If you see your tarantula on its back, leave it alone, but keep an eye on it. The molting process typically takes a few hours. If it is molting you will see the discarded exoskeleton soon enough.
Orange Baboon Tarantulas have become an increasingly popular pet. They are an extremely defensive spider, however, so it is not a good starter spider. If you do choose an OBT as your first spider, get a spiderling so you can grow into the experience, but keep in mind, they are very fast and aggressive and they will try to escape when given the opportunity. Their bite, while not lethal, is very painful.
Some species of tarantulas, such as the Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula, are known for their docile nature. The Orange Baboon Tarantula is not one of these gentle species. They have a reputation for being very confrontational. When it feels threatened it is pretty fearless and will rear up on its back legs as it strikes the ground with its front legs. They are also very fast-moving arachnids and have been known to sprint up the sides of their enclosure and go into attack mode.
Tarantula owners will tell you that every spider has its own personality which can change in between molting periods. This is why caution is always needed even if you have a tarantula that is calm most of the time. Experienced owners also report that if they remain calm around their spiders, the spiders will also remain calm.
The tarantulas are very aware of vibrations, so care should be taken around their enclosures. Tapping on the glass or making abrupt movements around the enclosure will cause the OBT to go into its threat pose.
While some people do this on purpose so they can take photos of the tarantula in this agitated state, it causes undue stress on the animal. If it escapes and attacks you after being provoked, you will have earned that painful bite. While the bite of the OBT is not lethal to humans, it is very painful and can result in swelling and muscle cramps.
Because of their highly aggressive nature, it is recommended that only expert handlers keep OBTs as rehousing and cleaning their enclosures is a risky endeavor.
The recommended terrarium size for the Orange Baboon Tarantula is between five and ten gallons. This provides plenty of room for it to spin webs and to burrow. Coconut fiber is a good choice for substrate because it contains no bacteria or parasites and moderates humidity well.
Some tarantula owners provide lightweight hides for their spiders, but the OBT likes to burrow and may prefer to hide in its web. In any case, lightweight objects like pieces of bark are recommended over heavier objects such as rocks which may crush them if they try to dig under them.
It is not recommended that Orange Baboon Tarantula be housed with other OBTs or other species of spiders. As your OBT grows, it may become necessary to rehouse them in a larger enclosure. This requires a fair bit of caution and a long set of tongs to pull out the webbing and old substrate. The OBT will try to make a quick escape if given the opportunity, so be ready. They are lightning fast and aggressive spiders.
The Orange Baboon Tarantula can survive on a diet of large crickets, grasshoppers, and cockroaches. In the wild, the OBT will eat small mammals, but this is not necessary when it is kept in captivity. OBTs have big appetites and will only turn down a meal if they are getting ready to molt. They should not be fed in the week leading up to their molting period.
Younger tarantulas can be fed small quarter-inch crickets two times per week. Whatever insects you choose to feed it, grasshoppers or cockroaches, et cetera, they should be about equal to the size of the tarantula’s carapace which is the top front section of the body. As the spider ages, it will need to eat less frequently, about every ten to 14 days.
The Orange Baboon Tarantula is only interested in live food and may ignore dead insects. Some owners may try to trick their spider into believing their food is alive, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be fooled and a supply of live crickets, grasshoppers, or roaches is recommended.
The recommended temperature for the Orange Baboon Tarantula’s enclosure is between 77 and 87 degrees during the day and about 70 degrees at night. If you live in an area of the country where temperatures drop below this, you will need to supply your spider’s terrarium with a source of heat.
The tarantula’s enclosure should be kept at a minimum temperature of 77 during the day and a minimum of 70 degrees at night. Heat mats or heating cables can be used to provide heat to the terrarium. Bright lighting does not provide a suitable source of heat so they should be avoided as it may cause burns on the tarantula.
The Orange Baboon Tarantula requires a lower humidity level than others in the tarantula family. Between 40 and 60 percent is a good level to maintain. A constant supply of fresh water should be made available to them at all times, but otherwise, the substrate can be kept drier than many other types of tarantulas. Misting the terrarium is not recommended as it may give the OBT an opportunity to sprint up the side of the terrarium and escape.
Lighting is not necessary for the Orange Baboon Tarantula. They are active at night and spend much of their time in their hides or burrows, or hidden in the webs. At any rate, they do not like bright light and any lighting in the enclosure could dry out the substrate. As long as their enclosure is adequately heated, lighting will serve no useful purpose.
In its natural habitat, when the female Orange Baboon Tarantula reaches sexual maturity, it will mate and lay eggs once a year. After two to three months after mating, the female will deposit between 50 and 150 eggs into an egg sac she weaves for this purpose and will guard them. If mating the OBT in captivity, it is recommended that the female be well-fed prior to mating as she may attempt to make a meal out of the male after copulation.