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Genus Pterinochilus Pocock, 1897 


Genus status. On the systematic features the close relative to Augacephalus, Idiothele and Ceratogyrus.

Including genus Pterinochilides Strand, 1920, and also some representatives of genera Coelogenium , Idiothele, Eucratoscelus and Harpactira by R. Gallon in 2001.

See also "Synonymy" page from "Evolution&Systematic" section of the site.

Type species – Pterinochilus vorax Pocock, 1897.

Till recent time that was a big messing group of african tarantulas (23 species) called "baboon-spiders", Which inhabiting the wide range of the territories of the continental Africa from equator to Southern part. However, according the revision of Britain arachnologist Richard C. Gallon, published in 2002 at the Bulletin of Britain Arachnological Society, No. 12 (5), genus has undergo a fair changes and at present time it counts only 7 species (one more new species would be added soon (R. Gallon, in press), from which the validity of taxon Pterinochilus leetzi Schmidt, 2002 raise some doubts (see also comments at "Comments to systematic" from "Evolution&Systematic" section of the site).

The Genus Pterinochilus was astablished by great Reginald Ines Pocock in 1897 on the basis of the specimens from locality near Lake Tanganyika. In the same work he described P. murinus Pocock, 1897 from Tanzania, and also new genera Brachionopus Pocock, 1897 and Ceratogyrus Pocock, 1897. In the following year he added - P. nigrofulvus Pocock, 1898a from South Africa, and also noted the discovery of the type species in Malawi. With the receipt of a collection of East African arachnids from Mr. Betton Pocock was able to establish a new genus Eucratoscelus Pocock, 1898b based on its type species E. longiceps Pocock, 1898b, and also a new species Pterinochilus spinifer Pocock, 1898b, and subsequently - P. schoenlandi Pocock, 1900a and P. lugardi Pocock, 1900a.

In 1902 another one arachnologist Purcell, working from CapeTown, described a further South African genera and species: P. crassispinus Purcell, 1902, genus Coelogenium Purcell, 1902 – a new genus to accommodate a Zimbabwean specimen with a strongly procurved fovea (C. pillansi Purcell, 1902), genus Harpactirella Purcell, 1902. Two years later Pterinochilus junodi Simon, 1904 was added to the South African fauna owing to Eugen Simon.

Arachnologist Hirst was also working on the genus Pterinochilus and proposed two new species - P. hindei Hirst, 1907 and P. meridionalis Hirst, 1907. Another arachnologist Tullgren, examining Tanzanian material collected by Prof. Sjostedt, described two additional species: P. affinis Tullgren, 1910 and P. sjostedti Tullgren , 1910, based on single females from Kibonoto.

For his part Hewitt, curator at the Transvaal Museum, also contributed further species to the genus – he was not only described a new species P. breyeri Hewitt, 1919, but also genus Idiothele Hewitt, 1919, to accommodate both - P. nigrofulvus and a new one - I. pluridentata Hewitt, 1919.

Baboon tarantula Pterinochilus chordatus in defence pose. Foto (c) Timo Raab     Later, arachnologiests Berland and Caporiacco described accordingly: P. alluaudi Berland, 1914 from Kenya, P. simoni Berland, 1917 from Congo and Đ. brunellii Caporiacco, 1940 from Ethiopia.

But the most prolific workers on the genus was Strand, who described several species: Pterinochilus widenmanni Strand, 1906a, P. mamillatus Strand, 1906a, P. raptor Strand, 1906b, P. carnivorus Strand, 1917, P. mutus Strand, 1920, P. occidentalis Strand, 1920, P. occidentalis (var.?) Strand, 1920 and Pterinochilides obenbergeri Strand, 1920, and also synonymized P. vorax with species P. constrictus (Strand, 1907a).

Further Laurent (1946) and Aussie arachnologist R. Raven (1985) also revised this group of the mentioned above close genera, as well as the Britain A. Smith (1990). P. Carpenter in 1993 proposed that the Coelogenium is a junior synonym of Pterinochilus , but incorrectly stated the reason for it, that is why Smith (1996) and N. Platnick (1998) both rejected Charpentier’s synonymy.

Also German arachnologiests Peters (1998, 1999), publishing some articles on the subject, and Schmidt et al., redescribed Pterinochilus mamillatus and described the female for the first time in 2000, and G. Schmidt itself established the new species - Pterinochilus leetzi Schmidt, 2002.

The result of it's global longstanding work, dedicated to the group of genera-complex of the Subfamily Harpactirinae, Richard Gallon has published in 2001 (GALLON, R. C. 2001: Revision of the Ceratogyrus spp. Formerly included in Coelogenium (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Harpactirinae). Mygalomorph 2(1): 1–20). Considerable changes, which has lead to synonymyzation of these two examining genera, also apply the genus Pterinochilus: species Pterinochilus meridionalis was transferred to Ceratogyrus, Coelogenium raveni - to Pterinochilus, and species Coelogenium nigrifemur synonymized with Pterinochilus junodi.

And recently the "final line" in modern taxonomy of the Subfamily Harpactirinae was drawn by the same Britain arachnologist R. Gallon in 2002 (GALLON, R. C. 2002. Revision of the African genera Pterinochilus and Eucratoscelus (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Harpactirinae) with description of two new genera. Bull. Br. arachnol. Soc. 12 (5), 201–232), as a result of which the genus Pterinochilus Pocock, 1897 finally put in order and the status in which we have it now.

In 2009 two new species was described by Richard Gallon from Kenya: Pterinochilus raygabrieli sp. n. (south сentral part) and Pterinochilus andrewsmithi sp. n. from north-west territories.

The representatives of the genus Pterinochilus differs from other related African genera of Subfamily Harpactirinae by the following combination if features: from Harpactirella by the presence of a retrolateral cheliceral scopula composed of plumose setae; from Harpactira and Trichognathella by the absence of a dense scopula on the upper prolateral cheliceral surface. Further separated from Harpactira by the absence of plumose stridulatory strikers on the prolateral maxillary surface, and by the absence of a discrete row of bristles below the retro-lateral cheliceral scopula. Distinguished from Idiothele by the possession of a digitiform distal segment on the posterior spinneret. From Ceratogyrus by the absence of the darken coloration of the venter of the palps, leg I-II and reduced number of long emergent setae of the chelicerae. Female of Pterinochilus are separated from those of Eucratoscelus by the un-modified (not incrassate) tibiae of leg IV. Male - are separated from those of Eucratoscelus by the absence of a distal proventral tumid protuberance on metatarsus I. Female Pterinochilus are separated from those of Augacephalus by the possession of long emergent setae on the chelicerae,less robust palpi and legs I–II,and by circular submarginal posterior sternal sigilla. Male - are distinguished from those of Augacephalus by the presence on tibia I of a well-developed distal proventral apophysis surmounted by a well-developed megaspine.

Pterinochilus murinus enclosure, general view. Foto (c) Timo Raab     The Genus is represented by small and everage sized (2-6 cm) much similar looking in appearence, but very polymorphic tarantulas, which have a typical coloration of the upper side of a body consisting of spotts, stripes and reticulated pattern, that is embarrassing they're visual species or even genera identification. Most of the species has a wide range of color forms, the either also can vary and former was described as different species.

They have also a wide distribution from the humid and semihumid equatorial areas to arid bushlands and semideserted Africa, with altitudinal range between sea level and over 2100 m. Inhabiting burrows and use as a retreat any other natural refugies on the ground, on the base of bushes, between the stones, brunches, etc.

They are noted to has ability to built an "arboreal retreat" (as the arboreal tarantulas did), which they placed in bases of overland nature covertures (P. murinus also founds at the hollows of the trees). The burrows inside are thick covered with the web and also an entrance too.

This is aggressive (highly defensive), active and rapid tarantulas considering having a potent venom. They can not be recommended for beginners or as a start tarantula as well in spite of the fact that the most species are easier to keep and breed.

They're maybe the one of the least living representatives of tarantulas in general - the average lifespan considering about 5-7 years (females), in some sources 12 years has also mentioned. Males Pterinochilus spp. also known as one of the earlierst matured species among theraphosids - less than year!

Males of these tarantulas smaller in size, sexual dimorphism before maturity do not possessed. For the species P. murinus known a few cases of laying several (2-3) eggsacs after one mating within the time period of one month between the sac's. Spiderlings possess good appetite and grows qickly: males can reach sexual maturity within the year, females - after 1,5 years old. They have a fixed-type cocoon, as well as some other representatives of this Subfamily, which contains about 100-200 eggs and rarely more.

Keeping conditions. In captivity, as against in a nature, as a rule, do not dig burrows, given artificial shelters, occasionally digging out deepenings under pieces of cork bark etc., spinning a terrarium in and around the shelter with a thick web. But often they're do not use any given shelters but covering all the terrarium with the thick layer of silk, constructing the system of tunnels and passages.

All represented in hobby species (P. murinus, P. chordatus and P. lugardi) can stridulate.

Routinely bred in captivity.

 All Pterinochilus species can be kept under the similiar conditions: low humidity and good ventilation, on dry or slightly moistened substratum with a water bowl. The temperature can be varies within 25-28°C. Thus, humidity for spiders of early ages should be higher, for what it is necessary to humidify a part of a substratum.

Distribution. All species of Pterinochilus distributed only in Africa, mostly at Eastern and Central Africa, and also to south (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somali, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Congo (Zaire), Mozambique, Rwanda).



Common name



Biology, status

Keeping conditions

Berland, 1914


(Maji ya Chumvi) Kenya


  Known only from it's description on the adult male specimen
Any biologic data is absent

  Unknown in captivity

andrewsmithi Gallon, 2009





 Yet is unknown in captivity

(Gerstacker, 1873)

Kalimanjaro mustard baboon

East Africa

dark color form

Foto Barry Wiles © 2005

adult male

light color from

specimen of typical color form

Foto Timo Raab © 2005


  In nature inhabiting open grasslands, reaching 2100 elevation attitude.
For this species, as well as for the Pterinochilus lugardi burrowing type of life is more typical then those of Pterinochilus murinus.
Reaching 5,5 cm in body lengh (females, males are smaller).
Has at least 2 color forms, from which the darkest are less widespread in hobby. Every form has it's own little difference in coloration.

  Keeping requirements of this species the same as for
Pterinochilus murinus

Schmidt, 2002





Foto taken from the description paper

 © A. Leetz


The species known in the sole female specimen, which was alive at the moment of it's description.
The validity of this taxon needs confirmation (according to some specialists this is nothing then P. murinus "dcf")

  Keeping requirements of this species possibly the same as for
Pterinochilus murinus


Pocock, 1900

Fort Hall (Kwebe) mustard baboon

North of Southern Africa

adult female

adult female constracting an eggsac

Foto Phil Messenger © 2004

adult female

Foto Steve Dye © 2005

adult female

Foto Laura Korska © 2005



The most "burrowingish" from all it's close relatives.
The biggest females of this species can reach more then 5 cm in body lengh, males - not more then 4 cm.
The biology of this species in nature poorly studied. However, this less widespread in captivity species then it's congeners also breeds.
In appearing it can be mixed with the pale variation of Pterinochilus murinus "ncf"

Keeping requirements of this species possibly the same as for
Pterinochilus murinus


Pocock, 1897

Star burst baboon, Usambara baboon, etc.

Eastern part of the Central Africa

red color form - Usambara baboon

Foto © Eugeny Yu. Rogov specimen of typical color form

Foto Timo Raab © 2005

usambara mountain color form

Foto Barry Wiles © 2005

adult male of red color form

Foto Ian Metcalfe © 2004

Of all these three species in hobby has least burrownig lifstyle, adjusted to different type of covertures which is offered. But it is more usually construct shelters made by silk on the substrat surface. This behavior the most noted from tarantulas of red color form (rcf) (often sold under "trade" names as Pterinochilus sp. "usambara" or "P. spinifer", "P. mamillatus").
This is the biggest Pterinochilus spp - reaches 6 cm of body lengh and to 15 cm of leg span. It is rather need to make a reservation that such a big sizes is correlates only with typical color form ("tcf"). Report of some single specimens of this color form reaching over 18 cm in leg span are given (male specimen in the Timo Raab collection, Germany (T. Raab, pers.com., 2005). The other one known forms are similar in size to P. chordatus or P. lugardi specimens.
THere're considering 4 main color forms, each of those has a slight difference in tone of coloration: typical cf ("tcf"), red cf ("rcf"), Usambara mountain variant ("umv") and dark cf ("dcf") (the last one doesn't presented in hobby).

The most intensively webbing tarantula and also the aggressive one.
Can be kept, as well as the other congeners, under the low humidity (50-60%) and temperature about 25-28°C.
Readily occupy an offered covertures spinning them with the thick web.
May kept on the dry substratum but at that requires a water bowl for drinking and misting the terrarium 1-2 times per week from the one of the tank side


raygabrieli Gallon, 2009






 Yet is unknown in captivity

Berland, 1917


Congo River basin, occurring in Angola and Congo (Zaire)


  Known only from type specimens.
Reaches 4 cm in body lengh (female).
Any biology data is absent

Do not known in hobby

Pocock, 1897


Central Africa


Also do not known in hobby. Presumedly, some time ago there was several specimens imported in Europe. But any new data is unknown

Any keeping data is absent


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