Idiothele mira, also sometimes known as the Blue Footed Baboon, is a mid-sized burrowing tarantula from Africa. To my eyes, they’re one of the more exciting species currently in the hobby, owing to a great combination of attractive appearance and fascinating behavior.
As the common name of Idiothele mira would suggest, this tarantula species benefits from surprising metallic-sky-blue tips to it’s legs.
The rest of the body is, frankly, a pretty boring dull grey/brown with typical baboon spider markings on the carapace and abdomen.
However, the general dullness of the body helps to create the striking contrast against those stunning blue feet.
Idiothele mira is not a big tarantula as an adult. Females tend to achieve a maximum leg span of around 4-5” at maturity. Like many African tarantulas, males tend to mature at a much smaller size.
Indeed, the difference in size between a mature male and female can lead one to wonder whether the poor guy will ever survive the encounter!
Idiothele mira produces impressive burrows, presumably to escape from the extremes of the African climate. This is one of the few tarantula species known to science to build a “trapdoor” over their burrow entrance, which adds yet more interest to their care.
Provided with enough space and substrate you’ll be able to enjoy watching your Blue Footed Baboon slowly re-designing their cage interior, and constructing impressive subterranean passageways.
This tunnelling behavior is obvious from a very early age, and so providing a “larger than average” enclosure can be well worth the effort if you’re to fully experience their burrowing abilities.
Cages & Housing
While Idiothele mira isn’t a particularly large tarantula at maturity, the burrowing habit means that a generously-proportioned cage with a healthy depth of substrate is strongly recommended. I would personally recommend a substrate depth of at least twice the leg span of your tarantula, though of course other keepers will have their own opinions on this matter.
Personally I’m keeping small juvenile specimens of Idiothele mira in 32oz clear plastic deli cups, into which I’ve punctured holes with a dissecting needle for ventilation. A close-fitting lid is of course essential.
Larger specimens are housed in custom-built acrylic tanks with dimensions of 30cm x 30cm, providing a generous depth of substrate to accommodate their burrows.
- Rectangular Kritter Keepers have self-locking lids with hinged viewer/ feeder windows
- Capacity: 5.90 GAlarge. Size: 15 3/4-inch large by 9 3/8-inch width by 12 1/2-inch height
- Kritter Keepers have well-ventilated lids in assorted colors
A range of other containers could potentially be repurposed for housing Idiothele mira in captivity. Plastic household storage boxes are one idea, with ventilation added by drilling numerous small holes with an electric drill.
Another would be utilizing an old fish tank, while buying or building a secure lid. These can be bought pre-made from places like Amazon, though be sure to purchase the vented lid that exactly matches your aquarium.
Due to the depth of substrate recommended, many more “standard” tarantula cages like Exo Terras are probably not best suited, unless you can generously slope the substrate depth up towards the back of the cage.
Heating & Temperature
I’m not a fan of providing specific temperature guidelines for tarantulas in captivity.
The reality is that tarantulas can thrive across quite a broad range of temperatures, from 20’C up to 28’C (68-82’F) or sometimes even more.
Tarantulas kept warmer will typically eat more and grow faster, but keeping your spider towards the cooler end of the scale shouldn’t lead to any problems at all.
My spider room is heated to around 22-25’C / 72-77’F depending on the time of the day, and my specimens of Idiothele mira are all thriving under these conditions.
Water & Humidity
It is generally considered best practise to provide all juvenile and adult tarantulas with an open water dish, allowing them to drink as and when they see fit. With a serious burrowing species like Idiothele mira, however, this isn’t always easy. Water bowls can be quickly overturned, and even buried, by I. mira.
There are a few possible solutions here. Firstly, you could consider dispensing with the water bowl entirely. This is what I have done for my small juvenile specimens. Instead, I add a small amount of water to the container every few weeks, allowing the droplets to sit on the web, and slowly soak into the substrate. Once this has tried out suitably I then re-apply. The youngsters can then drink water droplets from their web on a regular basis.
A second option is to consider attaching the water bowl firmly to the side of the cage, using a hot glue gun for example. This ensures that even if your spider digs beneath the water bowl, the bowl should remain in place.
Lastly, of course, you could just take a chance and dig out the partially-buried water bowl from time to time in order to refill it.
Burrowing tarantulas like Idiothele mira don’t generally require much in the way of decor. They will soon re-arrange the contents of their cage, meaning that any careful landscaping you’ve done will soon be spoiled.
You may want to add a piece of two of cork bark so your new spider has somewhere to hide before it finishes constructing its burrow. Apart from this, it is really only a generous depth of substrate such as coco fibre or topsoil that is required. Your tarantula will do the rest, constructing an impressive system of burrows around the enclosure.
Food & Feeding
One of things that I personally find so appealing about Idiothele mira is their healthy appetites, and subsequently how quickly they can grow. Some spiderlings I bought roughly 8 months ago at the time of writing are already a couple of centimetres in diagonal leg span, and are showing their full adult colors.
Standard rules apply when feeding Idiothele mira. They’re feisty feeders, capable of subduing much larger prey items than you might initially expect. Hatchling spiderlings are fed on 1st or 2nd instar black crickets in my collection. They are fed every 5 days or so, with all spiderlings checked some hours later, and any uneaten crickets are removed.
Once spiderlings reach small juvenile size – a centimetre or so in body length – they are moved onto small locusts. I find locusts a lot easier to deal with, and they’re also less likely to cause problems if one remains in the cage while a spider is moulting.
The locusts are scaled up in size, with my adult specimens capable of taking larger hopper locusts. My adults are fed roughly once a week, though I don’t worry too much if the odd feeding is delayed.
Most standard livefoods are suitable for Idiothele mira including suitably-sized roaches. My own preference is not to feed mealworms or superworms, especially to burrowing tarantulas, for fear that they can dig down into the substrate, pupate, and then cause issues as adult beetles.
Attitude & Temperament
Idiothele mira is an Old World tarantula. This means that in theory it should be rather more defensive than many more docile New World spiders.
Interestingly, while my specimens of Idiothele mira are more likely to throw up a threat pose than, say, a Brachypelma hamorii, they are far from the worst in my collection.
Indeed, based on my experience, I’d say that Idiothele mira could represent a strong contender for “first Old World tarantula”.
If you’ve got a degree of familiarity with some more docile specimens then this could be an ideal route into the rather exciting world of more defensive tarantulas and/or those reputed to have stronger venom.