The Togo Starburst Baboon tarantula is quite different to many of the more popular pet tarantulas. Whilst species like the Blue Baboon and King Baboon have gained in popularity at least thanks to their coloration, the Starburst Baboon is rather more muted.
Look a little more closely, however, and this subtle appearance is actually very appealing indeed. Dark markings on a very light background give it an almost “ghostly” appearance – quite different to more gaudy spiders available in the pet trade.
What has really helped to cement the popularity of Heteroscodra maculata, however, is just what a hardy tarantula this is. They have an enormous range across much of Africa, and have therefore evolved to thrive in a huge range of different environments. This makes them very easy to keep as pets.
That said, there are downsides. The Starburst Baboon is considered to be fast moving and aggressive. What is more, rumours abound in exotic pet circles that their venom is particularly potent when compared to other popularly-kept tarantulas.
It’s fair to say, therefore, that this is a more “advanced” tarantula, really better suited to more experienced keepers. If that describes you, however, read to for my detailed Togo Starburst Baboon care sheet 🙂
Wild Habitat of Heteroscodra maculata
Despite the common name of this tarantula, it isn’t restricted just to Togo. It is also reportedly found in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. This is one widespread spider to be sure!
Growing to around 5” or so in legspan, it is a mid-sized species of tarantula. It is also primarily arboreal – meaning that it tends to rest off the ground. In captivity this means that you’ll need to provide a cage with some height, together with vertical surfaces which it can explore.
Climate wise, while this tarantula exists across a huge range, generally Western Africa tends to be more humid than other parts of the continent. You will not only therefore want to provide suitable heating if your Heteroscodra maculata is to thrive, but also a regular spraying to increase the moisture level within their cage.
Togo Starburst Baboon Housing
Like their cousin the Featherleg Baboon, these tarantulas tend to be quite shy. Given the opportunity they will spend the majority of their time hidden out of sight, within the darkness of a cork bark hide. A suitable cage should therefore afford them this luxury, providing not just space but also suitable hiding places.
As an arboreal species, adults will to well in cages measuring some 30cm-45cm tall. Some reptile stores sell specialist cages for tree-dwelling species, and some of my favorites are the Exo Terra and ReptiZoo models.
- Features with full view glass, this small 8 gallon glass terrarium is convenient for feeding and having fun with your reptile or small animal pets.
- Compact and flat-packed design mini reptile tank with top opening to prevent escape and easy feeding. With a transparent PVC tray in the bottom for holding water and substrate
- The full screen top ventilation with thinner mesh wire allows more UVA UVB and infrared heat penetration.
Alternatively, whilst not quite as attractive as an Exo Terra, a range of different containers may be “repurposed” for keeping Starburst Baboon tarantulas.
For example, I have bought packs of sweet jars off Amazon before, drilled some holes in the lid for ventilation and they have made ideal cages. The downside, of course, is that accessing your tarantula is rather more difficult.
Whatever option you choose it is important to remember that these tarantulas move quickly and can climb well. Suitable vertical height, together with an escape-proof environment, are therefore crucial elements.
Heating & Temperature
As Heteroscodra maculata tends to rest up in the air, rather than on the ground, some additional thought should be put into how you’re going to heat their cage. Ideally, the hotspot will reach some 25’C, though a few degrees either side won’t cause any issues.
Traditionally, tarantula keepers have used reptile-safe heat mats to heat their cages, by placing them under the cage bottom. For an arboreal species, however, this isn’t always the most successful route; after all, your spider won’t be venturing down to the warm substrate on a regular basis.
- UPGRADED DESIGN: Temperature can be adjusted manually. POWERFUL FUNCTION: Helps reptile for daily activity, appetite and metabolism. It can keep reptile tank warm without any harm to your pets and also won't disturb animals sleep pattern.
- Durable material: made of high quality PVC material, its soft surface can be flexible and folded. The heat mat is easy to clean, convenient to use and low energy.
- ENERGY-SAVING: This heater uses a solid state nichrome heating element Which only use 8 watts of electricity and costs only pennies a day to operate. HIGH EFFICIENCY: High-quality heating wire heating, stable performance and long service life.
Instead of this, consider placing the heat mat on the side or back of the cage, then leaning suitable hides up against the heated area. In this way the air within the hide can warm up comfortably, allowing your tarantula to rest in comfort.
Some keepers recommend the use of a thermostat in order to help control the temperature of your tarantula cage. While there is some logic to this, especially in the summer months as ambient temperatures start to rise, this does of course add to the cost of setting up your Heteroscodra maculata cage. Only you can decide if you have the budget available for this added piece of kit.
Water & Humidity
I like to provide an open water dish for my larger tarantulas, in order to prevent dehydration and allow for efficient moulting. Besides this, like many tarantula keepers, I like to occasionally spray my Togo Starburst Baboon cages to temporarily raise the humidity.
Between sprayings, the cages are allowed to dry out, which prevents any build-up of moult or fungus. When doing this, it is recommended to buy a house plant spray gun specially for this purpose.
In this way you can be certain that it hasn’t been used for any kind of chemicals. At the same time, if at all possible try not to spray your tarantula - which may try to run away in order to escape the drenching - and instead just try to moisten the cage itself.
There are two key elements that you’ll want to consider for your Heteroscodra maculata cage. Firstly, as primarily arboreal tarantulas you’ll want to provide one or more vertical hides in which they can spend the daylight hours.
Possibly the most practical and cost effective solution is to purchase a roll of cork bark. These hollow branches look fantastic and, if you choose a suitable piece, will allow your spider to hide behind them or within.
My preference is for a whole tube, large enough that my Starburst Baboons can hide inside.
- Safe for all reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids (i.e. tarantulas).
- Can be easily cut to any desired length or shape
- All natural green" product"
If using a tube of cork bark, try to use a piece that is slightly shorter than your cage is high, so that your spider can easily climb into the center from above. An alternative is to simply purchase a curved piece and then rest this up against the side of the cage.
Whilst cork bark is very light, you don’t want it falling around and damaging your spider so it's worth considering how you will accomplish this. Some people like to use aquarium-safe silicone sealant to literally glue the bark into place. Other people opt to use a deep substrate, and then build this up around the bark to support it.
Speaking of substrates, this is the second element you’ll want to consider. Most reptile stores sell a range of different substrates for tarantulas, and I’ve written about some of the more popular options here. If you’re in a hurry, however, I would recommend that you consider coconut fibre, which seems like the most popular option among modern tarantula keepers.
- ECO-FRIENDLY ORGANIC and 100% BIODEGRADABLE unlike some reptile substrates that are contributing to deforestation and then go to the landfill
- INCREASES HUMIDITY for animals that need moderate to high humidity
- ABSORBENT composition allows it to soak up messes and odors, leaving a cleaner habitat for your pet
While it is entirely up to you, some people keeping arboreal tarantulas like the Togo Starburst Baboon also offer a measure of landscaping. Silk plants can be bought that look very realistic, and really help to give your tarantula tank an attractive and polished appearance.
Feeding Heteroscodra maculata
Like many baboon spiders, Heteroscodra maculata tends to have a healthy appetite. This is also reflected in its growth rate, which is considered quite rapid. Most specimens will eat once or twice a week; remember that the more you feed your tarantula the faster it will grow.
This can be handy to remember if you hope to breed tarantulas in the future; you can speed up the growth rates of females by feeding them more, while slowing down the maturation of males by keeping them on a stricter diet.
That said, as these spiders tend to be quite fast moving, and bearing in mind that uneaten food should be removed, I wouldn’t suggest over-feeding your specimen. Opening up the cage, and fishing around with your forceps trying to catch an uneaten cricket poses the risk that your tarantula may make a break for freedom.
Live insects are generally the order of the day, and can be purchased either in pet stores or, even better in my experience, ordered direct from the breeder. Crickets, locusts and roaches can all be good staples, though some specimens may also be tempted by less regular fare on occasion. Morio worms, waxworms and even the odd pickie mouse may be accepted as a treat.
Togo Starburst Baboon Handling
The Togo Starburst Baboon tarantula is not a spider to hold. They are fast, aggressive and are considered to have particularly potent venom.
I would therefore strongly advise you not to test your mettle by trying to hold such a spider.
Indeed, the difficulties with moving this species means that it is really only suitable for the more experienced keeper.
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