Baboon spiders or tarantulas, as they are known outside Africa, are the giants of the spider world. The last two leg segments resemble the finger of a baboon hence, the common name, baboon spiders. The first South African spider known from literature was a baboon spider mentioned in 1702 by Petiver. More than a hundred years later in 1832 the first baboon spider Mygale atra was described from South Africa and only in 1871 the first genus Harpactira was established for Southern African baboon spiders.
Southern Africahas a rich fauna of baboon spiders, represented by seven genera and 42 species. They belong to the family Theraphosidae, a very diverse family, represented by 86 genera and about 612 species worldwide. The theraphosids have a pantropical distribution and are known from Africa, the Far East, Australia as well as parts of South, Central and North America.
The baboon spiders are large, with a body size varying from 13-90 mm. They are very hairy and their colour varies between hues of brown, grey, yellow to black. The carapace is frequently decorated with radiating bands while the abdomen has variegated markings. They are easily recognized by their large size, strong, hairy bodies, and the thick pad of hair present ventrally on the last two leg segments.
A Baboon spider may live up to 25 years and take about 10 years to mature.
Baboon spiders prey on a variety of small animals such as: insects - ants, beetles (e.g. tenebrionids), cicadas, cockroaches, Orthoptera (e.g. grasshoppers, locusts, crickets), Isoptera (termites), Lepidoptera (mostly Saturniidae and Sphingidae, Hymenoptera (driver ants of the family Dorylidae); arachnids - spiders, solifugids and scorpions; millipedes, reptiles, amphibians and snails: frogs and lizards.
Some theraphosids are known to deliver painful bites. Harpactira lightfooti,a baboon spider known from Cape Town and the Paarl region in South Africa are fairly aggressive and people sometimes get bitten. They produce a neurotoxic venom. Bites in humans results in a burning pain at the bite site. The patients after about two hours start to vomit; they show marked signs of shock, become pale and have difficulty walking. Bites are however, never fatal.
This one lives in my bathroom
I've included 3 web photos.