Baboon Spiders of Southern Africa - A Pictorial Guide

A Pictorial Guide to the Baboon Spiders of Southern Africa is a celebration of the richness in diversity of theraphosids, commonly referred to as baboon spiders or tarantulas, across Southern Africa.

Offering the most comprehensive insight thus far into the little-known realm of the region's baboon spiders, this guide exposes these shy yet spectacular animals in their habitats in various localities around South Africa. It presents the photographs of hundreds of specimens of all colours and sizes, including some that are completely new to science and never been seen before, totally dispelling the perception that these extraordinary creatures are only brown and dull.

Hobbyists who keep tarantulas, those who appreciate or desire to protect theraphosids - and even arachnophobes - are invited to share in Patrick Gildenhuys' fascinating journey of discovery and experience the wonder of the astounding world of baboon spiders for themselves.

The first edition of A Pictorial Guide to Baboon Spiders of Southern Africa was published in December 2009 and is available in both soft and hard-cover versions. The book features some 350 full-colour photographs of baboon spiders from across South Africa's provinces, as well as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.

About the author

Patrick Gildenhuys is a Capetonian who considers himself a true South African with a love of nature. His enthusiasm for theraphosids started as an unassuming, low maintenance hobby, with an emphasis on the extraordinary and unusual.

As the law prohibits keeping tarantulas as pets in the Western Cape, Patrick resorted to internet and book-based research to learn more about these animals. Finding a dire lack of information, the only way he could satisfy his desire to know more about these eight-legged creatures was to conduct his own field research. Since 2006 he has travelled thousands of kilometres and spent hundreds of hours on field trips, documenting and photographing countless baboon spider specimens.

Patrick is in contact with hobbyists around the world and is a member of various spider-related associations. His enthusiasm to share his knowledge, experience and findings has culminated in this unique lavish pictorial guide that reflects the enormity of his passion for theraphosids.

About baboon spiders

Some people are fascinated by them. Others hate them. What is it about a big, hairy spider that instills fear into the hearts of some, and complete fascination in others?

Theraphosids, tarantulas, or baboon spiders as they are called in South Africa, have been negatively portrayed since the rise of Western culture. People have made up and passed on stories about baboon spiders for decades. Men have been known to summon their spouses to remove a "30cm Bobbejaan spinnekop", whose bite "can kill"!

In reality, South African Theraphosids do not grow much bigger than 15cm diagonal legspan and their bite has never been recorded as fatal. In fact, no baboon spider's venom is considered medically significant. The pain from a bite is mainly attributable to the large size of their fangs...and it burns like hell!

The Bushmen of South Africa once cooked baboon spiders over an open fire and ate them. Baboons still eat them. And some ‘crazy' people keep them as pets. Whatever the attraction/repulsion, no one can say that baboon spiders are unimpressive creatures.

You are welcome to contact the author: Patrick Gildenhuys at

Order a book

The first edition of A Pictorial Guide to Baboon Spiders of Southern Africa was published in December 2009 and is available in both soft and hard-cover versions. The book features some 350 full-colour photographs of baboon spiders from South Africa's nine provinces, as well as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.

Buy through selected news agencies, or order the book directly from the author as follows:

Hard cover (ISBN: 978-0-620-45358-5)

Soft cover (ISBN: 978-0-620-45349-3)

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“A Pictorial guide to the Baboon spiders of Southern Africa” is an insight into genera that are as diverse as they are spectacular. Patrick has captured these elements in every way.

I met Patrick about 3 years ago, his understanding and knowledge of tarantulas puts him up at the top of my list of experts in the field, and his book captures this knowledge and his love for these spiders. I would recommend it as a must have for any collector, hobbyist or nature lover.

Jay Dempsey

Great book Patrick!

I am truly grateful to be one of the first to have read it. I was astounded by the colour and variation between species of Harpactira and Harpactirella. Who said baboon spiders were dull! It's a must for any spider enthusiast. You will be surprised at what beauty lies within our boundaries. Great pictures of spiders in their natural environment.

Thanks to Jilda for teaching you how to take a proper picture ☺.
Well done Patrick!
Cheers Mark

Hi Patrick

I really must congratulate you on an excellent publication. I think you've hit the nail on the head in demonstrating the beauty and diversity of our Southern African theraphosids. I'm even astounded at the variety presented. It was a good idea to resist the temptation to put species names to many of the things where identity is uncertain. I wish we'd had something like this years ago.

You've certainly kicked the perception that our theraphosids are “dull and brown” into touch

Excellent job!
Ian Engelbrecht