Orange Baboon Tarantula

Pterinochilus murinus

Last updated: November 3, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Their nickname is "Orange Bitey Thing"!

Orange Baboon Tarantula Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Arachnida
Order
Araneae
Family
Theraphosidae
Genus
Pterinochilus
Scientific Name
Pterinochilus murinus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Orange Baboon Tarantula Conservation Status

Orange Baboon Tarantula Locations

Orange Baboon Tarantula Locations

Orange Baboon Tarantula Facts

Prey
insects, lizards, mice, birds, crickets, roaches
Main Prey
insects
Name Of Young
spiderlings
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Their nickname is "Orange Bitey Thing"!
Most Distinctive Feature
Bright orange bristles
Other Name(s)
OBT, Orange Bitey Thing, Pterror
Temperament
Feisty
Habitat
terrestrial and semi-arboreal, warm humid climate
Diet
Carnivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Location
central and southern Africa

Orange Baboon Tarantula Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Orange
Skin Type
Bristled hairs
Lifespan
Males 3-4 years, Females 12-15 years
Weight
1-3 ounces
Height
1-2 inches
Length
2-3 inches long, leg span 5-6 inches
Venomous
Yes
Aggression
High

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The orange baboon tarantula is both orange and ornery.

The orange baboon tarantula (OBT) is covered in bright orange bristles. Their faces resemble furry, orange baboons. OBT’s, as they are sometimes referred to, are known to have an ornery disposition and can act aggressively. They can grow to be similar in size to the Mexican Red Knee with a body around three inches and a leg span of five to six inches. These are Old World tarantulas and live in central and southern Africa. Orange baboon tarantulas are kept as pets but not recommended for beginners.  

Amazing Facts

  • They are covered in tiny orange bristles.
  • They can grow to be two to three inches long with a leg span of five to six inches.
  • Their temperament is a bit grumpy with a tendency to rear up in a threat posture.
  • Orange baboon tarantulas are venomous and their bites are harmful to humans.
  • They are native to central and southern Africa.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the orange baboon tarantula is Pterinochilus murinus. They are commonly called OBTs for short which pet hobbyists sometime comically refer to as the “orange bitey thing” due to their aggressive nature. The latin word murinus means “grey-mouse-colored” and they are sometimes called another nickname Pterror (silent “P”), a play on their scientific name, Pterinochilus.

Appearance

The orange baboon tarantula is rightfully named due to its furry coat of orange hair. Some tarantulas have orange legs but this one is completely covered in orange bristles called setae. The other remarkable coloration is the bottom of their feet which are an iridescent blue-green. You can see these when the tarantula rears waving its front legs and pedipalps in a threat position. They have two larger black, beady eyes that are prominent beside its six smaller eyes.

The females are a bit larger than the males with a body that is two to three inches and stout. Their leg span is five to six inches, which is about the length of a cell phone. They have eight segmented legs with lighter colored knee joints. Two appendages on the front of their body look like more legs but they are a tad shorter, these are the pedipalps. Their abdomens are oblong and have darker markings with the spinnerets at their end.

Usambara Orange Baboon Tarantula (Pterinochus murinus).
The orange baboon tarantula features orange bristles on its body and a bit of a cranky temperament.

©Audrey Snider-Bell/Shutterstock.com

Behavior

The most remarkable behavior of the OBT is that they are quick to react with a threat pose. The threat pose is observed when a tarantula rears up and waves its front appendages and shows its fang. This aggressive stance sends a clear message to the predator to back off. If the orange baboon tarantula still feels threatened, it is quick to attack and bite. This is how it received its nickname “orange bitey thing”. Their bites are venomous and harmful to humans, so anyone who is bitten should seek immediate medical attention.

In the wild, this defense mechanism serves them well. They may begin by retreating or fleeing before going into a threat pose, but they are considered more aggressive than other tarantulas. As a terrestrial and semi-arboreal animal they have to be aware of predators both on the ground and in the surrounding trees. As an Old World species they do not have urticating hairs to flick at an approaching threat.

They spend their days in their burrows or in a large web tunnel that they make on the ground or in bushes/tree’s lower branches. At night they come out to try to find food such as insects, crickets, roaches, worms, small lizards or frogs.

Habitat

Orange baboon tarantulas are from central and southern Africa. There are populations spread out in many countries. Some of the countries they can be found in are Kenya, Zambia, Angola, Congo, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

They are both terrestrial and semi-arboreal making webbed tunnels on the ground and in trees, but they will also make burrows to hide in during the day. Sometimes they make their own burrows while other times the take over the burrow of an abandoned creature. They spin a webbed “door” to cover the entrance of their burrow as protection.

The climate in Africa where they live is warm and very humid. In the wild, they adjust to the weather by staying hidden during the day and moving deeper into their burrow when needed to find cooler temperatures. In captivity, they should be kept in an enclosure that is 75°-78° with a higher humidity of 70-80%. Both terrestrial and arboreal surroundings should be available to this species when in captivity.

Predators and Threats

The orange baboon tarantula has similar predators as other spider species. Predators include other spiders, lizards, snakes and birds. OBTs are not afraid to take on predators that are a little bigger than themselves. They can actually turn the tables and attack and kill animals bigger than themselves. Sometimes, they will not even give the threat pose, and instead, quickly bite their threatener, releasing their venom.

During the day these tarantulas hide from predators in a deep burrow in the ground or safely in their webbed tunnels. At night they use the hairs on their legs to sense movement around them, warning them of trouble.

What Eats Orange Baboon Tarantulas?

The animals that eat orange baboon tarantulas are snakes, lizards, birds and larger spiders. Tarantula hawks are one of its biggest, and most vicious, predators. These creatures are actually not a hawks but are large, blue and orange wasps. They go after tarantulas by attacking and stinging them, which paralyzes the tarantula but doesn’t kill it. They then inject one egg into their abdomen and bury them alive. When the wasp larvae hatches it feeds on the still living tarantula.

What Do Orange Baboon Tarantulas Eat?

Orange baboon tarantulas eat insects, frogs, lizards, small birds, and small mice. They hunt at night by waiting just inside the entrance of their burrow. When they feel the movement of a prey passing by, they lurch at it and subdue it with their pedipalps using their fangs to stabilize it. They quickly inject it with venom and use their web to ball it up. OBTs use their straw-like mouth to suck up the liquefied prey.

In captivity they are voracious eaters and aggressively attack food put in their enclosures. This behavior is one of the reason pet hobbyists enjoy watching this unique creature.

What is the Conservation Status?

Orange baboon tarantulas are not listed by the IUCN as a threatened animal. They have populations in many different countries in central and southern Africa so their population seems to be healthy.

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

You might think that a grumpy, aggressive tarantula might have a hard time finding a mate; however, you see this aggressiveness in both males and females. This might make it seem even harder! But they tend to put their differences aside for the sake of procreating because they continue to reproduce. Like other tarantula species, the females do have a tendency to eat the males right after mating, so there is still that!

Female orange baboon tarantulas lay around 50-100 eggs. She forms an eggs sac that she hides in her burrow until the eggs are ready to hatch. The mother turns the sack periodically, assisting in fertilization. Can you imagine 100 grumpy baby spiders all running around? Well, they don’t stick around for long and will depart to find a new home of their own shortly after hatching.

The life span of the orange baboon tarantula is quite different between males and females. Males only live to be three to four years old, and females live 12-15 years. If males don’t get eaten by their mate, that is!

Population

Due to the range and habitat of the orange baboon tarantulas, it remains uncertain what their exact population is. They are not listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means they are not considered threatened, and they have recorded populations in many countries in central and south Africa.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

Orange Baboon Tarantula FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are orange baboon tarantulas venomous?

They are venomous, and they have a reputation for biting! Their venom is harmful to humans but has not been recorded as fatal.

How big do orange baboon tarantulas get?

Their bodies are around two to three inches long with the females having a leg span of five to six inches and the males being a bit smaller.

Do orange baboon tarantulas make webs?

Yes, they make webs to cover their burrow, but they do not catch insects in their webs like other spiders.

What do orange baboon tarantula eat?

In the wild orange baboon tarantulas eat insects, small lizards, frogs and small mice. As pets they can be fed crickets or dubia roaches.

Where are orange baboon tarantulas found?

They are native to central and southern Africa.

Are Orange baboon tarantulas good for beginners?

No, they are a pet for experienced tarantula keepers. They are a little more difficult to take care of due to their aggressive nature and biting.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Tarantulafriendly.com, Available here: https://tarantulafriendly.com/orange-baboon-tarantula/
  2. eol.org, Available here: https://eol.org/pages/111585
  3. The Tarantula Collective, Available here: https://www.thetarantulacollective.com/caresheets/pterinochilus-murinus

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