An interesting escape strategy
of a Hysterocrates species

Here is a short photo story of a my little "scuba diver" Hysterocrates sp.*:

A while ago I was told, that Hysterocrates hercules comes from tropical rainforest in Africa and is found at riverbanks - don't know if this is true. Because of this information, I thought to keep my Hysterocrates sp. a bit more humid, like other "mud spiders". I put my spiderling, with a bodylength of about 2 cm, in a 17 cm tall and 8 cm in diameter stewed fruit glass with a screw cap and a lot of holes in the cap. I filled it with 11 cm peat soil and kept it a little bit moist to slightly wet. After a few days she had dug a lot and built a burrow with several tunnels and exits.


Now I wanted to see what it would do, when the water level rose. So I "let it rain" till the water level was standing about 2,5 cm above the ground and had also flooded it's burrow with 2,5 cm, which reaches the bottom of the glass (see photo #1).

From then on it was living in the "dry" upper parts of her burrow, BUT - this is the interesting thing - when I disturbed the spider, it would run down to the water line and putting it's first legs (see photo #2)...

...and the 'head' in the water (see photo #3).
When I disturbed it a bit more, it continued and dived completely (see photo #4...
...and photo #5)...
...and ran in the tunnel under the water line in the direction of another exit (see photo #6),...
...but not immediately diving up. It waited there for a while, sometimes for more than 15 minutes - the first time I saw this I was afraid that it would drown. But the hair of it's body caught enough air, so that it was protected in a "suit of air" (see photo #7)...
...[insertion] at other times it doesn't run in the flooded tunnel in the direction of another exit, but digs herself in the mud on the ground and waits there till the disturbance is gone (see photo #8)[/insertion]...
...after a while, when it thinks "the coast is clear" again, it crawled further on (see photo #9)...

...and broke the surface at the opposite exit of the tunnel (see photo #10).
It was really amazing, to watch the spider with this escape strategy!

The spider grew very well in this setup, got larger and larger, so that I rehoused it in a bigger tank.... it is living in one of my "Haplopelma tanks" (see photo #11). These tanks are made especially for Haplopelma spp. and other spiders, which live in tube-like burrows or which love to dig a lot and deep.
They are 25 cm x 10 cm and 35 cm high. The lid is a perforated metal plate.
For more details about these custom made tanks see the article by VON WIRTH & HUBER (2002).

On photo #12 you can see a part of it's funnel. It has dug the whole tank down, straight till the end, around the corner, along the "whole" backside and on the opposite side 12 cm up again in a 48° angle.
The first part of the horizontal adit is a bit widened, which is the spider's "living room".

related links to this topic:


  • VON WIRTH, V. & M. HUBER. (2002): Einige Praxis-Tipps zur Haltung von Haplopelma Arten und anderen Röhren bewohnenden Vogelspinnen. DeArGe Mitteilungen 7(11): 14-23.
    (On the website of the DeArGe you can download this article as PDF file for free: >>click here<<)

*) I got this spider as small spiderling which was labelled "Hysterocrates hercules". In the meantime I have big doubts that this is a real H. hercules, because I was told they are normally not in the pet trade and most "Hysterocrates hercules" in the pet trade are different species. So I prefer to call it Hysterocrates. sp., because I don't think it is the real deal.
See also the comments of Mike "troll" (message #2052) and Rick West (message #2136) about the Hysterocrates hercules "problem" on the ATS_enthusiast mailing list.
, or this posting by Richard Gallon on the tarantula store forum.