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Interesting Relationship Between Baboon Spiders and Toads

About three years ago we camped at Mana Pools in Zimbabwe. Walking along the campsite towards the river’s edge I came across an old dried out tree that clearly had some hollowed out cavities in its stem...


Sitting in a hole in that tree, watching the world go by, were these two toads...

The next time I walked past that old tree there was a baboon spider looking out from the same hole that the toads were in the previous time. Interesting I thought!>

Lo and behold, the third time walking past this tree there was the baboon spider sitting on top of one of the toads. What an interesting co-habitation I thought, and left it at that.

In July 2018 I noticed a baboon spider’s burrow in the ground at the back of our bungalow at Ingwelala. I visited the nest at about 10 pm that night to see if the baboon spider had emerged and this is what I saw! There was the toad sitting halfway in or out of the spider’s nest with the baboon spider next to it.

 

It would seem as if there a symbiotic relationship between baboon spiders and the toads, one of mutualism. The theory is that the baboon spider displays very aggressively when under threat and I’m told is known to attack even snakes – thus a protection for the toad.

The toad on the other hand excretes a poisonous fluid that keeps insects and other egg-eating creatures away from the spiders eggs or off-spring. I have googled this but that has not revealed much in this particular type of behaviour.

So far I have not had any really conclusive alternative possible explanation so would be grateful if someone could venture one.

Where does a baboon spider get its name from?  In doing research I found out that it’s because the end of the spider’s legs look like the fingers of a baboon

 

by Delwin Eggers - Bungalow 125.