Monocentropus balfouri (Socotra Island Blue Baboon) 1-1.5" (Communal Species)
Type: Heavy Webber/Communal/Terrestrial
Temperment: Defensive/Does well in groups
Endemic Location: Socotra Island (Africa)
Adult Size: 6"
Communals of tarantulas have been a keeper's dream for the ultimate display in their collection and no this is not a "myth". Unlike many other species of tarantula that have to be kept together from the time of hatching, many breeders have had success with M. balfouri across different sacks and different ages be kept together communally and added onto even after specimens are established. In fact, we have experienced that M. balfouri grow faster and eat more often when kept in communals. However; there are a few things you should know before trying this.
1. Don't oversize the constainer. Although M. balfouri are one of the only "true" communal (or best suited species for communal setups) oversizing the container could cause them to become "territorial". It is okay if they are walking all over each other as this type of sociallization is what you want for your communal. A good rule of thumb is to try keeping these 5 tarantulas in an enclosure you would normally keep 1 tarantula 3-4" in. We have a communal of 7 3-4" M. balfouri in a 8"x8"x12" enclosure for reference and they have been fine for years.
2. Make sure you feed them enough. While balfouri are well suited for social settings, if you starve them they will still eat each other to surive. Very often you can see that there are a few individuals that are larger, or just more food driven than the others and will hog the food leaving some without food. A good rule of thumb is to feed 1.5 times the food for each animal than you would if they were individual. For example if you would normally feed 2 food items per animal, feed the communal 3 food items per animal or more. Note: crickets will eat your spider if they are large enough to keep this in mind when feeding communals of smaller sizes. Fun fact: M. balfouri will take down large prey together and even share food given there is enough to go around!
3. Provide a central area for webbing and hiding. You will want an enclosure that has about 4" of soil for the balfouri to burrow in and plenty of anchor points above ground so they can make they web wonderland above ground.
4. Maintian simple husbandry. A water dish at all times and correct humidity will ensure that the molts in the communal are healthy and no casualties occur.
5. Often when people see balfouri eat each other it is because one died in molting or other natural causes. There is always a possibility of cannibalism but feeding them enough and making sure the animals have enough resources will ensure that the balfouri wont feel the need to resort to cannibalism for survival.
Thanks for reading. If you have additional questions please let us know. Happy keeping!