In June 2012 I was travelling for about 3 weeks in Cuba. I already visited this country in 2005 to stay with very good friend but at that time there was not time to hunt for spiders. The island of Cuba has a great variety of different Tarantula species.
I have to thank Jan Peter Rudloff for helpful information about the Theraphosidae of Cuba and for identification.
As most people know Cuba is, besides North Corea and nowadays Venezuela , one of the last "real " socialist countries . For this reason and because of the still ongoing U.S. embargo life for the people is really hard. Everything is falling apart and the things people really need are only to buy with foreign currency.
The city of Havana as some really nice parts even though many houses are more or less ruins.
But also here within the city it is possible to find Theraphosidae.
Cuba has a unique wildlife , as example there are no venomous snake species on the island and it is possible to find endemic Anoli spp.
Here is a selection of different Anoli spp. I was able to photograph during my travel.
Also the Cuban Crocodile ( Crocodylus rhombifer )is endemic to this island
As mentioned above even within the town of Havana it is possible to find spiders. Also in high numbers.
The spiders build burrows with a depth of approx. 30 cm
This species from Havana City is Phormictopus cubensis
At night the spiders are showing up at the burrow entrance
The second species I found on Cuba was Phormictopus cautus. I found them at two different places about 100 km away from each other. The spiders at the second spot were a bit larger and hairy.
The first colony of Phormictopus cautus I found by coincidence while I had a quick stop at the side of a road
Habitat of the first colony :
The second colony with many individuals I found at a place with a beautiful landscape
As said before these spiders were a bit larger than the ones I found 100 km away
The same habitat was inhabited by an undescribed Cyrtopholis species.
I found them in small burrows in a surrounding like this:
Cyrtopholis sp. The mature spiders had a bodylength of approx. . 3 cm
Near that place I stopped at a restaurant for a beer and the waiter asked me if I want to see a Tarantula. Of course I agreed and he showed me a box with a large adult male of a Phormictopus sp. he found in the morning.
At night I found the burrows of a Theraphosid sp. around the restaurant but these were much smaller. Which species the mature male belonged to I don`t know but I was told it might be Phormictopus auratus
The other spiders I found at that spot were much smaller but anyways they belong to the family of Phormictopus.
Then I found Cyrrtopholis bryantae which was one of my main aims to take pictures of. On my opinion this is one of the most beautiful Cuban species and one of the few Theraphosid spiders in the new world having a horn on its cephalothorax. This species is extremely rare and inhabits only a very small area.
Burrow of Cyrtopholis bryantae
mature female of Cyrtopholis bryantae
The function of the horn is not known.
At another area I was able to take pictures of three different species . The first was a reather small and agressive Theraphosid sp
It might also be a small Cyrtopholis sp. Mature spiders had a bodylength of about 2 cm .
They shared the same habitat with Phormictopus cf cochleasvorax which behaved like a Pamphobeteus sp. when beeing disturbed . They lifted the abdomen with urticating hairs instead of running away.
This species built colonies with many individuals
If beeing threatened this species lifts its abdomen with urticating hairs.
Not far away in a dry and hot area i found another beautiful species
Habitat and burrow
There was also a nice Lycosa sp. showing up in a smaller burrow
About 200 km away in another dry habitat I discovered again three more species. One very large was Phormictopus bistriatus
This species made its burrows in embankments next to the roads
Phormictopus bistriatus is a large species with around 7 cm bodylength
Much smaller with 2 cm bodylength is Cyrtopholis regibbosa which inhabits a dry and sandy environment.
I also found again Phormictopus auratus . Beneath a stone I found 3 juveniles living close to ants which had a painful bite.
Finally a video of a large Dipluridae sp. This one I found in a mountainous and moist area.