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Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae) are a family of spiders known as huntsman spidersbecause of their speed and mode of hunting. They also are called giant crab spiders, because of their size and appearance. Larger species sometimes are referred to as wood spiders, because of their preference for woody places (forest, mine shafts, woodpiles, wooden shacks). In southern Africa the genus Palystes are known as rain spiders or lizard-eating spiders. Commonly they also are confused with baboon spiders, which are practically unrelated, being in a different infraorder, the Mygalomorphae.
Sparassidae occur in practically all warm temperate to tropical regions of the world, including much of Australasia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.