Mexican Redknee Tarantulas

The Mexican redknee tarantula (Brachypelma smithi) is black in color with orange patching at the leg joints. Once molting has taken place, their coloration becomes more pronounced. These arachnids grow up to 17 cm in size and dwell in warm, humid locales. They are native to Mexico. It is found in the pet trade and considered a good beginning tarantula due their laid-back nature. Due to overcollection, it is now CITES-protected and considered endangered in the wild.

Like most other tarantulas, the Mexican redknee tarantula consumes crickets, other large insects and some small vertebrates, such as lizards and mice. These tarantulas are among the longest-living tarantulas, with females living up to 30 years.

Mexican redknee tarantulas may fight with and kill one another when competing for resources. Females may consume males after mating. These tarantulas also fall prey to lizards, snakes and some birds. Another threat to the Mexican redknee tarantula is the tarantula hawk wasp. These wasps grow up to 5 cm long, making them larger than most other wasps. They have bluish-black bodies and rust-colored wings.

Tarantula hawk wasp adults feed on plant nectar. Their larvae, however, need a animal host to feed. The adult females seek tarantula burrows and vibrate their bodies in mimicry of prey. When the tarantula emerges from its burrow to investigate, the wasp stings the tarantula and lays her eggs inside the immobilized arachnid’s body. The tarantula remains alive and paralyzed until wasp eggs hatch and the larvae begin to feed upon it.

Mexican redknee tarantulas are docile arachnids. However, they will defend themselves when provoked. An attack often includes biting or flicking barbed hairs at approaching predators. While the bite of the Mexican redknee tarantula is not fatal to humans, it can produce localized pain akin to that of a bee or wasp sting. In the event of a severe reaction to any spider bite, seek medical attention.