One of the most well-known tarantulas is the Brachypelma Smithi, otherwise known as the Mexican Red Knee Tarantula. These tarantulas have very vibrant "red knees" that contrast with their very dark body color, making them easy to distinguish from other types of tarantulas. The Mexican Red Knee tarantula originates from the Pacific coast of Mexico, where its natural habitat is very dry with little to no vegetation. This the "classic" pet tarantula and has enjoyed tremendous popularity due to its beauty, temperament, and long lifespan.
Mexican Red Knee Tarantula Basics
The adult Mexican Red Knee tarantulas reach a leg span of about 5 inches. The males typically live for around 10 years while females live for much longer and can live upwards of 25 to 30 years. If you are planning on having a pet Mexican Red Knee tarantula as a pet, be aware of these lifespans, as a female pet tarantula is a serious time commitment.
Mexican Red Knee Tarantula Habitats
A small (5 to 10 gallon) tank is suitable for Mexican Red Knee tarantulas. The width of the tank should be two to three times wider than the leg span of the spider wide and only as tall as the spider's leg span. The substrate (or bottom of the habitat) should be a mix of peat moss, soil, or vermiculite. The substrate needs to be about half the height of the terrarium. This gives the tarantula plenty of space to burrow and will also make sure that any falls do not injure the tarantula. Wood, cork bark, or half of a small clay flower pot can be used for a shelter/retreat for the tarantula.
Maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity is an important element of Mexican Red Knee tarantula care. The recommended temperature for the terrarium is around 75-80 F and the humidity levels should be kept around 50 to 60%. If you notice your tarantula constantly hiding out in a corner of the terrarium, it is probably too humid.
Feeding Your Mexican Red Knee Tarantula
Adult Mexican Red Knee tarantulas will eat crickets and other large insects (these absolutely must be pesticide free), the occasional pinky mouse, lizards, or even a fuzzy mouse. Do not be surprised when your tarantula eats something as large as themselves.
Mexican Red Knee tarantulas are generally docile and calm. However, like most tarantulas, if they are disturbed, they will likely kick urticating hairs from their abdomens and their back legs. These hairs are a natural defense mechanism and can embed in an animal's skin or eyes, usually causing great discomfort and physical irritation. In humans, the urticating hairs may cause an allergic skin reaction which can result in inflammation, rash, and itching. The allergic reaction can last for several hours or days. Once the tarantula releases the urticating hairs, there will be a noticeable bald spot on the abdomen where the hair originated from.
As always, if you have any questions about your pet tarantula, be sure to speak with a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets.