Common Name(s): Mexican redleg, Mexican red leg, Mexican true red leg
Scientific Name: Brachypelma emilia
Adult Size: 5-6 inches across
Lifespan: Males 6-8 years, Females 20-25 years
There are over 850 species of tarantulas in the world, but not all of them make good pets. The Mexican redleg tarantula however, is one species that can make a great pet spider. This species, especially females, can live a very long time if properly cared so knowing what they need to thrive will help you maximize your tarantula's lifespan.
Can You Own a Pet Mexican Redleg Tarantula?
With so many different species of tarantulas to choose from, one of the most important factors you should consider is whether or not it's the best pet for you. This decision includes considering the legality of owning a tarantula, whether there are ethical concerns for owning a tarantula, and if a tarantula really is the right pet for you.
Mexican redleg tarantulas are legal to own but it is very important to ensure that the spider you are purchasing was captive-bred. It is illegal to capture a wild Mexican redleg tarantulas and there is unfortunately an illegal pet trade market that still does this. Look for "CB" on the website listing to designate that the tarantula you are looking at is captive-bred.
There are no ethical concerns surrounding the ownership of a captive-bred Mexican redleg tarantula. These creatures do not require a lot of space. Additionally, tarantulas do not have the same social structures as people or other animals so there are no ethical concerns in housing them alone.
Things to Consider
Tarantulas are more like pet fish or amphibians than hamsters. This is because they are the type of pet that you simply feed and observe rather than play with. Additionally, you need to be alright with feeding your tarantula live crickets and other insects on a regular basis. Not everyone is comfortable with feeding live prey. These things should be considered before getting a tarantula to ensure your expectations of your pet are realistic.
Mexican Redleg Tarantula Behavior and Temperament
Mexican redleg tarantulas are very simple to care for. They do not enjoy being handled so socialization and interaction with your spider should be limited to times when it is necessary to pick them up. Despite handling not being something a tarantula seeks or needs, Mexican redleg tarantulas are considered docile and not aggressive. They may be a little skittish, especially if they've never been handled before, but they are not known to attack the hand that feeds them. If startled or threatened though, they can bite or release their urticating hairs to cause irritation. Mexican redleg tarantulas are also extremely quiet, don't need a lot of space, and are great on their own. They do best when they live by themselves and do not bond with people or other pets.
Tarantulas should be housed in a secure enclosure but a 5 gallon aquarium is all that is needed. Larger enclosures are fine but can make it easy for prey to hide in. Plastic containers with lids that are designed for pets are also good options but just make sure the lid is ventilated and securely attaches to the enclosure.
While Mexican redleg tarantulas don't need extremely high humidity, they do need levels that are higher than most homes typically stay at. Humidity should be kept around 70% and this can easily be achieved by misting the enclosure with water if the water bowl does not maintain this level by itself.
Specific Substrate Needs
Mexican redleg tarantulas are ground dwelling spiders so they need something to crawl on and burrow in. Potting soil without fertilizers, peat, or vermiculite are popular and simple options for tarantula substrates. Be sure to provide at least two inches of substrate to allow your tarantula an opportunity burrow in, if it so desires.
What Do Mexican Redleg Tarantulas Eat & Drink?
Pet Mexican redleg tarantulas most often consume live crickets. These are readily available both online from suppliers as well as from most pet stores. Most tarantulas will only need 1 or 2 crickets a week but after a molt, yours may want a little more. Be sure all crickets that you feed your Mexican redleg tarantula are gut loaded and provide a shallow water dish in the enclosure at all times. It is recommended to feed more than one type of insect for a well-rounded diet in protein, electrolytes, and fat content.
Common Health Problems
Parasites and injuries are the two most likely health problems to watch out for but tarantulas are usually healthy and hardy pets. This is good news since finding a veterinarian that is able and willing to treat tarantulas can be difficult. Parasites are more common in wild tarantulas than they are in pet tarantulas but just in case, you can monitor your spider's mouth for white debris which is a sign of oral nematodes. Injuries are more likely to happen, especially if your tarantula's enclosure is not secure or you irresponsibly handle it. Injured legs are the most common type of injury but if a tarantula suffers a high fall, its abdomen can burst.
Tarantulas need enough space in their enclosure to move around but other than that, they do not require any exercise. You do not need to let your Mexican redleg tarantula crawl around outside its enclosure.
Like other tarantulas, the Mexican redleg tarantula molts. This is done as they grow and may only occur once a year or less in adult tarantulas. During a molt, a tarantula is more vulnerable to injuries so it is important to leave them alone and to not put any live prey in their enclosure while this process is occurring and for a few days after the molt.
Including their leg span, Mexican redleg tarantulas can get to be up to 6 inches wide. While this is only half the size of the largest tarantula in the world, the goliath bird-eating tarantula, it is still a little bit larger than some other popular pet tarantulas like the Costa Rican zebra tarantula.
Pros & Cons of Keeping a Mexican Redleg Tarantula as a Pet
Mexican redleg tarantulas are not ideal for handling but are quiet and don't take up much space. They eat live prey so crickets and other insects will need to be offered regularly and they can live over two decades which makes them a long-lived pet.
Purchasing Your Mexican Redleg Tarantula
Some pet stores will sell Mexican redleg tarantulas but if your local shop does not, you still have some options. You can purchase tarantulas online from breeders but they are also often sold at reptile conventions and expos. Expect to pay around $100 for a captive-bred Mexican redleg tarantula.
Tarantulas should be housed individually so accidental breeding is not a concern. If you want to breed your tarantulas though, be sure to read up on how to safely allow your tarantulas to mate. Breeding tarantulas can be risky since females are aggressive towards males and can fight until the death if they are not receptive to breeding.
Similar Tarantulas to the Mexican Redleg Tarantula
Check out these other tarantula species that can also make good pets:
- Curly Hair Tarantula Species Profile
- Pink Toe Tarantula Species Profile
- Chilean Rose Tarantula Species Profile
Is a Mexican redleg tarantula hard to take care of?
No, the Mexican redleg tarantula is known to be an easy to care for species. They are usually docile and hardy spiders.
How long do Mexican redleg tarantulas live as pets?
Females can live up to 25 years but males will only live up to 8 years. If you are not prepared to have a pet tarantula for over two decades, be sure to purchase a male.
Do Mexican redleg tarantulas like to be pet?
No. Tarantulas do not like to be pet and should only be handled when absolutely necessary. They can eject urticating hairs and even bite if they feel threatened or are startled.
Abolafia, J, Anesko, K Dillman, A, et. al. Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi n. sp. (Panagrolaimomorpha; Panagrolaimidae), a Nematode Parasite of Tarantulas, Journal of Parasitology, 108(1), 30-43, 2022, doi:10.1146/annurev-ento-120709-144844