Mexican Redleg Tarantulas as Pets

Red Leg Tarantula, Brachypelma boehmi. Mexico
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Mexican redleg tarantulas are perfect for pet owners that are looking for something exotic, but doesn't require a high level of care. These spiders are docile creatures and suitable for beginner and experienced owners. You have to be willing to consider your spider a pet (and deal with any shock that may cause), but for the right owner, these tarantulas make great pets, and they are perfect for a beginner pet owner who is exploring spider ownership.

The tarantula has a dark-colored body with the second joint of its legs being pink, red, or orange (which is where it gets its name). Its carapace is light colored with a distinctive black triangle at the front. After the tarantula molts, the colors on the body are more pronounced.

Breed Overview

Common Name: Mexican redleg tarantula

Scientific Name: Brachypelma emilia

Adult Size: Leg span of up to 5 to 6 inches

Life Expectancy: Males live up to 5 years while females can live up to 30 years

Difficulty of Care: Easy

Mexican Redleg Tarantula Behavior and Temperament

The Mexican redleg tarantula is a mostly docile species. Because of its temperament, its coloration, and impressive size, it makes it a very popular pet species. Mexican redleg tarantulas are often quite docile but can be skittish. When stressed, it is very reluctant to bite but it does have urticating hairs and will flick these if it feels threatened. These can cause a major irritation to humans and can be very dangerous if they are inhaled or enter your eye. Take care when handling the tarantula and keep it a safe distance away from your face.

In their natural habitat, which is Western Mexico, primarily to the west of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, they can live in a wide diversity of habitats, from dry coastal forests to more typical tropical areas inland. In the wild, they create burrows to stay safe and avoid predators.

Housing Mexican Redleg Tarantula

A small (5 to 10 gallon) tank is suitable for Mexican redleg tarantulas. For terrestrial tarantulas, the width of the tank should be two to three times wider than the leg span of the spider and only as tall as the spider's leg span. Some exotic pet shops or reptile shows sell specially-built tarantula tanks. These are typically made of glass or perspex, and have a solid, close-fitting lid. The true requirements of a tank are a tight fitting lid to prevent escape and enough ventilation for the tarantula.

Because they like to dig, it's best to provide 4 to 6 inches of peat moss, soil, or vermiculite that can be used as a substrate. You'll also want to add in wood, cork bark, or half of a small clay flower pot that can be used for a shelter or retreat. You will also need a hygrometer for measuring humidity and a thermometer to measure the temperature. You'll want the tank at a 65 to 70 percent humidity level and the temperature at 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 30 degrees Celsius).

Because these tarantulas come from a tropical climate, you'll need a heat mat to keep the tank warm. It should be placed on the side wall or rear of the tank so that it doesn't interfere with the tarantula's ability to burrow in the tank. By putting it on one side of the tank, you'll create a temperature gradient. This is good. It allows one side of the tank to be warmer and one side cooler, which provides a more natural environment for the tarantula.

Food and Water

These creatures are slow growing, which means they are slow eaters. They can be fed a one or two times a week and don't be alarmed if they don't always eat their food. Uneaten food should be removed from the cage after 24 hours. Crickets and other large insects (which must be pesticide-free) can be fed to your Mexican redleg tarantula. Larger spiders can have an occasional pinkie mouse.

Most of their water intake will come from regular misting and the high humidity levels in the tank. It's still good to keep a very shallow water bowl in the tank. This should be cleaned daily and should be extremely shallow to prevent drowning.

Common Health Problems

Like most tarantulas, Mexican redlegs are healthy and low-maintenance, and the major health concern is internal injuries or even death from falling. Dropping the spider from any height should be prevented, and is a reason not to regularly handle this pet. When you must move your pet, and an enclosed container isn't used, hold your spider over a soft surface to prevent injuries from falling. Most tarantulas will molt annually, but if you find it's been more than 12 months, do not get too concerned. A longer season is quite common with this species.

Is It Legal to Own a Pet Mexican Redleg Tarantula

Check with your local and state laws about the legality of owning a Mexican redleg tarantula. Because of their long life and slow reproductive cycle, Mexico is limiting the export of these creatures to prevent extinction. No more wild collection is possible.

Purchasing Your Mexican Redleg Tarantula

Purchase your tarantula from a reputable source to make sure you are not contributing to an illegal animal trade. Speak with an exotics vet or a pet store with insects and other exotic creatures. Be sure to verify the gender of your tarantula, since that will play a big factor in your new pet's lifespan.

Similar Pets to the Mexican Redleg Tarantula

If you like the idea of a more exotic creature, but feel the Mexican redleg tarantula isn't for you, check out:

Otherwise, check out other exotic animals that can be your new pet.