Mexican Redknee Tarantula Care
Mexican Redknee Tarantula Care
The Mexican redknee tarantula, Brachypelma smithi, is native to the rainforests and deserts of Central America and Mexico. They are a very popular species in the hobby due to their ease of care, beautiful appearance, and calm behavior. This specific tarantula, discovered in 1888, can grow between 4-6 inches within its lifespan, which is 20-30 years for females, partially due to their more aggressive temperament. Males usually lives around 10 years.
To differentiate whether you have a male or female, you should examine an old exoskeleton. Look into the abdomen where the carapace is. A female will have a sperm receptacle while a male will be clearly missing it. On the same area of a male, there will be a patch of bristles, known as setae, where the male tarantula makes the sperm web.
The Mexican redknee tarantula, due to its long life-span, is a very slow grower. During their life, as they grow, they will need to molt. During this time, you may see the spider's behavior change. It will become very lethargic and eventually lay on its back. It will darken in color, lose its hair, and become swollen. If you see this, it is essential that you do not touch or disturb it as it is preparing to exit its old exoskeleton. After the process is complete, the tarantula will lay still as the new exoskeleton hardens. Any handling that must be done at this time, such as removing uneaten food should be done as gentle and quietly as possible. Only remove the old exoskeleton once the tarantula is once again active. It will not eat until the new fangs have hardened with the rest of the shell.
Since the Mexican Redknee naturally lives in deep burrows, its habitat should replicate this. A vivarium of at least 10 gallons should be used along with some form of shelter inside of it, such as a cave, that acts as a hiding spot. The tarantula will eventually adapt to this as its home and dig a burrow under it.
The substrate used for the enclosure should be an even amount of sand and peat moss, 4 inches deep. The substrate should always be moist, but not excessively (Always use organic sand and peat moss. Ensure it has absolutely no chemicals, or additives). To keep the level of humidity correct within the vivarium, it should be misted on a regular basis to maintain a humidity level between 70-80%. To measure this correctly, a hygrometer is required.
A large, shallow water dish should also be provided to be sure the tarantula is getting all of the water it needs and to help maintain the humidity level within the habitat. The dish should be cleaned every 2-3 days and dechlorinated water should always be used to fill the dish.
The vivarium's temperature should never drop below 75° F, or go higher than 85° F. To achieve this temperature range, a heating mat should be placed on the backside of the vivarium. A thermometer should also be used to be sure it's at the proper temperature. (Always use extreme caution with heating mats and shut them off if the habitat is warm enough.)
The tarantula should be fed a variety of food such as insects, and smaller mammals and reptiles. When young, smaller insects such as pinhead crickets should be fed to it. Once it reaches adulthood, it should be fed pinkie mice occasionally. Feeding should happen every 2-3 days.
Though handling should be avoided at all costs, if you decide you want to hold it, or it's necessary, there are safe ways to do it. Gently guide it into the palm of your hand and once all of its body is completely on it, slowly raise it out of the enclosure, avoiding any sudden movements that could disturb it. Keep your hand close to the ground since the tarantula's abdomen is fragile and a fall even from a short distance can crack it. If this happens, the tarantula will die within a matter of hours. If you see the tarantula rear up on its back legs and reveal its fangs, then do not touch it as it feels threatened and is prepared to attack. Another defense mechanism the tarantula uses is its ability to rub the hairs off of its abdomen with its back legs which it will then toss at the threat, which can irritate a human's eyes and skin. Gloves and glasses should be used whenever handling.
If bitten seek immediate medical attention as some people have severe allergic reactions and need treatment.