COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Brachypelma hamorii
RANGEMexico along central-Pacific coast
HABITATDry to semi-dry scrublands, grasslands, and deciduous tropical forests
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Program and General Information
The Red Knee Tarantula is a type of burrowing tarantula that inhabits the Pacific mountains of Mexico. The Red Knee Tarantula is most known for its hairy body and the red bands that are along its legs.
The Red Knee Tarantula inhabits the complex scrub-forest habitat and semi-desert regions where there is an abundance of food. They need to burrow, so they are rarely found on rock faces.
The Red Knee Tarantula is found in Mexico, south-western United States, and Panama. They are quite common now to be kept as pets as they are slow growers and they have a beautiful body in color and shape. They also have a bite that could hurt a human but would not be severely harmful.
Common Physical Features
The Mexican Red Knee is a moderately large tarantula. A fully mature Red Knee can reach approximately 4-6 inches in its total leg span. They typically reach full size in about 5-7 years; males may only take 4 years to reach adulthood. They are black with orange setae (hair) on their legs and abdomen. They have eight eyes that are very small and generally not very strong. Tarantulas have chelicerae, equipped with “fangs”, which are connected to venom glands used to immobilize and predigest prey. To each side of the chelicerae are pedipalps, or leg-like appendages used for food manipulation as well as during copulation.
Habitat and Global Range
Found exclusively in Mexico along the central Pacific coast. They live in dry to semi-dry scrublands, grasslands, and deciduous tropical forests.
Nocturnal predator of small arthropods. Prey is injected with venom and enzymes that begin breaking it down into ingestible fluids. They do not spin a web to catch food, they typically rely on ambushing their prey.
Behavior and Life Cycle
Mexican Red Knee Tarantulas are solitary. They will only socialize during the breeding season; older spiders may readily cannibalize younger spiders. Males will approach females with special hooks on their pedipalps, used to “lift” the female and bend her backwards. He then uses his other set of legs while collecting sperm with his pedipalps into a packet, which he inserts into the female’s spermatheca, which can store the male’s living sperm.
Spiders are oviparous, which means their babies come from eggs laid in a large egg sack. Females will produce an egg sack a few weeks after mating has occurred. This species produces large egg sacs, usually containing in excess of 200 eggs. The female fertilizes the eggs with sperm. The female will usually carry the egg sack between her chelicerae. Once the young hatch, they are left to survive on their own. Eggs hatch inside the egg case after about 3 months, and will remain inside for another 3 weeks.
Immature tarantulas molt up to 4 times per year; adult females molt once a year throughout their adult life. Males reach maturity typically at the 20th instar (phase between two molting periods).
The Mexican Red Knee Tarantula is currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List and placed under CITES Appendix II. Mass exportation for the pet trade was and continues to be a primary threat to this species; the species was protected in 1985 and now requires a permit to legally export and import. The species is still regularly smuggled due to the species’ popularity and high value of adult tarantulas.