Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphosidae

Genus/species: Brachypelma smithi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The body and legs are dark brown with orange-red leg joints. The ends of the legs can detect vibrations, smells and tastes, to help the tarantula locate prey and the opposite sex, although it also has a group of eight eyes on the top of the carapace.

Length up to 14 cm (5.5 in)

Mexican Red Knee Tarantula30463911086_990fd616a7_k

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in in dry areas with little vegetation, usually in scrubland, deserts, dry thorn forests, or tropical deciduous forests along the central Pacific coast of Mexico.
DIET IN THE WILD: Hunting at night by lying in ambush, the Mexican redknee tarantula attacks insects, small frogs, small lizards, and mice. An area on the end of each leg is sensitive to smells, tastes and vibrations, and this is used to detect prey. The tarantula holds its prey with its pedipalps (front limbs) and injects it with venom delivered via two hollow fangs. This venom has a double purpose, paralysing the prey as well as beginning digestion. Once the venom has acted, the tarantula is able to suck up the proteins and fats of its prey, leaving just a small ball of undigested body parts

REPRODUCTION: Mating occurs in or near to the female’s burrow, where the male uses his pedipalps (front limbs) to transfer his sperm into openings in the underside of the female’s abdomen. After mating, some females will try to kill and eat the male. In the spring, the female deposits hundreds of eggs and the sperm onto a silk mat which she has made and then fashions this mat into a ball or egg sac. Fertilisation takes place within minutes and the spiderlings hatch in just less than three months. Once out of the egg-sac they spend two weeks in the burrow before dispersing. Males mature at about four years of age and females two to three years later at about six or seven years old. They are a long-lived species with females living up to 25 to 30 years old, however males only live about one year after maturity.


Mexican Red Knee Tarantula4515783385_eb611c7fd6_o

REMARKS: This usually docile tarantula will kick hairs off the abdomen with its hind legs when threatened, which cause blindness if they hit the eyes of a predator and can also cause a rash on the skin.

California Academy of Sciences Animal Attractions 2016

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