Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula: Care Guide & Species Profile


If you’re considering owning the Mexican red-knee tarantula, it’s essential to understand their requirements for care, housing, feeding, and breeding. In this article, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about this fascinating species of tarantula.

Introduction to Mexican Red-Knee Tarantulas

Native to the deserts and scrublands of Mexico’s Pacific coast, the Mexican red-knee tarantula is one of the most popular species of tarantula kept in captivity. One of the reasons for their popularity is their striking appearance. They have a velvety black body and bold, bright red stripes on their legs and abdomen. Their body length can range from 4-6 inches, making them a medium to large-size tarantula.

One interesting fact about Mexican red-knee tarantulas is that they are known for their longevity. In the wild, they can live up to 25 years, while in captivity they can live up to 30 years. This means that if you decide to keep a Mexican red-knee tarantula as a pet, you will have a long-term companion.

Another fascinating aspect of Mexican red-knee tarantulas is their behavior. They are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they will typically hide in their burrows or under rocks to avoid predators. When threatened, they will raise their front legs in a defensive posture and may even rub their abdomen with their hind legs to release urticating hairs, which can cause irritation to the skin and eyes of predators.

If you are considering keeping a Mexican red-knee tarantula as a pet, it is important to note that they require specific care. They need a terrarium with plenty of space to move around, as well as a hiding place and a water dish. Their diet consists of live insects, such as crickets and mealworms, and they should be fed once or twice a week. It is also important to maintain proper temperature and humidity levels in their environment.

In conclusion, the Mexican red-knee tarantula is a fascinating and popular species of tarantula. Their striking appearance, longevity, and unique behavior make them a favorite among tarantula enthusiasts. However, it is important to do your research and ensure that you are able to provide the proper care for these amazing creatures before deciding to keep one as a pet.

Species Profile

Appearance and Size

The Mexican red-knee tarantula is a fascinating creature with distinctive features. Their characteristic black body is covered in glossy black hairs, which are slightly longer and more bristly at the joints. Their legs are a bright red-orange color with black banding, and the underside of their abdomen has red hairs around the edges, making them a striking sight to behold.

Adult Mexican red-knee tarantulas reach a maximum size of around 6 inches, with females usually being larger than males. Their size and coloration make them a popular choice for tarantula enthusiasts and collectors.

Distribution and Habitat

Mexican red-knee tarantulas are found in Mexico’s western states, including Michoacán, Colima, Nayarit, and Jalisco. They are primarily found in arid, scrubby habitats, where they create silk-lined burrows for shelter and to lay their eggs. These burrows provide a safe haven for the tarantulas, protecting them from predators and extreme weather conditions.

Despite their popularity in the pet trade, Mexican red-knee tarantulas are facing habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their natural habitats and ensure their survival in the wild.

Behavior and Temperament

In the wild, Mexican red-knee tarantulas are docile and solitary creatures that only interact with others during breeding. They are nocturnal and spend most of their time in their burrows, coming out at night to hunt for prey. When threatened, they may rear up on their hind legs, expose their fangs, and try to intimidate their attacker. However, they are generally considered to be one of the friendlier tarantula species and are suitable for beginner tarantula owners.

As pets, Mexican red-knee tarantulas can be fascinating to observe. They have a slow and deliberate movement, and their feeding habits can be intriguing to watch. They are not social animals and should be kept alone in their enclosure to prevent fighting or stress.

Lifespan and Growth

On average, Mexican red-knee tarantulas live for around 15-20 years in captivity. Like other tarantulas, they will molt as they grow, shedding their exoskeleton to allow for further development. During this process, they are particularly vulnerable to injury and should not be disturbed.

Proper care and attention can help ensure that your Mexican red-knee tarantula thrives in captivity. They require a warm and humid environment, with access to water and a varied diet of insects. Regular cleaning of their enclosure and monitoring of their health can help prevent illness and ensure a long and healthy life for your pet tarantula.

Housing and Enclosure

Mexican red-knee tarantulas are fascinating creatures that make great pets for experienced spider keepers. These tarantulas are native to the deserts and scrublands of Mexico and are known for their striking appearance and docile nature. If you’re considering bringing a Mexican red-knee tarantula into your home, it’s important to create a suitable enclosure that meets their specific needs.

Choosing the Right Enclosure

When setting up your Mexican red-knee tarantula’s enclosure, it’s essential to choose the right size tank. As a general rule, the enclosure should be at least 2-3 times the spider’s leg span in length and width. This gives your tarantula plenty of room to move around and explore their environment.

It’s recommended to use a vertically oriented enclosure that provides climbing opportunities, as Mexican red-knee tarantulas like to spend time off the ground. The enclosure should also have a secure lid to prevent escape. A screen lid with small openings is ideal, as it allows for good ventilation while keeping your tarantula safely inside.

Substrate and Decorations

The substrate in the enclosure should be deep enough that your tarantula can burrow. Suitable substrates include coconut fiber, peat moss, vermiculite, or a mixture of these materials. Avoid using sand or gravel, as these can be abrasive and cause injury to your tarantula.

Creating a cozy retreat for your tarantula with cork bark or other decorations can also help them feel secure. Mexican red-knee tarantulas are not particularly active and prefer to spend most of their time hiding in a burrow or shelter.

Temperature and Humidity

Mexican red-knee tarantulas require a warm, dry environment, with daytime temperatures ranging between 75-85°F (24-29°C) and nighttime temperatures dropping to around 70°F (21°C). It’s important to avoid exposing your tarantula to extreme temperatures or sudden temperature changes, as this can be stressful and harmful to their health.

They also need low humidity levels, with around 40-60% relative humidity. Too much moisture in the enclosure can lead to mold growth and respiratory problems for your tarantula.

Ventilation and Lighting

Ventilation is crucial to maintain good air flow and prevent the buildup of moisture in the enclosure. Be sure to provide adequate ventilation by using a screen lid and placing the enclosure in a well-ventilated area.

Some tarantula keepers also provide a low-level light source, such as a red or blue bulb, to promote a natural day/night cycle. However, this is not strictly necessary and can be omitted if you prefer.

By following these guidelines, you can create a comfortable and safe home for your Mexican red-knee tarantula. With proper care and attention, these fascinating creatures can live for many years and provide hours of enjoyment for their keepers.

Feeding and Diet

Preferred Prey

Mexican red-knee tarantulas are fascinating creatures that have unique feeding habits. They are carnivores and primarily eat insects, such as crickets, roaches, or mealworms. However, some tarantula owners have reported that their pets have been known to consume small rodents, lizards, and even other tarantulas in the wild. It’s important to note that you should never feed your tarantula wild-caught insects, as they may contain parasites or other harmful substances.

Feeding Schedule

Feeding your Mexican red-knee tarantula can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to know the proper feeding schedule. Adult tarantulas should be fed 2-3 times a week, while juveniles need to eat more frequently. It’s important to avoid overfeeding your tarantula, as this can lead to obesity and health issues. Additionally, if you notice that your tarantula is refusing food, don’t panic! Tarantulas can go for weeks or even months without eating, as they have a slower metabolism than other animals.

Tips for Feeding

When it comes to feeding your Mexican red-knee tarantula, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you should remove any uneaten food from the enclosure after 24 hours to prevent it from rotting and causing hygiene issues. Secondly, it’s important to provide a shallow water dish for your tarantula to drink from, as they need access to clean, fresh water. Lastly, it’s important to note that tarantulas can be sensitive to vibrations and movement, so it’s best to feed them in a quiet and calm environment.

Overall, feeding your Mexican red-knee tarantula can be a fun and rewarding experience. By following the proper feeding schedule and tips, you can ensure that your tarantula stays healthy and happy for years to come.

Handling and Interaction

Tarantulas are fascinating creatures and can make great pets for those who are knowledgeable about their care. However, handling them can be risky and should be done with caution. In this article, we will discuss when to handle your tarantula, safe handling techniques, and signs of stress to look out for.

When to Handle

As mentioned earlier, handling tarantulas is not recommended unless it is necessary for their health or for transferring them between enclosures. It’s important to remember that tarantulas are not domesticated animals and can become easily stressed or agitated when handled.

If you do need to handle your tarantula, make sure to do so gently and carefully to prevent injury. Always wash your hands before handling to avoid transferring any harmful bacteria or chemicals to your tarantula.

Safe Handling Techniques

When handling your tarantula, it’s important to remember that they are delicate creatures. Never grab them by their abdomen or pull on their legs, as this can cause injury or stress. Instead, let them crawl onto your hand or a clean, flat surface and be patient as they explore their new environment.

It’s also important to keep handling sessions short and infrequent. Tarantulas can become stressed easily, and prolonged handling can lead to health issues or even death.

Signs of Stress

It’s important to know the signs of stress in your tarantula. If your tarantula feels threatened, they may display signs of stress, such as raising their front legs, curling into a ball, or flicking urticating hairs. If you notice any of these behaviors, it’s best to leave your tarantula alone for a while.

Remember, tarantulas are not pets that crave attention or interaction. They are solitary creatures that prefer to be left alone. If you want to observe your tarantula, consider setting up a terrarium with plenty of hiding spots and a comfortable environment for them to thrive in.

Overall, handling your tarantula should be done with caution and only when necessary. By following safe handling techniques and being aware of signs of stress, you can ensure that your tarantula stays healthy and happy.

Health and Common Issues

Molting Process

As mentioned earlier, tarantulas molt periodically as they grow. This process is essential for their growth and development, as it allows them to shed their old exoskeleton and grow a new one. During this process, your tarantula may appear weak and vulnerable, and you should refrain from handling them or disturbing their enclosure. After molting, your tarantula will require plenty of time to rest and recover. It’s important to note that during the molting process, your tarantula may refuse to eat and drink. This is normal, and you should not be alarmed. Make sure to provide plenty of fresh water and food once your tarantula has fully recovered.

Dehydration and Overhydration

Dehydration and overhydration are two common health issues that can affect tarantulas. Dehydration can occur if your tarantula doesn’t have access to clean water or if the humidity levels in their enclosure are too low. You can prevent dehydration by providing a shallow water dish in your tarantula’s enclosure and misting their enclosure regularly to maintain a suitable level of humidity. On the other hand, overhydration can happen if the substrate is too damp, which can lead to respiratory problems and fungal infections. Make sure to check the substrate’s moisture levels regularly and adjust as needed.

Parasites and Infections

Just like other animals, tarantulas can also be susceptible to parasites and infections. External parasites, such as mites and ticks, can be easily spotted on your tarantula’s body. If you notice any signs of infestation, such as small black or red dots moving on your tarantula’s body, it’s essential to take action immediately. You can remove the parasites by gently brushing them off your tarantula’s body with a soft-bristled brush. For internal parasites and infections, it’s best to take your tarantula to a veterinarian with experience treating exotic pets. Preventative measures, such as good hygiene and regular enclosure cleaning, can help minimize these risks.

Preventative Care

It’s always best to take a preventative approach to your tarantula’s health. Providing a clean and suitable environment is crucial for your tarantula’s well-being. Make sure to clean your tarantula’s enclosure regularly, including removing any uneaten food and feces. Providing a healthy and varied diet is also important, as it can help prevent nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, make sure to provide clean water at all times and check the water dish daily. If you notice any signs of a health problem arising, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or abnormal behavior, it’s essential to take your tarantula to a veterinarian with experience treating exotic pets.

Breeding Mexican Red-Knee Tarantulas

Sexing Your Tarantula

Sexing tarantulas can be challenging, but it’s important to determine your tarantula’s sex if you plan on breeding them. In males, the pedipalps (the small appendages near the mouth) are usually longer and more prominent than in females.

It’s important to note that sexing tarantulas can be difficult and sometimes requires the help of an experienced breeder or veterinarian. In addition to examining the pedipalps, other physical characteristics, such as the size and shape of the abdomen, can also provide clues to a tarantula’s sex.

Mating Process

Mexican red-knee tarantulas mate during the female’s breeding season, which can occur in late winter or early spring. The male will often approach the female’s web cautiously, tapping his legs to signal his presence and intentions.

If the female is receptive, she will respond by lifting her front legs and allowing the male to approach. The male will then deposit sperm on a web he spins and transfer it to the female by inserting his pedipalp into her genital opening.

It’s important to note that mating can be dangerous for the male, as the female may see him as prey and attack him. Breeders often monitor the mating process closely and separate the pair if necessary.

Egg Sacs and Incubation

After mating, the female will lay her eggs and encase them in a silk cocoon, known as an egg sac. The number of eggs can vary, but a typical clutch can contain anywhere from 50 to 200 eggs.

The female will guard the egg sac fiercely, often refusing to leave it even to eat or drink. After around 6-8 weeks, the eggs will hatch, and the spiderlings will remain in the egg sac for a further 2-3 weeks before emerging.

Once the spiderlings emerge, they will be very small and vulnerable. Breeders often separate them into individual containers to prevent cannibalism and ensure they receive proper care and nutrition.

Breeding Mexican red-knee tarantulas can be a rewarding experience for experienced breeders. However, it’s important to do your research and ensure you have the knowledge and resources to provide proper care for both the adult tarantulas and their offspring.

Conservation Status and Legal Considerations

Threats to the Species

The Mexican red-knee tarantula is not currently considered endangered, but their habitat is under threat from habitat loss and human encroachment.

The Mexican red-knee tarantula is native to Mexico and is found in the western states of Colima, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guerrero. Their habitat is primarily in the tropical deciduous forests and thornscrub, but they can also be found in agricultural areas.

Their habitat is under threat due to deforestation, urbanization, and agricultural expansion. These activities destroy the tarantula’s natural habitat and leave them with no place to live. Additionally, the Mexican red-knee tarantula is often illegally collected for the pet trade, which further reduces their population in the wild.

Conservation Efforts

Several organizations, such as the Mexican government’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), are working to conserve the Mexican red-knee tarantula’s habitat and prevent illegal pet trade.

CONABIO is working to create protected areas for the Mexican red-knee tarantula and other endangered species. They are also working with local communities to promote sustainable development practices that protect the tarantula’s habitat.

Other organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund and the Tarantula Society of America, are also working to conserve the Mexican red-knee tarantula and other tarantula species.

Legal Ownership and Permits

As with any exotic pet, it’s essential to research the legal requirements for owning a Mexican red-knee tarantula in your specific location. In some areas, you may require a permit to keep them.

It’s important to note that while the Mexican red-knee tarantula is not considered endangered, they are still protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This means that there are regulations in place to control the trade of the Mexican red-knee tarantula and other tarantula species.

Before purchasing a Mexican red-knee tarantula, make sure to research the laws in your area and ensure that you are obtaining the tarantula from a reputable breeder or seller.


The Mexican red-knee tarantula is an enchanting species that can make a rewarding and fascinating pet for those with a passion for exotic animals. With proper care, housing, feeding, and breeding, you can enjoy the beauty of these incredible creatures for years to come.

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