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Mexican Redknee Tarantula
(Brachypelma smithi)

The Mexican Redknee is a burrowing tarantula indigenous to the Pacific Coast regions of central Mexico. Because of their beauty and docile nature these animals have become the most popular pet tarantula of all time. MexicanRedKnee_01.jpg (31029 Byte)

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In memory of my pet, "TARA"

February 1986 - August 1988


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The Mexican Redknee (Brachypelma smithi) is a member of the Theraphosidae (Bird-eating spiders) and has been collected since the 1970's and 1980's. It was originally discovered by a collector named H.H. Smith in 1888, and was one of the first spider species to enter the pet trade.

Range: Pacific Coastal regions of Mexico.

Habitat: Enjoy living in and around natural debris, such as cacti, bushes, logs, and rock piles. Found in deserts and scrublands

Diet: Mostly insects, however, adults may eat young mice or small lizards.

Reproductive Behavior: Male tarantulas initiate courtship first by spinning a web and depositing small drops of sperm on the surface. Then he finds the female and quiets her with caresses. Using a mating structure (arm-like appendages called pedipalps) located near the mouth, he breeds with the female. Immediately afterwards he leaves quickly to avoid the possibility of being eaten. After a period of time the female's abdomen will begin to swell with eggs. She then releases them into a cocoon where they develop into juvenile tarantualas.

Special Features: Because of its gentle nature, huge body size and beautiful coloration, the Mexican redknee tarantula has been used in many films such as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and a few James Bond films. All tarantulas have venom but this venom usually does not harm humans. However, some people may have an allergic reaction so it is best to leave them alone.

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Where The Name Tarantula Came From

The name tarantula comes from a real spider that is found in Spain, it lives mainly in an area around the town of Taranto. In fact the real tarantula (The European Wolf Spider, Lycosa Tarantula) is distantly related to the other spiders that share its name.

The real tarantula is a small slightly hairy spider (about 2 inches ((5cm)) across). It is not dangerous to humans!

The people of the Spanish town of Taranto, believed that if they were bitten by they spider that they called tarantula, if the bite was not treated quickly, that they would die.  The only way to survive it's bite, they believed, was to do a dance called the Tarantella. This involved very fast spinning and jumping until they could dance no more and fell to the ground exhauasted. This the locals believed was the only cure.

The real Tarantula of course is, like the other spiders wrongly named after it, are not really dangerous to most humans. You may feel a little sick if you have been bitten by a tarantula, but normally that is all.

Nowadays, all large hairy spiders have been given the name tarantula, even though many are only very distantly related to the real tarantula. Tarantulas are often called bird eating spiders, very few actually eat birds, those that do usually raid nests and take the young chicks, most however, like our native spiders only eat insects.

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Copyright 2001 Alfred Kucera. All rights reserved.