Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula
Specialized and equipped predator of western Mexico, the Mexican Red-Kneed Spider is able to survive a solitude life waiting patiently for its next meal…
Facts about the Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula
Starting on a conservation level, the Mexican red-kneed spider is a very popular, but unusual pet. Unfortunately though this has led to a loss in local but wild populations.
There is, however, no immediate threat to the species since there are many areas still of Mexico, it’s favourite habitat, undisturbed. As long as it stays this way, this species of tarantula remains safe.
The Mexican red-knee is very fond of wooded, rocky ground on hillsides and close to small streams. It is the western coast of Mexico that has ground like this and is no doubt abundant with these tarantulas.
A spider lives in self-made holes in the ground, earth banks or in crevices under rocks or tree roots, which can be up to 1m long, with the entrance covered in deep leaf litter. Although a Mexican red-knee has been found living in bushes within its own constructed silken nest.
It is usually during the wet summers that the adult male goes looking for a mate. He enters the female’s burrow, then using his two pedipalps – appendages on each side of his jaws – he places sperm into her reproductive tract. She then lays about 400 eggs and carries them around in a protective sac, made of soft silk she produces herself, until they hatch about 2-3 months later. Although only a few survive until maturity.
It is large invertebrates that is the mexican red-knee spiders delight: centipedes, beetles, and grasshoppers. It relies on a simple, but effective, hunting method: sitting motionless hour after hour very patiently until prey appears. The spider has eight eyes, but they are tiny, almost useless – not telling the difference between light and dark. Instead it uses its extremely sensitive leg hairs to detect the faint changes in air movements and vibrations caused by moving prey.
The Mexican red-knee spider is like a hermit and prefers to stay close to its burrow, although floods after heavy rain can force it from its home to look for higher ground. It is the raccoons and skunks that are the spiders main predators, which can dig it out from its burrow. And it is the birds and lizards that can attack it out in the open.
The spider’s first line of defense is the dart back into its burrow, but if cornered, it remains immobile with its legs bent up close to its head, displaying the red on its knees and head. If attacked the spider has other defence strategies. It may hiss and startle the intruder, or try to bite it. It may also rub one of its hind-legs across its abdomen. This flicks off barbed orange hairs, which can penetrate and irritate the aggressor’s skin.
The male adult become sexually mature only after his last moult. Until then it is not possible to tell the gender between spiders.
A bite from a Mexican red-kneed spider is very poisonous but is not fatal to humans.
Body length: 7.5 – 10 cm
Leg-span: up to 18 cm
Sexual maturity: 5-7 years
Lifespan: up to 30 years.
The Mexican red-kneed spider is one of the largest and longest-living of all land invertebrates.