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Mexican Red-Rump Tarantula

Brachypelma vagans

  • 4 - 5 inches in adult size

  • Lives 25+ years (females)

  • Great for beginners

  • Adult needs 10 gallon terrarium

  • Kept at 75° to 80° F

  • Special lighting is not necessary

  • Needs 55 - 65% humidity

  • Fairly docile, can be skittish

  • Nocturnal (awake during the night)

Brachypelma vagans

General

The care information provided on this page is applicable to most species of terrestrial tarantulas, but specifically the Mexican Red-Rump. The Mexican Red-Rump tarantula is found in deep burrows in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Florida. This species is popular in the pet trade due to its relatively large size and ease of care. Their jet black colouration has also given them the name of Mexican Black Velvet tarantula, but the sprinkling of red hairs on their rump has led to the more common name. This is an excellent species for beginner tarantula keepers.



Temperament

Most tarantulas should be considered a display only animal, but some can be gently handled and the Mexican Red-Knee is known for a fairly docile species, but can also be somewhat skittich and occasionally aggressive. Handling should be kept to a minimum as tarantulas in general are not the sort of pet that needs or enjoys human interaction. If you must pick up your tarantula, do so by placing one hand in front of it while gently nudging it's back legs to move it onto your palm. Gripping a tarantula by the body between the second and third sets of legs is not recommended unless you are an experienced keeper. Please be aware that tarantulas can and will bite if they feel threatened. A bite from a Mexican Red-Rump is comparable to a bee sting. This species also has type III urticating hairs on its abdomen which it can flick towards potential attackers. These hairs can cause allergic reactions, rashes and itching. Always use caution when handling any tarantula.

Housing

A general rule of thumb with terrestrial tarantulas is that their enclosure should be at least two to three times the leg span of the tarantula. Ground space is more important than height and 5 - 10 gallon glass terrariums with tight fitting screen lids can work well for this as can plastic critter keepers or plastic sweater boxes with attached screen or sufficient air flow. Substrate for any burrowing species should be 4 - 5 inches deep and composed of a slightly damp peat moss/soil or invertebrate mix. Humidity should be kept at approximately 55 - 65% to ensure that your pet is properly hydrated and that burrows do not dry out and collapse. Drift wood or a small cave of some sort should be provided to ensure that your pet feels safe and comfortable.

Heating & Lighting

Tarantulas are nocturnal and do not require UV lighting or heat lights. Temperature should be kept between 75° to 80° F during the day, but can drop to approximately 70° F at night. Many tarantulas will do well at room temperature, but if your home gets too cold for this, you can place a small under-tank heater beneath one side of the enclosure. Avoid the use of heat lamps as these can dehydrate your pet.

Feeding

All tarantulas are carnivores. In the wild they will feed on insects, rodents and small lizards and should be provided with a suitably varied diet in captivity as well. Adult tarantulas should be fed once weekly and any uneaten prey items must be removed from their enclosure to prevent them from harming your pet. Commercially available feeder insects such as crickets, mealworms, silkworms, waxworms cockroaches, etc. will be readily accepted and pinky mice can also be offered once every few months for added variety. Though tarantulas usually get all of their necessary liquids from their prey, it is recommended that a shallow water dish be provided for adult tarantulas to ensure adequate hydration. Misting the enclosure occasionally with a water sprayer will also provide your pet with an opportunity to drink.

Additional Information

All tarantulas must molt (shed their exoskeleton) as they grow. Young tarantulas will do this frequently while adults may only molt once a year or even less often. During this time, your pet may stop eating and will probably spin webs in preparation for molting. When molting actually occurs, the tarantula will lay on its back with it's legs in the air as it begins to break free from the old exoskeleton. This process can take anywhere from 2 - 12 hours and it is very important that you do not disturb your pet when it is molting. They are extremely fragile at this time and touching them could damage their new skin. Do not feed a newly molted tarantula for at least one week after the molt. Until their exoskeleton is completely dry, they can be harmed by feeder insects.

Similar Species

Mexican Red-Leg Tarantula (Brachypelma emilia), Mexican Red-Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi), Mexican Fire-Leg tarantula (Brachypelma boehme), Honduran Curly-Hair Tarantula (Brachypelma albopilosum), Mexican Pink Tarantula (Brachypelma klaasi).


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