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Brachypelma smithi 2009 G09.jpg
Female Mexican red-knee tarantula, B. smithi in captivity
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphosidae
Subfamily: Theraphosinae
Genus: Brachypelma
Simon, 1891

see text

21 species

Brachypelmides Schmidt & Krause, 1994

Brachypelma is a genus of the family Theraphosidae containing several species of tarantulas.


The species are native to Mexico and neighboring countries of Central America. Habitat destruction and pet-trade collection has led these spiders to be among the few arthropods protected under the international CITES laws (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species). They are docile tarantulas which are easy to keep in a terrarium. The most famous species in this genus are the Mexican redknee tarantula B. smithi, curlyhair B. albopilosum, and the Mexican redrump B. vagans. They feed on smaller invertebrates and occasionally vertebrates, but while insects are the norm, they may also eat lizards or frogs. These species, like most tarantulas are cannibalistic, so in captivity, individuals must be kept singly, though brief captive introductions of a mate for breeding purposes can prove unproblematic, so long as they are separated once mating has occurred.

Life cycle[edit]

These spiders are relatively slow growing compared to other tarantulas, and have impressive life spans of around 20 years for females. After hatching from a clutch that may vary from 300 to 1200+ eggs, the spiderlings will molt every two weeks for the first few months, then less and less frequently as they mature. A full-grown Brachypelma may molt as infrequently as once a year. These tarantulas reach sexual maturity at the age of around five years.

Large spiders used in Hollywood movies (e.g. Indiana Jones, The Mummy Returns) are often Brachypelma smithi or Brachypelma emilia because they are very docile, though the much less expensive and only moderately more aggressive Chilean rose tarantula is frequently used as well. While it is almost unheard of for a Brachypelma to bite a human, they are quick to kick urticating hairs in self-defense, though their hairs can be less irritating than those of other species, especially the goliath birdeater


See also[edit]

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