Mexican Red-knee Tarantula

Euathlus smithi

About This Animal

SIZE: 2.5" body with a 5" leg span

RANGE: Pacific coast of Mexico

HABITAT: Burrows in the rocky areas under thorny bushes in deserts, scrublands or dry to tropical deciduous forests

DIET: Primarily insects and other invertebrates but will eat young mice and other foods occasionally

ON EXHIBIT:  Classroom, Outreach and Encounter Animal

Tarantulas are very delicate creatures. They do not have bones or any internal skeleton. Instead they have an exoskeleton that must be shed (molted) on a regular basis. When molting occurs, the tarantula splits the old skeleton, often lays on its back and slowly pulls its entire body out, including all the sensory and defensive hairs. This takes several hours and puts the tarantula in a very vulnerable state.

The venomous but docile Mexican redknee tarantula is the most common spider used in movies due to its large size and beautiful colouration. A particularly striking tarantula, the Mexican redknee has a dark brown body and legs, with orange-red leg joints. The ends of the legs can detect vibrations, smells and tastes, to help the tarantula locate prey and the opposite sex, although it also has a group of eight eyes on the top of the carapace.

This usually docile tarantula will kick hairs off the abdomen with its hind legs when threatened, which cause blindness if they hit the eyes of a predator and can also cause a rash on the skin.