The Mexican Redleg Tarantula is a ground-dwelling species of tarantula that is native to western Mexico. It is a popular pet spider due to its easy-going nature, ease of care, and small size. They are ideal pets for novice arachnid enthusiasts for these reasons, as well as their beautiful coloring and docile temperament.
These docile, easy-to-handle spiders rarely bite and are generally happy to be handled. That said, if they do bite, it can cause painful redness and swelling because they are venomous. Like other tarantula species, they possess urticating hairs that shoot when they feel threatened, which can also cause pain and inflammation.
If you are looking at getting into the world of pet spiders and tarantulas in particular, the Mexican Redleg is one of the best choices. Read on to find out more about this docile arachnid.
Quick Facts About the Mexican Redleg Tarantula
|Species Name:||Brachypelma Emilia|
|Temperature:||75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Temperament:||Docile and easy to handle|
|Color Form:||Dark-colored body with pink, red, or orange leg joints. Lighter carapace with a black triangle.|
|Lifespan:||Males: 5-10 years; Females: 25-30 years|
|Size:||5-6-inch leg span|
|Diet:||Live crickets, mealworms, and other insects|
|Minimum Tank Size:||5-10 gallons|
|Tank Set-Up:||4-5 inches of soil or vermiculite for burrowing|
|Compatibility:||Great for beginners|
Mexican Redleg Tarantula Overview
Mexican Redlegs are large, dark-colored spiders that are found primarily in dry, arid regions with little vegetation. They live in small burrows that they create at the base of plants or rocks, usually covered with a carpet of web that extends out of the burrow opening. This is why it’s important to have a fairly thick substrate and plenty of natural features in their enclosure.
These spiders are one of the most sought-after species of tarantula for beginners and experts alike, and this has, unfortunately, put strain on their numbers in the wild. Their popularity has led to them being taken out of their natural habitats to be sold as pets, and the species have now been placed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species protection list.
How Much Do Mexican Redleg Tarantulas Cost?
Mexican Redleg Tarantulas typically go for between $100-$150, depending on availability and age. You can expect to pay a higher price for females and younger spiders, but this is not always the case. It’s a good idea to look for Redlegs that need a home, as many people do not fully understand the responsibility involved and look to sell them later at a much lower price.
It’s important to note that the purchase price of the tarantula will likely be a far lower cost than the equipment and housing that you’ll need, so you should budget accordingly.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
Most tarantulas do not enjoy being held, but a large part of the popularity of the Mexican Redleg is its docile nature and easy-going temperament, and it is usually fine to hold. That said, young Redlegs are fairly skittish and quick to flick their urticating bristles when provoked, and it may take time to become tame enough to hold. Remember that some of these spiders may never be happy to be held, and it all comes down to your unique pet. When handling your spider, it’s important to do so carefully and gently and to take the process slowly. Keep the handling sessions short, and make sure to handle it in a safe space away from other animals and to avoid a potential fall.
These are quiet, solitary animals that do not need interaction or attention from you at all. While you may be able to hold them at times, they are mostly still, restful spiders that are a joy to watch rather than interact with. Aside from when they are feeding, they are mostly still, and it’s only during hunting that you’ll really see them in action.
Mexican Redlegs are large, dark spiders that typically have a black abdomen covered in brown urticating hairs, with the characteristic orange to dark-red knee joints that give them their name. They have a creamy brown carapace with a distinctive black square or triangle. Males and females have a similar appearance and can be difficult to tell apart, although males typically have a slightly smaller body with longer legs. They have a leg span of around 5-6 inches and use their front two legs for catching and holding prey and the rest for walking.
How to Take Care of a Mexican Redleg Tarantula
Tarantulas should ideally be housed alone in their own tank, as they are not particularly social creatures. One of the reasons for the species’ popularity is their small size, so they do not need much space to be happy. A minimum of around 5 gallons is ideal for a Mexican Redleg, but it shouldn’t be much bigger than 10 gallons, as this can make it difficult for the spider to find its prey and is difficult to clean. Redlegs are not known to climb, preferring to burrow into the substrate, so a height of at least 1 foot is great. The top should be sealed with a mesh screen to allow for adequate airflow.
As these spiders need to burrow, you’ll need a substrate of 4-5 inches deep. Most Redleg owners use a mixture of substrates, including soil, peat moss, vermiculite, and coconut fiber. This substrate should also have small pieces of wood or bark to act as a small hideout for your spider.
Heating and lighting
Mexican Redleg Tarantulas need a tank temperature of around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, ideally with a thermal gradient that allows for one side of the tank to be warmer than the other. Heating is typically provided by a simple heat mat and a ceramic heater or light on one side of the tank to keep it slightly warmer. It’s vital to keep the temperature carefully monitored with a thermometer to make sure your spider is not getting too hot or cold.
Your Mexican Redleg will need several small hiding places made from natural materials like wood, bark, bamboo, or rocks where they can shelter. Make sure to have potential shelters on both sides of their enclosure so they can move comfortably between the temperature gradients.
Mexican Redlegs require a humidity level of around 65-70%, which can be maintained with a humidifier or by simply spraying the tank with clean water. Some owners also put small cotton balls soaked in water in a bowl to help maintain humidity; just be sure your spider can easily climb out. A hygrometer will help you keep the humidity levels perfect.
Your Redleg’s tank requires little maintenance, other than a regular clean every 4-6 months. You’ll need to change the bedding and clean the tank and all accessories with hot water. Also, be sure to remove any uneaten food within 24 hours.
Do Mexican Redleg Tarantulas Get Along With Other Pets?
Mexican Redleg Tarantulas are solitary spiders and should not be kept with other tarantulas, not even the same species. In the wild, they live alone and will only come together during mating. Even spiderlings do not stay together long and will be independent after only 12-16 days.
For these reasons, it’s best to keep your Mexican Redleg far away from any other pets that you may have.
What to Feed Your Mexican Redleg Tarantula
Mexican Redlegs prefer live prey, and for most Redleg owners, live crickets are the easiest options because they are readily available, but the spiders can also eat other small insects, such as mealworms or silkworms. Some adults may even enjoy an occasional pinky mouse, but make sure that they are smaller than the size of your spider.
The frequency and amount of food to feed your Redleg depends on their age and size, but as a general rule, two crickets twice a week is ideal. Luckily, you do not have to worry too much about over-feeding your Redleg, as they will eat according to their needs. Any food that they have left can simply be removed after 24 hours. Also, most tarantulas can survive for months without food, and your spider may even go through natural periods of fasting during molting.
A key indicator of health is your tarantula’s abdomen. If it is looking small and shriveled, your spider is likely dehydrated or underfed.
Keeping Your Mexican Redleg Tarantula Healthy
Mexican Redlegs are typically healthy, hardy spiders that have few health issues, provided that they have a clean tank and plenty of healthy food. Some females are known to live for up to 30 years in captivity, so they are a hardy species overall. The only real concern is an accidental fall during handling, which can cause fatal injury, or dehydration or malnutrition. If you handle and feed your spider with care, you can expect them to live for a long time.
Redlegs go through molting periods while growing to full size, usually between July and October. They will eat little during this time, and you probably will not need to feed them at all. The process can take several weeks to complete, and you should avoid handling them during this time.
Breeding of the Mexican Redleg is most definitely a job left to the experts because it can be a complicated process. Females are known to be highly aggressive after mating and may even try to kill the male if he does not flee fast enough.
Females typically lay 200-400 eggs, which are carried in a sac between her fangs for 1-3 months. Spiderlings will hatch 3 weeks before leaving the sac and spend another 12-16 days in their burrow before dispersing. Females are ready for breeding at around 6-7 years, and males at 4-5 years, although this may happen quicker in captivity.
Are Mexican Redleg Tarantulas Suitable for You?
If you are a novice in the world of owning and keeping spiders, the Mexican Redleg is a great beginner’s choice. They are easy to care for and house and are docile spiders that can be easily tamed and don’t mind being held. These spiders usually eat their fill and leave the rest, so keeping them well fed is not a problem, and crickets and other small insects are ideal.
One thing to keep in mind is that Mexican Redlegs have a long lifespan, so they are a big responsibility. If you are up for the task of owning one of these tarantulas, though, they make fascinating pets indeed!
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Featured Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.