Brachypelma albiceps – Mexican Golden Red Rump Tarantula Caresheet

brachypelma albiceps

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Scientific Name: Brachypelma albiceps (Pocock 1903) (Previously B.ruhnaui)

Common Name(s): Mexican golden red rump tarantula

Range: The central highlands of Mexico, particularly Guerrero and Morelos

Habitat: Scrubland and grassland, burrowing under rocks and in abandoned rodent burrows.

Experience Level: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 13cm (5″)

Growth rate: Medium

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: Depends on the individual , while some can be quite docile, some individuals can be somewhat feisty and skittish and are often a little unpredictable so best left as a “look but don’t touch” tarantula.

Description

brachypelma albiceps rangeThe reason for the common name, Mexican Golden Red Rump, is easy to understand.  This striking looking tarantula comes from Central Mexico, has deep red hairs overlaying the black on the abdomen and a light golden carapace, with black legs.

Like all Brachypelma species B.albiceps are CITES II listed which prevents international trade, but they do breed successfully in captivity and so are available on the pet trade, if not quite as commonly as some other Brachypelma species.  Slings tend to be fairly easy to obtain but, typically for a CITES listed tarantula, adult specimens are harder to come by and more expensive.  They are a hardy species however, easy to care for, and with both their striking coloration and tendency to be fairly active and often on display, they are highly sought after.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to keeping tarantulas page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

golden-red-rump-tarantula-brachypelma-albicepsAs a medium/large terrestrial tarantula and an opportunistic burrower, a golden red rump will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation. Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish. In my experience B. albiceps don’t tend to be heavy webbers compared with some other Brachypelma species (such as b.albopilosum) and they are quite active, often out on display and often moving things around and rearranging their substrate and cage furniture, making them a fantastic species to watch. They don’t like high humidity (around 50% – 60% is ideal) so don’t mist or spray for adults, but always have a small dish of fresh water available.

A diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal. As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.

Mexican golden red rump tarantula moulting

B.albiceps moulting (see more pics in this series here)

Premoult B.albiceps showing a large bald patch on the abdomen

Premoult B.albiceps showing a large bald patch on the abdomen

 


Further reading

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide (2009)

 

Brachypelma albopilosum – Honduran Curlyhair Tarantula Caresheet

brachypelma albopilosum

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Scientific Name: Brachypelma albopilosum (Valerio 1980)

Common Name(s): Curlyhair tarantula (Honduran curlyhair tarantula)

Range: The east of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica

Habitat: Scrubland, brush, and the edges of forest

Experience Level: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 14cm (5.5″)

Growth rate: Medium

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: A very docile species, one of the most handleable tarantulas

Description

The curlyhair gets its name, as you might expect, from the exceptionally long and curly hairs covering its plump body and legs, giving a very distinctive look to offset its rather drab colouration.

Range or Brachypelma albopilosumBeing CITES II listed, as all Brachypelma species are, hasn’t prevented this wonderful tarantula from becoming very popular with keepers, primarily due to their docile nature and tolerance to handling. Most keepers report that their specimens are among the most tractable of all tarantulas, almost never acting skittish or defensive, making them an ideal beginner species. They do have urticating hairs, but they are not quick to flick them.

B. albopilosum breeds readily in captivity, so slings and juveniles are easily obtained and relatively cheap, though like all Brachypelma species adults will tend to be more expensive. They are a hardy species, and faster growing than some other Brachypelma species such as the popular Redknee (B. smithi) which only adds to their popularity. While it’s true they don’t have the beautiful coloration of species such as B. smithi, or even G. rosea, and their unique curly hairs can make them look somewhat “scruffy”, that only adds to their charm and any would be tarantula keeper could do far worse than starting out with one of these wonderful Ts.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to keeping tarantulas page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

curlyhairAs a medium/large terrestrial T and an opportunistic burrower, a curlyhair will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation. Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish. In my experience B. albopilosum tend to be heavier webbers than other Brachypelma species. They don’t like high humidity (around 50% – 60% is ideal) so don’t mist or spray for adults, but always have a small dish of fresh water available.

A diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal. As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.


Further reading

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide (2009)

 

Brachypelma smithi – Mexican Redknee Tarantula Caresheet

species-brachypelma-smithi

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Scientific Name: Brachypelma smithi (F.O. Pickard-Cambridge 1897)

Common Name(s): Mexican Redknee (Mexican Red-kneed tarantula)

Range: Southwestern Mexico

Habitat: Dry scrubland and brush

Experience Level: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial, burrower

Size: Leg span up to around 15cm (6″)

Growth rate: Slow

Venom: Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Temperament: A generally docile species, though many will flick hairs quite readily.

Description

The beautiful Mexican Red Knee is the most iconic of all tarantula species, having been a popular pet species, and its appearance in a number of Hollywood movies and TV shows including Home Alone, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and several James Bond films to name just a few.

range-b-smithiOne look at this impressive tarantula and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.  A large, robust looking spider with bright banded coloration, from deep blacks to oranges and the distinctive dark orange or red colour on the legs.  Females are full bodied and reach a leg span of around 15cm (6 inches).  They are also believed to be one of the longest living species, with females living 25 years or more in captivity.

They were once by far the most popular species of tarantula. but the entire brachypelma genus were added to appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty in 1985, which prevented their export from Mexico, and effectively stopped international trade.  However, B. smithi breeds quite readily in captivity, so it’s still widely available though adult specimens in particular are markedly more expensive than some other tarantulas.

Keeping B. Smithi in Captivity

B. smithi makes a hardy and low maintenance pet.  As a terrestrial, new world species with low humidity requirements, the Mexican Redknee is one of the simplest tarantulas to care for, and is suitable for beginners to the hobby.

For general care requirements, read the beginner’s guide to tarantula care page which gives a good overview of tarantula husbandry.

As a ground dwelling burrower, your redknee will need a glass or plastic enclosure with more floor space than height, with a deep dry substrate (2 – 3 inches of coconut coir, or dry potting soil), and plenty of ventilation.  Provide a hiding place (such as half a flower pot, coconut shell, or a piece of cork bark), and a shallow water dish.  Brachypelma species don’t like high humidity (around 50% – 60% is ideal) so don’t mist or spray, but always have a small dish of fresh water available.

bsmithi-bald-spotA diet of crickets, cockroaches and locusts is ideal.  As with all tarantulas, feed prey items of a suitable size – no larger than the spider’s abdomen.  Redknees tend to be good eaters, so if they seem uninterested in food you can be fairly sure they will soon moult.  Since they like to flick hairs, there will likely be a bald spot on the abdomen and this will darken in premoult (picture shows a bald spot on a female red knee, when in premoult this will look a lot darker).


Further reading

Distribution and Natural History of Mexican Species of Brachypelma and Brachypelmides
A. Locht, M. Yanez and I. Vazquez – JOURNAL OF ARACHNOLOGY, 1999
 (PDF)

Stanley A. Schultz, Marguerite J. Schultz. The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide  (2009)

Brachypelma smithi in the wild – www.mantid.nl