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
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.
The 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.
As 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.