Brachipelma Emilia, or Mexican Redleg Tarantula, belongs to the Theraphosidae family of the Mygalomorphae infraorder. This is a very calm and slow creature that does not pose a danger to humans. With a caring attitude towards it, it does not show aggression towards its owner and is unpretentious to the conditions of detention. As a pet, it began to be kept at the end of the 19th century.
The Mexican Redleg Tarantula is very similar in behavior and appearance to Brachypelma Smithi but differs from it in the presence of large orange-red stripes on the limbs. The species was first described in 1856 by Scottish zoologist Adam White. In 1994, it was added to Annex II of the Washington Convention, restricting its trade-in and export outside Mexico. Most of the spiders caught in the wild are exported illegally.
The body length of males is 5-6 cm and of females 6-7 cm. The main background of the color is reddish-brown. Prosoma (cephalothorax) has a shade from light beige to dark brown or almost black. An orange triangle is visible on it, which begins in the eye area and tapers towards the back. The eyes are close together. The opisthosoma (abdomen) is colored black. Sometimes it is covered with reddish-brown hairs.
The middle part of the legs is colored light beige, yellow or light orange. The rest of the leg segments are black. Both males and females are similar in size and coloration, but males are slightly darker in color and have a metallic sheen. The lifespan of Brachipelma Emilia tarantulas: males die a few weeks or months after mating. Females live up to 20 years.
Brachipelma Emilia is endemic to Mexico. Under natural conditions, it is distributed only in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora, located in the northwestern part of the country. The tarantula was introduced to Panama and Costa Rica, where it now has relatively small populations.
It inhabits dry forests and savannas and is found in tropical moist forests. In mountainous areas, it is observed at altitudes up to 1800 m above sea level, settling in pine forests and oak groves. The spider prefers areas where it is possible to dig underground shelters under stones or in thickets of dense shrub vegetation. It is attracted by regions where the ambient temperature is around 25 ° C during the day, drops to 20 ° -22 ° C at night, and the air humidity is 60-70%.
Mexican Redleg Tarantula Behavior and Temperament
Mexican Redleg Tarantula is solitary. During the day, he hides in his underground shelter, and in the evening at dusk, he starts hunting. The spider uses both abandoned burrows of other animals for its shelter and can dig them up on its own. Its depth reaches 80-100 cm. In case of danger, this spider prefers to flee. If the escape routes are cut off, the spider uses stinging hair to protect itself. They are uneven and grow on the belly. A frightened tarantula shakes off hairs with the help of its paws, trying to get into the aggressor. When in contact with the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose, or lungs, they cause a burning sensation and severe itching. Painful symptoms last for several hours. When in contact with the skin, stinging hairs, as a rule, do not cause too unpleasant sensations. The poison in them usually acts only on persons suffering from various forms of allergies.
The diet consists of food of animal origin. In captivity, you can feed spiders with flies, cockroaches, bloodworms, small frogs, crickets, mealworms, etc. Some of these animals can be bought at pet stores, where they are sold as feed. The described animals are quite passive, they show activity only in extreme necessity. Even being hungry, they can sit motionless in ambush for a long time, showing no activity, but only passively waiting for the victim. Low mobility ensures minimal energy consumption and minimizes food requirements. A well-fed spider may not be active at all for several months.
Males mature at the age of 18-24 months, and females at 3-4 years old, depending on the availability of food and climatic conditions. By the time of puberty, males pass 8-9 molts, and females 13-15. The mating season takes place during the rainy season. After the first showers, the male leaves his shelter and goes in search of the female. He finds her by the pheromones that she exudes.
Having found the female’s nest, the male begins courtship. To attract her attention and avoid aggressive behavior on her part, he begins to beat out drum rolls near the entrance to the hole with the help of the third pair of legs. Sometimes the first and second pairs are added to them. The female captures seismic signals with sensitive auditory hairs. Their rhythm stimulates her to copulate.
After successful fertilization, after 25-45 days, she weaves a cocoon in her hole and lays from 100 to 600 eggs in it. Incubation lasts about 2 months under the watchful supervision of the female. Nymphs with a body length of about 5 mm are born. After 2 weeks, they emerge from the cocoon. After about the same period, they part with their mother and begin their independent existence. The length of spiders at this stage of development reaches 10 mm. Thereafter, they molt every 2-3 weeks. Each time, the time interval between molts increases. Young tarantulas first feed on small insects and then move on to larger animals.
At home, an amateur is unlikely to do this breeding. The process is quite complicated, and if it works out, then it is impossible to keep spiders together, they will destroy each other. It is also impossible to raise young spiders together when they have already begun to feed on their own because of cannibalism. When mating, there can also be problems, partners may well attack each other. So if you want a tarantula spider to live in your home, it’s easier to buy one. The spider lays eggs in a cocoon. At the same time, she may well eat it if she is hungry or if she is disturbed if there are a sub-optimal temperature and humidity, or the masonry will rot.
One of the unusual, from a human point of view, processes in the life of a spider is molting. In order to grow, the tarantula spider must get rid of the old hard outer cover. In this case, the size of the animal can increase by one and a half times. Since the rate of growth and development of a spider is highly dependent on temperature and the availability of food, the age of a spider is often determined not in years, but in molts.
Young spiders can molt once a month, and older ones once a year. During molting, the spider usually lies on its back. The main sign of preparation for molt is the darkening of the spider’s color. Also, before molting, the number of hairs on the body is minimal, they were used for protection, after molting their number is restored. Sometimes, during molting, the animal cannot pull out the limbs from the old integuments and they come off, their recovery occurs slowly, in the next 3 – 4 molts. Typically, such problems arise when the conditions of detention are not good enough.
Housing the Mexican Redleg Tarantula
For one adult, a terrarium or insectarium with a minimum volume of 30x30x30 cm is required. For the pet to feel comfortable, the substrate used must be as soft and easy to dig as possible. You can use peat, vermiculite, garden soil, or coconut chips. You cannot take land that has been fertilized with mineral fertilizers. This can lead to poisoning of the tarantula. The thickness of the substrate layer is 10-15 cm. In the terrarium, it is advisable to use a variety of shelters and plants in order to simulate the natural habitat of the Brachipelma Emilia.
The lighting should be turned on for 8-10 hours a day to achieve a constant temperature. It is recommended to keep it at 24 ° -31 ° C during the daytime and lower it to 18 ° -20 ° C at night. Humidity is maintained within 60-75%. To maintain it, it is necessary to have a drinking bowl with drinking water and periodic wetting of the substrate with a syringe.
Adult spiders are fed once a week, and young spiders every other day. The Mexican Redleg Tarantula in captivity eats any insects well. Once a month, they can be given to newborn mice or day-old chicks. It is impossible to overfeed them in order to avoid metabolic disorders.
- After contact with a pet, you should wash your hands well with soap and water.
- Leaning over the open terrarium is strictly prohibited.
- All actions in the predator’s home must be performed using special long tweezers.
- Objects that the animal has come into contact with are allowed to be touched only with gloves.
- Do not leave the terrarium open unattended. It is very important that he is out of the reach of other pets.
- When in contact with spiders, remember that they cannot be tamed or trained. Even the calmest and sedentary tarantula, sensing danger, can bite the owner.