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Brachypelma hamorii / smithi (Mexican Red Knee) Care sheet

Brachypelma hamorii is the “Hobby Classic Tarantula”  also known as the Mexican Red Knee  (and formerly B. smithi) this tarantula is coveted by beginners and experienced keepers alike. Known for being large, colorful and docile yet skittish. This scrub-land/desert tarantula is extremely hardy. A long-lived species the females are known to live longer than 30 years.

Origin: New World. Native to the deserts and scrublands of Eastern Mexico

Difficulty: Beginner

Type: Terrestrial

Adult Size: 5-6”

Growth speed: Slow

Longevity: Males 6-14 years, females 20-40 years

Temperament: Docile yet skittish. If agitated B. smithi may flee and/or flick urticating hairs.

Bite potency:  Mild

Urticating hairs: Yes

Ideal Temperature:  70 to 74°

Humidity: Low to Medium

Fun Fact: B. smithi was used in the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom.

Enclosure: Good ventilation is a must and safety should be a top priority when choosing and designing your tarantulas enclosure. The enclosure should not be too tall as to give the spider an opportunity to fall and injure itself. For spiderlings under about 1 1/4" we recommend the Terrestrial Spiderling Enclosure Kit. For specimens over 1" to about 2" we recommend the Terrestrial Juvenile Enclosure Kit. Specimens over 2" and under about 4.5 or 5" can go into a 7x7x11" complete terrestrial enclosure although because B. hamorri can reach 5-6" in length we recommend the 8x8x14" Adult Complete Terrestrial as a permeant enclosure for 2-2.5" and over specimens. Click HERE to find out how to you measure a tarantula.

Substrate: While most B. hamorii adults will adopt a hide, slings often prefer to burrow. Cocofiber, vermiculite, peat moss and/or potting soil (or a mix) are all excellent substrate choices. Please make sure the substrate you choose is organic and chemical/fertilizer free. Do not use sand, pebbles, rocks or wood chips or anything else that could potentially cut or injure the tarantula.

In many cases a larger Red Knee would rather adopt an existing hide than create it's own. Cork tubes half buried in substrate are what we use for our adult females. The B. smithi will excavate one side of the cork tube to it's liking. I like to think this makes the tarantula feel “at home” while minimizing the time and effort for the spider to settle in.

Spiderlings will often desire to create their own home by excavating a burrow. A tarantula with this talent and preference for tunneling is referred to as an obligate burrower. To encourage this natural behavior we recommend semi-moist substrate at least twice, and ideally three times as deep as the tarantulas DLS. Both the  Terrestrial Spiderling and Terrestrial Juvenile Enclosure Kit can be set up to encourage burrowing.

Water: Larger spiders 2” and over should be provided with a shallow water dish in order to drink. The water bowl should be rinsed our every time it is refilled. Being a desert scrubland species B. smithi will not require frequent misting however, I recommend keeping one corner of B. smithi enclosure lightly misted.

Feeding: Adults will eat every 6-14 days depending on the size of the spider and it's prey. Spiderlings should eat more often, every 5-10 days. Adults may be fed crickets, mealworms or roaches. Spiderlings under .75” can only eat food small enough for it to overpower. This includes pinhead crickets, flightless fruit flies & freshly hatched "pinhead" rusty red roaches. It is not advised to feed your tarantula wild-caught food. It could contain parasites or pesticides that could be fatal to your pet. Keep your tarantulas enclosure clean. food waste left in the enclosure will invite mold, mildew, mites, flies and other pests. It is advised to remove uneaten prey items after 3-12 hours. If using a feeder who will not “bother” a tarantula such as dubia roaches it is alright to leave them in the enclosure as long as they are not causing stress to the specimen. A more detailed feeding, misting & troubleshooting guide can be found here: https://jamiestarantulas.com/guides/

Coloring & Sexual Dimorphism: Spiderlings are slow to obtain their adult colors, but in my opinion experiencing the transformation is part of the fun of raising a tarantula. It will take a while, typically a few years, but around 3/4-1 1/2" leg-span spiderlings will typically start showing the first signs of adult coloring. After 1 1/2-2" or so the specimens adult coloring is usually more prominent. Keep in mind these are estimates and it does vary from specimens to specimen. What a joy it is to witness the transformation of an unassuming brown spiderling into a large, colorful tarantula!

Male and females of this species are typically identical in appearance until maturity. Females will become more stocky with age while males are lankier in overall appearance. Mature males will have tibial hooks and often have slightly more striking contrast and color. Check out our How to Determine Gender Page. At the bottom there is a photo of a mature male and mature female B. hamorii together.

 

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