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Home > Tarantula Care > Brachypelma Smithi

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

Arboreal/Terrestrial: Terrestrial

Communal: No

Difficulty: Beginner

Growth speed: Slow

Humidity: 45-75%

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

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

Size: 5-6”

Speed: Slow

Temperament: Calm and docile. If agitated B. smithi may flick urticating hairs

Temperature: 70 to 85 is ideal

Urticating hairs: Yes

Venom: mild

Enclosure: Enclosure: The enclosure should be longer than it is tall. A good rule of thumb is the length of the enclosure should be a minimum of three times the diagonal legspan of the tarantula. Good ventilation is a must, and safety should be a top priority when choosing and designing your tarantulas enclosure. Do not use a screen mesh lid as the tarantula may get its feet stuck. It is extremely dangerous when a tarantula traps a leg, and screen related injuries and deaths are too common. The enclosure should not be tall because B. smithi could fall and injure itself.

The enclosure should have 2-4” of substrate. Cocofiber, vermiculite, peat moss and potting soil (or a mix) are 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.

In most cases the B. smithi 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. boehmei will excavate one side of the cork tube to its liking. I like to think this makes the tarantula feel “at home” while minimizing the time and effort needed for the spider to settle in.

Larger spiders 2” and over should be provided a shallow water dish in order to drink. The water bowl should be rinsed our every time it is refilled. B.smithi will require mild misting. I recommend keeping one corner of the enclosure lightly misted.

Feeding: Adults will eat every 3-20 days depending on the size of the spider and its prey. Spiderlings should eat more often, every 2-10 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 advisable 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 24 hours. If using a feeder who will not “bother” a tarantula such as roaches it is alright to leave them in the enclosure.

Additional information: B. smithi was used in the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom.