How to Care for a Mexican Redknee Tarantula

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Mexican Redknee tarantulas are some of the most beautiful and popular spiders in the hobby. With their black velvet bodies and bright orange banded legs, they are easily recognizable to anyone who is interested in tarantulas. With proper housing, feeding, and care they can live up to 20 or 30 years (at least the females can) as a treasured part of your family.

Things You'll Need

  • Enclosure: 10 or 20 gallon glass or plastic tank Water dish Substrate Misting bottle
  • Provide proper housing. Tarantula's are not picky about their environment as long as it contains the necessities, so it can be constructed as simply or elaborately as you wish. Size is one of the most important things to consider when choosing an enclosure. It should only have enough room for one spider, as most tarantulas can be cannibalistic. While a cage that is too large will make the spider feel insecure and skittish, one that is too small can also cause mental and physical problems. A good rule to keep in mind when choosing an enclosure for your Mexican Redknee is to make sure the cage is twice as wide as the spider is long. It must also have a secure lid that will allow airflow but will also hold in moisture and humidity. Plastic "critter keepers" and tubs work well for tarantulas. Substrates that also work well for these spiders include peat moss, vermiculite, and potting soil. Never use cedar bedding as it is toxic. Mexican Redknee tarantulas will burrow if given the right substrate and if you start the burrow for them, so potting soil works well but don't make it too deep. If the burrow collapses you don't want it to hurt your spider. Furnishings can be fake or real plants, hide boxes, logs and rocks, but only use heavy objects if they are sitting directly on the floor of the enclosure. You would not want the tarantula to dig a burrow underneath them and then have it collapse and crush them.

  • Provide the proper environment. Mexican Redknee tarantulas come from South America in a warm and moist environment. Humidity is very important to their well-being and needs to be maintained at 70 to 80%. Keep water in their enclosure at all times, and mist their substrate down at least once a day to keep it moist. While the top of the tank needs to provide proper airflow, you can set it up to hold in moisture as well by covering half of it with glass or acrylic. The temperature should stay in the mid-to-upper 70's during both the day and night. Heat lamps and pads do not work well with tarantulas, as they tend to make the area too warm which could cause health problems or even death. Extra light is also not necessary, as tarantulas are almost completely blind.

  • Provide protection from pests. Mites and flies can both become a problem in a tarantula enclosure. Most of the time they won't attack the spider directly, but instead get into the substrate, water dish, and onto any prey the tarantula hasn't eaten yet. Sometimes they can also cause health problems for your spider which you might have to remedy with trips to the veterinarian and expensive sprays and powders. To keep pest problems to a minimum, always keep the enclosure clean. Pick up uneaten prey once it becomes obvious your tarantula isn't going to eat it. Do not overmoisten your substrate until mold or mildew grow on it. Once a month let the cage dry out completely, which will kill off most of the mites it might have acquired as they are highly sensitive to being too dry.

  • Provide proper nutrition. Because they are almost completely blind, tarantulas do best with being fed live prey that they can sense by movement. Mexican Redknees should be given a diverse diet that includes crickets, waxworms, mealworms, and superworms. An adult spider can also be given pinky mice (the smallest baby rodents available) though should not be offered anything larger that could potentially harm them. Mexican Redknees have a higher metabolism than some other tarantulas, and so can be fed on a frequent basis, about every 2 to 3 days.

  • Provide proper molting conditions. A spider's molt is one of the most important phases of their lifecycle and so it is very important that you are aware of it when it happens and do not do anything to possibly disturb it. Keep the enclosure humid at all times, and especially when you notice pre-molting behavior, as this will help with the actual process. Tarantulas will stop eating just before a molt and also become much less active. If you see them spin an extra amount of silk, as a form of padding, do not clean it out of their cage or move it. Mexican Redknees will also use this as a platform to lay on when they roll onto their backs to molt. This can be a lengthy process for a large spider, taking several days or even a week to complete, while for spiderlings may be completed within a day.

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