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            Mexican red-kneed tarantula

            Brachypelma smithi

            Mexican red-kneed tarantulas are one of the world's 900 species of tarantulas. They live in deserts in southwest Mexico and are carnivores.

            Did you know?

            • Tarantulas' name derives from the southern Italian town of Taranto. In the Middle Ages near Taranto, it was believed that this spider's bite would cause tarantism, a disorder that caused excitability; the only cure was to dance a frenzied dance called the tarantella.
            • All spiders have venom. Tarantula venom is equivalent to a bee sting; the venom will not kill a person, unless they have an allergic reaction to it.

            Tarantula behavior and facts

            • Tarantulas prey on insects and small animals. They carve burrows into the soil from which they ambush passing prey.
            • From their abdomen and back legs, Mexican red-kneed tarantulas can knock off urticating hairs that sting a potential predator. They also rear up on their back legs as a defense mechanism.
            • Tarantulas must molt (shed their skin) in order to grow. They can also regrow a lost leg during a molt. Fangs are shed with the skin.

            From birth to death

            • Lifespan: males 7 to 8 years; females 20 to 25 years

            Vital statistics

            • Body length: up to 2.5 inches
            • Leg span: up to 4 inches


            Not listed

            Tarantulas, the Oregon Zoo and you

            Tarantulas live in the Insect Zoo, where they enjoy a diet of crickets.