Mexican Flame Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma auratum)

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Mexican Flame Knee Tarantula
Brachypelma auratum
Mexican Flame Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma auratum)
Name Mexican Flame Knee Tarantula
Name Lat. Brachypelma auratum
Family Tarantulas
Family lat. Theraphosidae
Order Spiders
Order lat. Araneae
Origin North America
Habitat Forest
Diet Live insects
Humidity 50-60 %
Behavior Nocturnal, semi-aggressive
Keeping Individual
Care Level Difficult
Housing Semi humid terrarium
Breeding Difficult
Life Span 5-10 years
Protection CITES Appendix II; EC Annex B
Metric Units
Size 8 cm
Temperature Day 20-24 °C
Temperature Night 18-20 °C
Housing Size 40 x 30 x 30 cm
US Units
Size 3.1"
Temperature Day 68-75 °F
Temperature Night 64-68 °F
Housing Size 15" x 10" x 10"

Distribution and habitat

The venomous red-legged bird spiders are primarily nocturnal ground dwellers, but they can climb and are occasionally found in bushes. They are native to the mountain forests of Guerrero and Michoacàn (Mexico). There they live up to 1,000 m altitude in their self-dug burrows.


For 1 animal a terrarium with a minimum size of 30 x 30 cm and a minimum height of 40 cm can be recommended as a guideline. The terrarium should be placed in a quiet place without sunlight.

You will need a terrarium structured with cork tubes, roots and stones (hiding places, privacy screen), a solid, 10-15 cm deep substrate of sand-clay-peat mixture, a small, shallow drinking vessel and for decoration artificial or potted plants (e.g. Ficus pumila, Scindapsus aureus). A small part of the substrate, especially the lower layers, should always be kept slightly moist. Once or twice a week the inside of the terrarium should be finely sprayed with water, but not the animals (danger of shock)

Temp. day: 20-24 °C Temp. night: 18-20 °C Humidity: 50-60

The lighting duration should be 8-12 hrs. depending on the season. A conventional light source (fluorescent tube, incandescent bulb) is sufficient. Special lamps with high UV content are not necessary.


The food supply should consist of crickets, cockroaches, house crickets, maggots and grasshoppers and other arachnids. Adult animals can also be offered nest young mice. The prey animal is injected with a digestive juice with the biting tools (chelicerae), which liquefies the protein components and the prey can be sucked out (extracorporeal digestion). Juveniles can be offered food 1-2 times per week, adults only every one to two weeks. Under no circumstances should they be overfed, the basic rule being that the abdomen should be no more than 1½ times the size of the cephalothorax. Unaccepted food must be removed after 1-2 days. Refusal of food may indicate a natural phase of starvation or an impending molt. No food animals should be in the terrarium during molting, they could injure the spider.

A varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Reproduction and breeding

The smaller males can be recognized by their bulbs folded in towards the body. The female lays up to 2,000 eggs in her burrow lined with webs 4-5 months after mating. The eggs are spun into a dense cocoon in which the larvae develop and are guarded by the female. After the third molt, the young leave the burrow.

Species protection

Make sure to inform yourself about any regulations on keeping or bans on keeping this animal in your state or home municipality (e.g. public order office).

Protection of species: WA appendix II; EU appendix B. The purchase receipt is the required proof of origin for the animal. Please keep it safe! Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.


Occasionally they are very sensitive to disturbances. In defense, they hurl irritant hairs with their hind legs against the attacker (bombard). These cause skin irritation and may cause corneal damage in the eyes as well as asthma-like symptoms. Care should also be taken when cleaning the terrarium, as irritant hairs can be stirred up from the substrate (safety goggles). A bite is very painful, the poison corresponds to that of a bee or wasp.

Crushed or held legs can be thrown off at a predetermined breaking point and regenerate completely after 1-2 molts.

Before purchasing, a terrarium should be prepared that meets the species specific needs. Good ventilation without drafts and equipment for measuring temperature and humidity are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and should be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Special attention must be paid to thorough hygiene and impurities must be removed regularly.

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: petdata; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: ENGELMANN & LANGE (2011): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Wirbellose, Harri Deutsch Verlag; HENKEL & SCHMIDT (2010): Taschenatlas Wirbellose für das Terrarium, Verlag Ulmer