Common Name: Mexican Red Rump Tarantula
Scientific Name: Brachypelma vagans
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Theraphesidae
Genus: Brachypelma
Species: B. vagans
The Mexican Red Rump tarantula, also known as the Mexican Black Velvet tarantula, is a native to Mexico. They are smaller than average Mexican tarantulas but are very, very fast. These tarantulas are also known to be very skittish. They are shy creatures. Tarantulas spend most of their lives hiding. The name came about because they have red hairs on the stomach. Surprisingly, the Mexican Red Rump tarantula was discovered in Florida in 1996. It might have been accidental or it could have been intentional by imported pet trade. One reason they could have been in Florida is because the soil is very similar to Mexico’s soil where they live. So, you never know. They usually do well in areas with more humidity. The habitat of the Red Rump tarantula varies greatly. They do well in the soft earth of a tropical forest and also in scrubland, which is a plant community. They can adapt to different environmental conditions. They also have the widest range of all Brachypelma.
Their population is not quite known, but scientists don’t understand why there are not more. The Mexican Red Rump tarantula will usually eat anything it can overpower. Their main diet consists of crickets, cockroaches and smaller insects. Tarantulas don’t trap their prey with webs. Instead, tarantulas have long fangs and they use them to kill their prey. Their fangs have poisonous venom that is deadly to their prey, however, most venom is not deadly to humans.
Their only competition for food is other spiders that prey on small insects. Tarantulas also serve as food for other predators such as owls, hawks, coyotes, weasels, snakes and lizards. They do have a defense mechanism. They, along with some other tarantulas, use urticating hairs. This system uses little barbed hairs as needles. The tarantula kicks them of their abdomen and they embed themselves into the skin and eyes of their attackers. This sting from the hairs will send their attackers away.
One interesting thing that the Red Rump tarantula does is burrowing. They dig holes in the ground to live in. The holes are called burrows. They line their burrows with silk. They do not make their holes very big. They usually dig small, tight burrows. As the tarantula grows, it makes its burrow larger. Sometimes they will leave its burrow when it becomes too small and move to another spot to dig a new one. I was surprised to find out how many people actually have Mexican Red Rump tarantulas as pets. They are easy to care for and are not poisonous to humans which make them a desirable pet for some.
Author: Brandon M.
Published: 02/2008
Sources: “Tarantulas” by Conrad J. Storad 1998
Photo Credit: John Bokman