Mexican rustleg tarantula (Brachypelma boehmei)

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Mexican rustleg tarantula
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Mexican rustleg tarantula fact file

Mexican rustleg tarantula description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassArachnida
OrderAraneae
FamilyTheraphosidae
GenusBrachypelma (1)

Only described in 1993 (2), this stunning spider from southwest Mexico resembles its better known relative, Brachypelma smithi (Mexican redknee tarantula) in its dramatic orange and black colouration (3). The black femora (upper legs) provide a dark dividing band between the rich orange colour of the carapace and lower legs. Unlike the orange joints of Brachypelma smithi, the beautifully coloured legs of this species are a bright, ‘fiery’ red on the patellae (knees), fading gradually to a paler orange further down and tipped by black tarsi (feet) (4). Although not particularly defensive, a nervous temperament means this spider does not hesitate to flick urticating hairs at the slightest irritation (5).

Also known as
Guerrero orange legs tarantula, Mexican fireleg tarantula.
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Mexican rustleg tarantula biology

Tarantulas of this genus are long-lived, with males reaching maturity at seven to eight years, females at nine to ten. While males only live up to a year after their final moult, females may live for a further ten years. Sub-adults and adults moult at the end of the dry season (November to June), after which males begin their search for mating females. The egg-sac is laid after the female moults, and hatches three to four weeks before the rainy season begins (4). Mexican rustleg tarantulas tend to be active after dark, but can also be active during daylight, particularly in the morning and evening (2).

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Mexican rustleg tarantula range

Native to Mexico, where it is found along the central Pacific coast from Michoacan State to western Guerrero State (6).

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Mexican rustleg tarantula habitat

The Mexican rustleg tarantula prefers dry scrubland, and is found in burrows, either self-made or abandoned rodent or lizard burrows, usually under rocks or fallen logs (2).

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Mexican rustleg tarantula status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).

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Mexican rustleg tarantula threats

As with other Brachypelma species from the west coast of Mexico, this species makes a popular pet due to its docility and vivid colours, sadly leading to its over collection from the wild. The illegal pet trade, together with the ongoing destruction of natural habitat and its high mortality rate before sexual maturity, causes considerable concern for the future of this tarantula (4).

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Mexican rustleg tarantula conservation

To regulate its commercial trade across borders, this species has been listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In Mexico, permits are required to collect or remove any spider of the theraphosid family (6), and the Mexican rustleg tarantula is now frequently bred in captivity, reducing the need to collect it from the wild (4).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on the Mexican rustleg tarantula see:

  • Locht, A., Yáñez, M. and Vázquez, I. (1999) Distribution and natural history of Mexican species of Brachypelma and Brachypelmides (Theraphosidae, Theraphosinae) with morphological evidence to support their synonymy. The Journal of Arachnology, 27(1): 196-200.
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Authentication

Authenticated (25/03/08) by Rick West.
http://www.birdspiders.com

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Glossary

Carapace
In arachnids, the shield that covers the fused head and thorax (the part of the body located near the head) also known as ‘cephalothorax’.
Femur
Upper leg.
Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Patella
The knee segment of an arthropod leg.
Tarsus
The last segment of an arthropod leg.
Urticating hairs
A dense covering of barbed hairs, in addition to normal covering hairs, that are found on the top of the abdomen of most New World tarantulas. These hairs are believed to be used as a defense against mammalian and avian predators.
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References

  1. CITES (November, 2005)
    http://www.cites.org
  2. West, R. (2008) Pers. comm.
  3. Latrodectus.net (November, 2005)
    http://home.arcor.de/schwaara-mail/boehmei.htm
  4. Locht, A., Yáñez, M. and Vázquez, I. (1999) Distribution and natural history of Mexican species of Brachypelma and Brachypelmides (Theraphosidae, Theraphosinae) with morphological evidence to support their synonymy. The Journal of Arachnology, 27(1): 196 - 200.
  5. Tarantulas.com (November, 2005)
    http://www.tarantulas.com/fireleg.asp
  6. West, R. (2005) The Brachypelma of Mexico. Journal of the British Tarantula Society, 20(4): 108 - 119.
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Image credit

Mexican rustleg tarantula  
Mexican rustleg tarantula

© Ivan A Teage

Ivan Teage

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