Animal Encounters

Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!


Mexican Red-knee Tarantula

Euathlus smithi

  Classroom, Outreach and Encounter Animal

Mexican red-knee tarantula

Tarantulas are very delicate creatures. They do not have bones or any internal skeleton. Instead they have an exoskeleton that must be shed (molted) on a regular basis. When molting occurs, the tarantula splits the old skeleton, often lays on its back and slowly pulls its entire body out, including all the sensory and defensive hairs. This takes several hours and puts the tarantula in a very vulnerable state.

International trade was restricted when Mexican red-knee tarantulas were listed under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild flora and fauna) Appendix II in 1985. IUCN lists red-knee tarantulas as Lower Risk/Near Threatened. 

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About This Animal

SIZE: 2.5" body with a 5" leg span

RANGE: Pacific coast of Mexico

HABITAT: Burrows in the rocky areas under thorny bushes in deserts, scrublands or dry to tropical deciduous forests

DIET: Primarily insects and other invertebrates but will eat young mice and other foods occasionally