Three tarantulas, two Honduran Curlyhair and one Mexican Red-kneed, recently moved into the Reptile House at the Sacramento Zoo. They are the only arachnids that live there. Both species tend to be docile, however they can flick hairs off their abdomen when annoyed, causing skin and eye irritation to the recipient of the ‘kick’. They are generally not known for biting even though their fangs are quite large.
Curlyhair Tarantulas are found in Central America, ranging from Honduras to Costa Rica and are listed as vulnerable. On average females live to 15 years and males live 3-5 years.
Red-kneed Tarantulas are found on the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre del Sur mountain ranges in Mexico. Females can live up to 30 years and males will live around 5 years. Red-kneed Tarantulas are listed as vulnerable due to habitat loss and over collection by the pet trade.
Tarantulas grow through the process of molting their exoskeleton. When they have grown so that their outer skeleton is too tight, they flip onto their back, appearing to be deceased, then their exoskeleton splits open and they exit from it. Directly after they molt, the spiders are very soft and fragile. While they look strong and tough, if a tarantula is dropped, they could die from the impact, as their exoskeleton will break when they land. They also get stressed very easily, flicking their hairs if they feel scared or annoyed—this can also lead to illness or death if this becomes a constant issue.
At the Zoo they are given crickets but can also eat kingworms, roaches, bugs and young mice.
On your next visit to the Zoo stop by the Reptile House and see if you can spot the newcomers!