Brachypelma vagans (Red-rump Tarantula)
Brachypelma vagans (Red Rump tarantula) is more commonly known as the Mexican Red Rump Tarantula. Their name is derived from the reddish coloring on the back of the abdomen and legs (Edwards and Hibbard 1999). Tarantulas are often thought to have a poisonous bite; however, B. vagans defends itself through bristle-like hairs found on their abdomen and legs which when touched can be extremely painful (Edwards and Hibbard 1999). B. vagans is generally found around the region of Central America, specifically Mexico and Costa Rica. (Locht et al. 1999). This type of tarantula species is frequently seen as a household pet, and have come close to endangerment due to the pet trade (Locht et al. 1999).
Their body size can range from 5 to 7 cm, with the females being generally larger than the males (Moore 1994). They feed on smaller vertebrates and arthropods. These are burrowing animals, which spend most of the day in burrowed holes underground, and being nocturnal, they come out to hunt at night (Machkour et al. 2005). They are said to live up to 25 years in the wild, and even longer when kept domestically (Edwards and Hibbard 1999).
Females do not reach sexual maturity until they are 9 years old in the wild, but once sexually mature, they typically lay anywhere up to 300 eggs at one time, and the newborn spiders remain close to their mother for multiple weeks after the eggs have hatched (Machkour et al. 2005). These spiders typically stay in colonies of sorts (Moore 1994).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Brachypelma vagans
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Brachypelma vagans is a species of tarantula known commonly as the Mexican red rump or Mexican black velvet. It ranges predominantly in Mexico, but can be found as far south as Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They are terrestrial, burrowing spiders. The reason for the name red rump is because of its distinctive red hairs on its abdomen. Like most tarantulas, they will eat anything they can overpower, which is usually insects, but small lizards and rodents may also be consumed. They can grow to a 5 inch leg span, with males typically being smaller and thinner than the females. They prefer scrubland habitats.
In 1996, Brachypelma vagans was discovered in the wild in St. Lucie County, Florida. It is now considered an established non-native species in that state, where it is thought to have been introduced through either accidental or intentional releases of specimens imported via the pet trade, although their numbers have been dwindling due to many B. vagans eating insects poisoned by pesticides.
B. vagans is frequently kept and bred in captivity. They feed readily on commercially available crickets, cockroaches and other insects of suitable size. They are typically docile, though they can be skittish and prone to releasing urticating hairs. Females are long-lived, potentially reaching 15 years of age.
In popular culture
In Traditional Mayan Medicine
The Ch'ol Maya consider these spiders to be positive; and use them medicinally. A hierbatero kills it, then crushes it, mixes it with spirit alcohol and strains out any irritating hairs with a traditional cloth. The beverage is used for the treatment of "tarantula wind" the symptoms being chest pain coughing and asthma. The venom peptide GsMtx-4 is being investigated for the possible treatment of cardiac arrhythmia, muscular dystrophy and glioma.
A juvenile B.vagans feeding on a mealworm
- Salima Machkour-M'Rabet, Yann Hénaut, Peter Winterton and Roberto Rojo (2011). "A case of zootherapy with the tarantula Brachypelma vagans Ausserer, 1875 in traditional medicine of the Chol Mayan ethnic group in Mexico". Journal of ethnobiology and ethno medicine.
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