Cute spidey_ani.gif


Adult Mexican Red Knee specimen
Mexican Red Knee adult

Pippin on arrival
7 cm diameter container
Pippin on arrival

Pippin after 4 moults
12x9x8 cm container
Pippin after 4 moults

Pippin handling on 5/7/04
Pippin handling on 5/7/04

Pippin after 7 moults 9/7/05
Pippin after 7 moults

The cricket's over there! 6/8/05
Pippin water dish 1

Cricket 1 Water dish 0 6/8/05
Pippin water dish 2

Pet Name

Scientific Name

Common Name



Date of arrival

Size on arrival

Latest moult

Latest moult size

Adult Size

Setup Required




Brachypelma smithi

Mexican Red Knee

75 - 80 F

65 - 70 %


1.5 cm


12 cm

12-15 cm (5-6 ")




Pippin is so named because he was slightly smaller and less feisty when he arrived than my B. auratum which I called Merry.  The Red Knee and Flame Knee make a good double act.  These spiders are the archetypal tarantula and the most likely to appear in TV shows and films as they look great and are easy to handle.  They are very popular as pets because of their beautiful markings and their general docility which makes them ideal for beginner keepers like me.  They have urticating hairs and have been known to use them if upset enough so I will be careful not to get on his wrong side.  They reach average size and are long lived so I am hoping Pippin remains part of the fellowship for many years.  Red Knees are burrowers but will adopt a provided shelter to get some privacy.  Spiderlings can drink moisture straight from the substrate which should be wetted regularly but when they are larger a jar lid or flower pot base can be used as a water dish.

Along with Merry he used to dive in his house at the first sign of trouble but he doesn't do this very often now and is seemingly happy outside most of the time. Pippin is gaining size extremely well as he started out as the smallest but has grown the most out of all of them.  I will take further piccies of him as he grows and develops, which should take quite a few years as they are quite slow growing.


14/11/03.  Pippin arrived by post in a 35mm film container padded with cotton wool inside a cardboard box stuffed with newspaper.  This box also contained Merry & Frodo in their own containers.  He was very small on arrival, measuring a mere 1.5 cm.  Once installed he was calm but shy and soon disappeared under the substrate.

01/12/03.  Moulted to 1.8 cm.  Noticeably less shy.

01/01/04.  Moulted to 2.8 cm.  Light & dark banding visible on legs.

17/02/04.  Moulted to 3.8 cm.  Orange hairs visible on abdomen.

05/04/04.  Moulted to 5 cm.  Orange banding visible on legs.

25/04/04.  Along with the others Pippin moved into a bigger enclosure and now has the 35 mm film container he arrived in as his hidey hole and the lid as a water dish.

22/06/04.  Moulted to 6.4 cm.  Orange/red 'Red knees' clearly defined.  Noticeably longer orange hairs on abdomen. 

05/07/04.  Nudged gently he came out of his pot for a stroll round my left hand.  Got as far as my forearm (where I got the picture above) then I had him go on my right hand then onto the floor.  I think he liked the sunny spot in my lounge as he stayed put there for quite a while so I got a ruler out and measured him up.  No sign of panic or annoyance shown - what a professional.

08/02/05.  Moulted to 7.5 cm.

02/07/05.  Moulted to 8.5 cm.

09/07/05.  Nudged out of his pot for a photo and measuring session.  Happy to walk over my hands and the settee.  Calm & no problems.

06/08/05.  Feeding frenzy shocker!  In the scuffle to catch a cricket Pippin missed and attacked the water dish instead.  He had his fangs in it and wouldn't let go for ages, even with me prodding him, until he finally realised his mistake and gave up.  The cricket had escaped into Pippin's house and must have thought it had got away with it but it met it's grisly end later that evening when Pippin finally went indoors.  Very amusing!  :)

04/02/06.  Moulted to 9.8 cm.

06/09/06.  Moulted to 11 cm.

10/09/06.  As Frodo had matured into a male I attempted to determine the sex of the others using their last moult skins. No sign of 'leaf' structures were seen so I am  pretty sure Pippin is an immature male.

04/04/07.  Moulted to 12 cm.

23/05/07.  I put his tank on the floor with the lid open to see if he wanted to come out.  After a couple of looks he came out for a wander across the floor, over the settee and up the curtains. He was fine but panicked when I attempted to steer him on the floor and ran off. He was getting a bit high on the curtains so I tried to get him into his tank but he panicked again and was running around my hands so fast it was hard to keep up with him.  He seemed relieved once he was back home!

14/08/07.  I left the tank open on the lounge floor after Merrie's walkies. Pippin came out straight away, went across the floor and tried hard to squeeze under the printer dust cover. He finally gave up and went up the wall and did a circuit of the room just below the ceiling, just like Merrie but more slowly and in the opposite direction. He would have kept going but I interrupted his walk and got a flurry of hair kicked off at me in the process.  However I returned him to ground level where he walked calmly all over my hands and arms for a while. Returned safely to his tank so I could have my dinner.

22/04/08.  Moulted.

26/06/08. Whilst on holiday I entrusted the care of the Hobbits to my mate Dave who has kindly performed this duty several times.  When he went to change the water, Pippin was hovering over it so needed to be moved.  Not wanting to risk his fingers Dave used a bit of card to encourage Pippin to move along and was met with firm resistance.  Pippin fought to stay where he was and Dave reported that the piece of card was energetically pummeled as he gently but firmly pushed Pippin back, accompanied by generous hair flicking.  Having fended off the aggrieved arachnid Dave changed the water and replaced the lid as quickly as possible.  Pippin may look cute and fluffy but he's definitely got a mean streak and certainly doesn't worry about going bald! ;)

05/08/10. Pippin had a fall and broke his left back leg. It was totally my fault so am very angry with myself for it {:(  He had been out walkies in the room while I was on the internet and had got onto a wide shelf about 4 ft up and then not moved for ages. I thought it was OK to leave him there while I went and made a quick brew - WRONG! Unfortunately he decided to take the quick way down while I was out of the room. He looked OK initially but it soon became apparent his back leg wasn't moving as it should and a bit of hemolymph (blood) was seeping from the 3rd joint. It didn't look too bad so I left it to heal on it's own but by next day his movements had damaged it further and it was still seeping. I couldn't get a little bit of tissue to stick to it due to the hairs so I went for the cornstarch approach which worked well enough but not until after I had spread it all over him and all over the room chasing him around :O