Mexican Flame Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma auratum) Care Sheet

At first glance the Mexican Flame Knee tarantula (Brachypelma auratum) closely resembles the far better-known Mexican Red Knee (Brachypelma hamorii/smithi). Look a little closer, however, and subtle differences start to become clear…

Whilst both species have vivid orange or red stripes on their “knees” it is the background color that effectively separates these two species. In Brachypelma auratum these stripes are presented on a black background, making them stand out all the more. This is in contrast to the Mexican Red Knee whose stripes are found on an orange or yellow background.

In addition to this subtle difference, Brachypelma auratum is generally much darker in appearance, and has far fewer of the bright orange hairs found on the abdomen of its close cousin.

To some people, the Mexican Flame Knee is even more attractive than its rather more showy and popular relative. Whatever the case, this species meets all the standard benefits that have made Brachypelma tarantulas such popular pets; bright colors, docile disposition, ease of care and a moderate adult size.

If you’re a diehard Brachypelma tarantula fan (as I am) but you’re looking for something just that little bit different then Brachypelma auratum may just be the perfect next spider for your collection. If you’re considering adding this species to your collection then read on for my detailed Mexican Flame Knee care sheet.

Brachypelma auratum Wild Habitat

At one time Brachypelma auratum was considered a subspecies of Brachypelma smithi, but we now know it is a separate species in its own right. The Mexican Flame Knee is a relatively recent addition to science, having only been described in 1992 by Schmidt.

In the wild, this endangered species is found in savannah and scrubland regions of Mexico. More specifically scientists believe it is endemic to the Guerrero and Michoacán regions. Tarantula expert Rick West states that it ranges from “central eastern Jalisco south through north eastern Colima and into central western Michoacan state”.

Like other Brachypelma species it seems that the Mexican Flame Knee tarantula is a ground-dwelling tarantula and typically seeks refuge from predators and extreme weather.

While this tarantula species has been less extensively studied than many other species, it is worth noting that it has been found living communally with a small frog known as Eleutherodactylus occidentalis. While this is far from unique, with other species such as Poecilotheria ornata found living with other species, it is notable as it further expands this concept of tarantulas living passively alongside other potential prey species.

The climate in Michoacan state is described as “tropical savannah” with temperatures varying between 16’C and 29’C though daytime temperatures are normally in the mid twenties. They have, however, been recorded at over 40’C which indicates just how sturdy this species of tarantula really is. Generally speaking the Mexican Flame Knee can be kept like the Mexican Red Knee, whose territories can often overlap.

Mexican Flame Knee Housing

Brachypelma auratum is not a difficult tarantula to keep in captivity and is quite forgiving in terms of its care. It is an average-sized tarantula reaching a legspan of around 5” on average, though some older females may get closer to 6”. This means that unlike some huge species like the Goliath Birdeater or the Salmon Pink more modest accommodation will work perfectly well.

I recommend a cage of no less than 10” x 8” for adults, with juveniles of course doing fine in comparatively smaller containers. Of course, there is nothing wrong with placing this species into larger cages; indeed as this tarantula seems to be quite happy to sit out in the open for long periods of time it can make a very attractive display animal.

Whenever possible I like to use cages of around 30cm long by some 20-30cm deep which can be well landscaped and offer the opportunity to behave in a more “natural” manner.

My favorite cages for all adult tarantulas including the Mexican Flame Knee are Exo Terras or ReptiZoo terrariums. These attractive glass vivariums offer a huge number of benefits. Firstly they have front opening doors that lock shut when not in use. This therefore offers both excellent security but also practicality when it comes to feeding and cleaning.

REPTIZOO Glass Mini 8 Gallon Reptile Terrarium 12" x 12" x 12", Small Habitat Cage Breeder Enclosure for Leopard Gecko Tarantula Young Lizard Insects, Top Screen Ventilation & Feeding
  • Features with full view glass, this small 8 gallon glass terrarium is convenient for feeding and having fun with your reptile or small animal pets.
  • Compact and flat-packed design mini reptile tank with top opening to prevent escape and easy feeding. With a transparent PVC tray in the bottom for holding water and substrate
  • The full screen top ventilation with thinner mesh wire allows more UVA UVB and infrared heat penetration.

Exo Terras are also excellent because they have a gauze lid which allows moisture to evaporate away. Overly damp and stagnant conditions should be avoided for all tarantulas, but especially for the Brachypelma genus, many of which like the Mexican Flame Knee come from drier savannah habitats.