Alphonopelma Seemanni is also referred to as the zebra knee tarantula, a name tied to its physical appearance. This tarantula is black-bodied with small reddish hairs on the edges and white stripes on its legs.
Interestingly, the females can live for almost twenty years while the males only manage to go for seven years. Also, the females are taller than their male counterparts.
As spiderlings, they prefer burrowing and rarely come to the open to feed. Nevertheless, the zebra knee tarantula is fascinating and has an appealing look. Read on to learn how to care for this species without endangering them.
What are Aphonopelma seemanni (zebra knee tarantula)?
The zebra knee tarantula is an arachnid under the New World species from Costa Rica. In some quotas, it’s referred to as the White Stripes Tarantula. It’s accustomed to humid areas and is mostly found in warmer Central American areas such as Honduras.
Physically, the female Seemanni is taller and can reach 6 inches in leg span, while the males are shorter and reach 4 inches. This makes it a fast runner, which helps it retreat fast in imminent danger.
When in the wild, zebra knee tarantulas feed on insects such as cockroaches, butterflies, and grasshoppers. However, if you intend to keep them as a hobby, you’ll need to feed them on crickets, worms, locusts, and other insects in that family.
In their defense, the zebra knee tarantulas have urticating hairs that they release to the predator. The hairs serve as a distraction to the attacker since they are irritating to the human skin allowing the tarantula time to escape. However, it’s a rare occurrence with this tarantula.
Zebra knee tarantula care guide
The zebra knee tarantula is a good-looking friendly tarantula that some consider docile. Since it has a mild bite potency and is terrestrial, it is the perfect choice for a beginner.
Below is a guide on how to successfully care for the aphonopelma seemanni:
You could buy the already fabricated terrarium meant for such tarantulas or have a ten-gallon aquarium that will fit well.
Consider fitting climbing supports for the tarantula, such as fake plants. Add a log and a spider house on one end to allow it space to hide if need be. Alternatively, you could dissect a flower pot and place one half as the spider’s house.
To have the ideal habitat for the striped knee tarantula, you need to evaluate all aspects that ensure the environment is friendly. Some of the aspects you ought to have in check include:
- Tank size
Avoid having too much light within the tarantula’s tank. Instead, place the tank where there isn’t a lot of direct light.
While these tarantulas may not be accustomed to too much light, most insects they feed on are light-friendly. You, therefore, need to strike a balance in your lighting, where you have some dark corners and balance off the light.
Ensure the tank is big enough, given that the female zebra knee tarantula is tall and requires enough space. Ideally, let the tank be three times the leg span of the tarantula, and the height shouldn’t be less than a foot.
These tarantulas are heavy burrowers, so you need a thick substrate measuring 3 to 4 inches.
Consider having a substrate of pure soil that is not chemical-saturated and peat moss or coconut fiber.
The ideal zebra knee habitat must have temperatures within 70 to 85⁰F. Therefore, you need to measure the temperatures regularly and if they fall way below this range, consider supplementing.
To supplement the room temperatures, have an underneath heating lamp on one end of the tank. This will allow the tarantula to shift from one edge to another where the temperatures are favorable.
In a zebra knee tarantula habitat, the ideal humidity range should be between 65-80%. To balance the humidity levels within the tank, place a water dish on one edge.
Monitor the levels, and if you notice they are way below, you could mist the tank for a while till the levels adjust accordingly.
Cleanliness is key when handling a zebra knee tarantula. Here are ways you can maintain high levels of hygiene within the habitat:
- Change the substrate within 4 or 6 months.
- Clean the water dish and replenish it daily.
- Get rid of the feed remnants to avoid infestation by other unwanted parasites and rodents.
- After molting, get rid of the exoskeleton.
- Carry out a thorough cleaning of the habitat every 6 months. Transfer the tarantula to a different container and thoroughly wash the habitat with bleach. Air and add new substrate before moving the tarantula.
- Change or clean the climbing support every 6 months.
What you feed the tarantula is determined by their stage in life. For instance, spiderlings measuring half an inch can have fruit flies or young crickets as they are ideal for them.
As they age to become young adults, these tarantulas can feast on medium crickets for around two weeks. At this stage, however, they burrow a lot and will come out a few times when the hunger pangs are acute. The hunger strike at this stage is attributed to molting.
Once they are fully grown, you can feed them on five mature crickets for three weeks. Avoid forcing them to feed at this stage. Give them time as they are often hiding.
Provide the tarantulas with water in a shallow dish and change the water daily to maintain hygiene.
Behavior and handling
The zebra knee tarantula is considered skittish as it will get easily scared. Mostly, it will retreat after sensing danger. Alternatively, when the threat is imminent, the tarantula will release the urticating hairs that contain a venom which causes a rash on the attacker.
When handling the Aphonopelma seemanni, you need to exercise care and hold them close to the ground. If they fall from a high level, they may easily get injured.
The striped knee tarantulas are heavy breeders with the potential to lay between 50 and 2,000 eggs in a single web.
The male works his way to the female for the mating rituals. The act is life-threatening for the male as the female can attack and kill the male after copulation. Therefore, the male holds the female legs in position during the act to protect itself.
Once the fertilization exercise is successful, the female will protect and monitor the eggs for 6-8 weeks when they hatch.
Interestingly the female striped knee tarantulas live longer than their male counterparts as they can get to 20 years while the males get 7 years.
The males reach maturity in 3 years while the females mature at 6.
Are black tarantulas dangerous?
When provoked, these tarantulas act defensively. First, they may opt to dart and hide, but when the threat is imminent, they can bite. The venom from their bites is mild, and the pain may fade without intervention.
However, some people can suffer from anaphylaxis after the bite. They may feel confused, faint, breathe heavily, or have an increased heartbeat.
The tarantula can also release its urticating hairs, which irritate the human skin due to the histamine from the hairs.
Extensively the black tarantulas are considered docile and will only react under extreme provocation.
Striped knee tarantulas might look dangerous in movies and folklore but they are gentle and interesting pets you can always count on when it comes to spicing up your home. From the guidelines above, they’re not difficult to keep as they have few requirements.