Aphonopelma seemanni is a very attractive species of ground-dwelling tarantula. Its dark body with white and black striped knees have earned it the nickname the "striped knee," "zebra" or "zebra knee" tarantula among many hobbyists. The upkeep for this tarantula is not particularly demanding, so if you can appreciate the rare glimpse of its monochromatic style, a zebra knee might be the perfect addition to your collection. Read on to gain valuable knowledge from our Aphonopelma seemanni care guide.

Get to Know the Zebra Knee Tarantula

The zebra knee tarantula is naturally found in western Costa Rica and other parts of Central America, such as Nicaragua, Honduras and even parts of Guatemala. The zebra tarantula is a bit more of a humid-loving species when compared to other tarantulas in its genus, but its widespread distribution makes it quite forgiving when it comes to temperatures and humidity. They are avid burrowers; in the wild, they'll retreat into their dens to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

The female Aphonopelma seemanni can reach up to 6 inches in leg span, which is measured diagonally across the tarantula's body. Males are slightly smaller and live much shorter lives, averaging about four years in captivity versus their female counterparts, which can live up to 20 years or so. In the wild, the males can live up to a year after sexually maturing.

Behavior & Temperament

The zebra knee tarantula is considered something of a skittish species. They're more inclined to dart back into their burrow as opposed to strike and attack what they may consider a potential threat. However, "personalities," so to speak, vary from spider to spider. They can be rather flighty if startled and may dart off without a warning, making them far from the best candidate when it comes to handling. Sudden movements can spook the zebra knee tarantula and lead to your animal falling from your hands or arms. Falls from certain heights can harm or even kill your spider. A part of zebra knee tarantula care that many often ignore involves protecting the spider from injury.

As a New World species, the zebra tarantula doesn't have venom that's considered medically significant. The pain is described as similar to that of a bee or wasp sting, so those who are allergic to these types of venom should avoid handling the zebra knee tarantula. Biting is not their first line of defense, though. The zebra knee is known to rear up into a threatening position, revealing its fangs and the bottoms of its front legs. Usually, the tarantula will take the first chance it can get to escape, but that doesn't mean it won't bite. Secondly, they also have a cover of fine, urticating hairs all over their body. The zebra knee will attack its target by kicking hairs that possess a type of venom that can cause a rash and other skin irritation.

Housing

Aphonopelma seemanni care begins with creating a safe and healthy environment. In its natural habitat, the zebra knee is a deep burrower that will thrive in an environment that allows for tunneling. Some keep their tarantula in a terrestrial setup, but we highly recommend keeping it in a burrowing setup. A terrarium or aquarium that can allow for 6 or more inches (for an adult) of substrate is best. The depth and size of the terrarium will always vary depending on the size of your zebra tarantula. A spiderling will need a much smaller area compared to that of an adult, which would do well in something similar to a 10-gallon aquarium. Don't be too concerned as to whether or not your tarantula has enough headspace between the top of their substrate and the lid of the enclosure; realistically, anything twice the height of your tarantula is more than enough space. Too high of an area can result in falls.

A glass or acrylic terrarium will give you a peek into your tarantula's burrow if you're lucky enough for your zebra knee to have dug its pathway along the sides of the enclosure. Don't be completely discouraged with your new "pet hole," however, as the zebra knee tarantula can be seen outside of its burrow and on the prowl from time to time.

A mix of coco fiber, potting soil and vermiculite will yield a good substrate, but be sure to not use any soil with added fertilizers or chemicals. The substrate should be kept somewhat damp, but not muddy, as the humidity should be around 70 percent. Environments that are too wet or too dry will eventually kill your zebra tarantula. Also, too dry of a substrate will not "pack," making it more difficult for your tarantula to create tunnels or a burrow. Always offer a water dish, as this can help to keep your humidity levels constant, and be sure to keep the water clean. Some occasional overspill into the substrate to keep it damp is suggested as well. You can place a hide inside of your tarantula's enclosure, such as a piece of wood or cork bark, but your tarantula will not likely use it except as an entrance to its burrow, since they generally prefer to dig their own.

The zebra knee tarantula is quite forgiving when it comes to temperatures, as it can do well in a range between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Take care to not allow your tarantula's enclosure to deviate above or below this range for long periods of time.

Zebra Knee Tarantula Diet

A voracious eater, the zebra knee is known to munch on almost anything it can overpower. Whether you drop feeder insects for a zebra knee tarantula in from the top or place food near the entrance of its burrow, this tarantula is quick to snatch and pull its meal back into its burrow for safe eating. Feeders can include almost anything readily available from the pet store or breeders, such as mealworms, Dubia roaches, hornworms or live crickets. Healthy feeders, such as Dubia roaches for a zebra tarantula, make for healthy spiders. Variety is also recommended, as some prey is too high in fat or calcium. Never feed your tarantula anything caught in the wild, as such food options pose a great risk to your pet's health.

Molting

As your zebra tarantula grows, molting will be a frequent ordeal, up until it matures, where it will slow down for females and stop almost entirely for males. As a burrowing species, they will nearly always molt inside of their burrows. More often than not, the zebra knee will bring its molted exoskeleton outside of its burrow where it can easily be discarded.

Refusal of food is one of the more common signs of an upcoming molt. If you think your zebra knee tarantula is molting soon or already in the process, be sure to remove any feeders from the enclosure. Your tarantula will be soft and vulnerable, making it an easy target for a cricket to munch on.

Provide a Healthy Zebra Knee Tarantula Diet With Dubia Roaches

Proper tarantula care includes good nutrition. Dubia roaches for a zebra knee tarantula diet are a great option. Topflight Dubia offers high-quality feeder insects to ensure you raise and keep a healthy Aphonopelma seemanni. No order is too big or too small. Contact us today!

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