Aphonopelma Seemanni: Facts, Lifespan, Care, Feeding, & Breeding

The Aphonopelma Seemanni was one of the first tarantulas readily available in pet shops to tarantula enthusiasts.  Natively, they originate from Costa Rica, hence their common name, the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula.  The Striped-Kneed Tarantula is also a popular nickname.  The ‘Zebra’ part of the spider’s name refers to its unique coloring: white-and-black-striped knees, in hues varying between a subtler cream and a bright snowy white. The bulk of the spider’s body is a solid brown or black.  Black varieties are rare compared to brown, and are most true to name, and are sought-after highly.  All varieties are known for their striking beauty!

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula is found in hotter, drier areas of Costa Rica, preferring this sort of environment to those which are more humid and tropical.  Like many tarantulas, the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula digs a burrow as its habitat of choice.  Indeed, the little fellows prefer hot and cozy environments.  Rather than spinning a web, like many spider breeds, tarantulas create silk.  They take pleasure in home comforts, lining their burrow walls with a white material that is soft and springy.  The most clever tarantulas set silk traps outside of their burrow, to alert them of prey.

Aphonopelma Seemanni Lifespan & Size

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas can have remarkable longevity.  The males live an average of 7 years, which is respectable.  The females live up to an impressive 20 years; a bit of an unfair age disparity.  Females reach maturity at 5-6 years, males at 2-3. On a proper diet, the tarantula grows quickly, averaging a fairly impressive 5-6 inches (leg span making up the majority of their size).

Aphonopelma Seemanni Facts & Characteristic

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula digs its burrows very deeply.  Originating as it does in the more desert-like spots in Costa Rica, it is accustomed to extreme highs and lows in temperature. Its burrow is a haven during sunny hours, retaining cool and moisture despite the heat of the day.  At night, when temperatures drop to uncomfortable levels, the tarantula can nestle itself away from cold and exposure.

These tarantulas are shy creatures.  In the wild, they are accustomed to avoiding all manner of creatures, including humans.  They prefer gentle treatment and need plenty of space.  Most Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula owners don’t mind this, as the pretty look and interesting behavior (burrowing, silk-weaving, etc.) are their primary draw.

In the wild, tarantulas face many natural enemies, including snakes, lizards, and spider-eating birds.  Perhaps the worst are female Tarantula Hawks, which stun and kidnap tarantulas and lay eggs in their bodies, which then hatch and eat their flesh; a nightmarish fate.  Luckily these tarantulas can move extremely quickly when they need to and retreat into their trusty burrows.

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas hunt a variety of insects.  Grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, small lizards (if they are feeling ambitious), pinkie mice, and beetles are some favorites. 

They pride themselves as fierce hunters.  They are stealthy, hiding until the prey is within range.  They ambush, and if necessary, pursue.  They are fast and powerful, and once they have their sights on something, it does not take long for them to sink in their fangs and deliver stunning bites: the killing blows.

Handling & Bite

Tarantula bites are indeed quite deadly to their prey, but not to humans, luckily, or else as a pet; they might be less desirable.  Tarantula bites have less venom than a honeybee sting.  They are merely painful.  A bite, of course, signifies that a tarantula is feeling extremely threatened, and will without a doubt cause distress to both parties. 

Before a tarantula bites, it will show other warning signs that are clear enough to observe.  First, it will lift its front two pairs of legs.  This means: back off.  Should the tarantula become more upset, it will release hairs, known as urticating hairs.  These are prickly skin-irritants, used to make themselves less appealing to predators.  It is unkind to push a tarantula this far, and unwise. 

Fortunately, negative situations like this can be avoided easily!  If a tarantula is of sound temperament, which a pet tarantula ought to be, providing it with a few comforts should be enough to set the little (relatively!) guy at ease.     

A quiet environment, with little stimulation and stressors, is perfect for the peace-loving Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula. 

If you would like to hold a tarantula, use due care.  First, make sure the tarantula is willing.  Most often they do not like to be held. If it is cooperative, however, transfer it with soft foam-tipped forceps or a capture cup rather than your bare hands.  Tarantulas may look fearsome, but they are in reality very fragile, so instruments such as this are necessary.  By no means drop a tarantula; its outer skeleton cracks easily and it could die.  Expect that it may spook and flee randomly and that the spider moves swiftly.  Holding a tarantula can be extremely risky for the brittle and fuzzy creature, so it is advised not to do it often.

As a general rule, do not touch a tarantula’s abdomen, as it may cause the unintentional release of urticating hairs

Do not poke a tarantula, or pour things on it, or treat it rudely in any way; not only is this inhumane, but the tarantula will respond similarly. Speak softly around the creature, be respectful, and show gentleness in your actions.

By showing these basic considerations, you can make a friend of the wary but lovely Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula.

Aphonopelma Seemanni Feeding

Most opt to feed Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas crickets. Part of caring for a tarantula is caring for its prey, as it requires it live, and crickets are easy enough to keep alive. 

A tarantula requires a feeding once, sometimes twice a week.  Cockroaches and grasshoppers are also nutritious options that the tarantula is well-known to like.

Release the live meal into the cage, allow the tarantula time to eat (it may be a massacre!), and then remove the leftovers. It will only cause tarantula stress to have the stimulation of bugs around when it is not hunting or hungry.

Take note of the appetite of your Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula. Track its growth also, and encourage this.  Adjust its feeding frequency and portions accordingly. 

Aphonopelma Seemanni Care

The care of a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula is straightforward and systematic.  First off, provide your tarantula with a spacious cage.  Considering that these tarantulas can grow to 5-6 inches, plenty of room for movement and burrowing is a necessity.

There are particular substrates available for the tarantula to live in; take a look online or in pet stores. 

A heater must be put in place to keep the tarantula in livable temperatures, as it is genetically accustomed to the heat and humidity of Costa Rica and the like.  A reptile-safe thermostat is an excellent way to watch the temperature and make sure it does not exceed the tarantula’s limits, which are 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit, typically.  Heat only one section of the cage, so that your tarantula can move about according to its temperature needs and whims.   

Spray the cage of your Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula a couple of times a week to maintain humidity, making sure not to overdo this.  Feed your tarantula as per its requirements, and provide it with fresh water in a clean dish daily.

Aphonopelma Seemanni Breeding

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula breeds in a roundabout sort of way.  First, the male, the smaller of the two, deposits semen onto silk.  It covers its pinchers with this and then injects it into the abdomen of the female, which is much larger than her mate.  It is all very romantic! 

The male flees the scene, as females are sometimes inclined to eat them afterward; a rather barbaric practice, and one that is common among spiders of all kinds!  The female then lays eggs in silk and guards them until they hatch.

In summation, the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula is a beauty, a skilled hunter, and a homebody.  The spiders spend their time burrowing dutifully and perhaps a tad obsessively, warming themselves lazily and sleeping in their little nook, and hunting enthusiastically.  They can make a fantastic pet for the right person. 

Someone who wishes to observe more than interact is ideal, as spiders, even tame, are shy and like their space.  Having one in a (proper!) cage can be a great way to watch the spider’s life, quirks, and to learn its personality, while in return offering it food and safety!