Eurypelma smithi was described in 1897 by F. O. P. Cambridge from material collected by H. H. Smith in Dos Arroyos Guerrero, Mexico.

Brachypelma smithi

This description is part of one of the best looking collections of tarantula art: Arachnida. Araneidea and Opiliones , 1897-1905 (click to visit the homepage of the Smithsonian museum and see the plate of Eurypelma smithi.)

In 1903 Pocock transferred E. smithi into the genus Brachypelma.

The habitat of Brachypelma smithi

As noted above, the type of Brachypelma smithi comes from Dos Arroyos in the Mexican state Guerrero. Here in the foothills of the Sierra Madre del Sur the tarantula prefers the dry forest along the Pacific coast.

A. Locht, M. Yanez and I. Vázquez “DISTRIBUTION AND NATURAL HISTORY OF MEXICAN SPECIES OF BRACHYPELMA AND BRACHYPELMIDES (THERAPHOSIDAE, THERAPHOSINAE) WITH MORPHOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR THEIR SYNONYMY” (1999. The Journal of Arachnology 27:196–200) In this paper the authors describe 2 distinct distributions for Brachypelma smithi. One around Acapulco, Guerrero Mexico (this is where the type site is.) And a second region in Colima Mexico. These 2 sites are separated from each other by the large river Balsas in Michoacan.

Distribution of Brachypelma smithi after A. Locht, M. Yañez and I. Vazquez

The Colima form of Brachypelma smithi is the form that is found in the European and American hobby.

Brachypelma smithi in Colima, Mexico

B. smithi is found in the tropical sub-humid forest along the Pacific coast of Colima and Michoacan. During the 5 months in the rain season this region receives 730-1200 mm of rainfall each year (

The daytime temperature differs only a view degrees during the year. The mean temperature is 28C during the day and 20C during the night. Due to the construction of the burrow, the temperature inside the burrow is stable all day round.

Climate graph compiled with data from:

Temperature inside and outside of the burrow.

The burrow of Brachypelma smithi here can be anything from a scrape under a rock to a rodent burrow that is not in use anymore. This species is adaptive and uses whatever can be found.

After the rains have stopped ( normally about October), the adult males come out of their burrow to search for females willing to mate.

Forest has been removed to make space for a cow pasture.

Brachypelma smithi burrow in a scrape in the rocks.

Rodent burrow now occupied by Brachypelma smithi.

Deciduous dry forest, Habitat of Brachypelma smithi.

Brachypelma smithi in Guerrero, Mexico

Just North-East of Acapulco is the small town of Dos Arroyos, Guerrero Mexico. Here in the foothills of the sierra Madre del Sur is the type location of Brachypelma smithi. This is where H.H. Smith collected the first specimen of perhaps the most beautiful species of tarantula in the world.

The pacific coast in Guerrero, Mexico with the sierra Madre del Sur in the background.

Just like in Colima, the habitat found here is dry deciduous forest ( The precipitation levels are always below 1200 mm/year. During the day it is not uncommon to see the spider at the entrance of the burrow. This burrow is normally about 30 cm deep. It consists of an entrance that leads to a chamber just big enough for the spider to rest and once per year (for adult Brachypelma smithi) molt in safety.

Climate graph compiled with data from:

Brachypelma smithi at the entrance of the burrow. Guerrero, Mexico

Brachypelma smithi female. Guerrero, Mexico

The 2 forms of Brachypelma smithi can readily be separated from each other. The Guerrero form looks woollier and the colors are more vibrant. When looking at the flame pattern on the patella of the legs and pedipalps, you also notice the Guerrero form has no black hairs around the red flame.

Brachypelma smithi adult male.

Brachypelma smithi Guerrero, Mexico.

Leg IV

Brachypelma smithi Colima, Mexico.

Leg IV

Along with Brachypelma smithi, a second Brachypelma if found around Acapulco; Brachypelma verdezi. The colonies of the 2 species are competing for the same prey items. The faster growing Brachypelma verdezi could have the advantage here.

Brachypelma verdezi Guerrero, Mexico.