Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula (Aphonopelma seemanni)

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula is an eye-catching tarantula species native to Costa Rica!

In this care guide, you’ll learn all about the basics of keeping Aphonopelma seemanni in captivity, from proper caging to feeding and breeding requirements.

Find out everything you need to know to properly care for the Striped-Knee Tarantula!

Common Name Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Striped-Knee Tarantula, Seemann's Tarantula, Zebra Tarantula
Family Name Theraphosidae
Scientific Name Aphonopelma seemanni
Use Pets
Temperament Non-aggressive
Lifespan Males: Up to 5 years / Females: Up to 20 years
Diet Carnivore
Adult Size 3.5 to 5 inches
Breeding Type Egg Layer
Care Level Moderate
Minimum Tank Size 10 Gallons
pH 5.3-7.8
Hardness Soft - Moderate
Temperature 72-86°F

What Are Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas?

Aphonopelma seemanni is a species of harmless, jumping tarantulas found in Costa Rica.

As their scientific name implies, this type of pet tarantula is a member of the Aphonopelma genus of tarantulas, part of the Theraphosidae family.

They are sometimes referred to by a variety of names, including Striped-Knee Tarantula, the Costa Rican Stripe-Knee Tarantula, and Seemann’s Tarantula.

Due to the lovely black and white stripes along their legs, they are also oftentimes called the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, or simply the Zebra Tarantula.

What Do Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas Look Like?

Aphonopelma seemanni typically measures 3.5 to 4 inches in length and boasts a characteristic black and white striped pattern on its abdomen just like a zebra.

Additionally, their exoskeleton is a deep, chocolate-brown color.

The legs are mainly black, with long thin white stripes running along them.

On their head, they have eight eyes set into two rows of four.

These tarantulas are also well known for their long hair covering their entire body (known as setae).

The setae are used primarily for sensory purposes and as a defense mechanism.

Also, on the underside of the abdomen, males have a pair of modified legs that are used for mating.

Benefits Of Using Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas

Zebra Tarantulas make a wonderful addition to vivariums, offering both beauty and entertainment.

As attractive tarantulas, they feature beautiful stripes of alternating black, white, and yellow which makes them stand out in their enclosure.

But beyond their good looks, this species is also known for its docile and slow-moving nature, making them a great pet for even beginner tarantula owners.

They’re also quite hardy and can thrive in a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels.

They don’t require as much maintenance as some other species, as they’re not overly active and don’t need frequent feedings.

Aphonopelma seemanni also mates relatively easily, so it’s not too hard to breed them in captivity.

All in all, Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas make a great addition to many types of vivariums.

Aphonopelma seemanni: Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula Care Guide

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula Facts

The Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, a colorful arachnid native to Latin America, is an exciting pet choice for many animal enthusiasts.

They are a small species of tarantula, typically measuring around a few inches in length when fully grown and have a calm, docile temperament.

Aphonopelma seemanni eats a variety of smaller prey in the wild to maintain their energy level.


Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas are a species of tarantula native to Central America, with their endemic range limited to a small part of Costa Rica.

These tarantulas can live in montane and lowland rainforest, preferring moderate-temperature and high-humidity habitats.

They are commonly found in the suburbs of San Jose, Costa Rica, and are sometimes spotted in moist grasslands, near rivers, and even in human-created gardens.


In the wild, Aphonopelma seemanni can be found preying on a variety of small insects, such as crickets, spiders, and moths.

Each of these should be a staple of their diet in captivity as well.

Occasional treats of earthworms, small lizards, and roaches can also be offered to provide variety.

As opportunistic predators, Zebra Tarantulas will also scavenge for food if available.

They may feed on a range of plant material, including leaves, fruit, fungus, and bacteria.

The Striped-Knee Tarantula typically consumes their prey alive and whole, so it’s good to provide them with a reasonable number of food items to prevent them from over-eating.

During the slower winter months, it’s important to reduce their feeding frequency and focus more on ensuring high-quality prey to prevent obesity.


Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas are generally considered to be quite docile around humans and other animals.

They rarely become aggressive and, providing they are treated with respect, remain quite tolerant of our presence.

As invertebrates, they have quite a different way of perceiving the world around them, so proper handling techniques must be employed to ensure that they do not get unduly stressed.

However, Aphonopelma seemanni can become defensive if they are frightened, and will flick their barbed hairs and bite if they feel threatened.

That being said, with proper care and understanding of their behavior, it is easy to work with these spiders and develop a mutually enjoyable relationship.

They can become quite friendly and be handled safely as long as aggression is never shown to them.

With some regular handling, they can become quite trusting of their owners.

Lastly, Seemann’s Tarantula should never come into contact with other animals.

They should be kept completely separate from other pets such as cats and dogs as they are not equipped to defend themselves against a predatory animal.

The same goes for other spider species and even other A. seemanni. Housing two of the same species together will only result in one being killed.


The life expectancy of male Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas is around 5 years, depending on the care it receives from their keeper.

In the wild, females have been known to live up to 20 years.

These arachnids have several stages of life, everyone depending on the molting cycle.

These stages are egg, spiderling, juvenile, sub-adult, and adult.

The egg stage is the initial stage; it’s when the female tarantula lays her eggs in an egg sac which she’ll carry with her for up to 6 months.

Once the spiderlings hatch, they’ll stay with the mother for a few weeks before venturing off on their own.

During the juvenile stage, Aphonopelma seemanni will reach a length of 1 to 2 inches and will molt around 5 to 6 times before becoming a sub-adult.

A sub-adult tarantula will be around 3-4 inches long and will molt a few more times before reaching full adulthood. 

As an adult, Striped-Knee Tarantulas can grow up to 5 inches in length and will molt every several months or so until they approach their maximum life expectancy.

It is good practice to ensure that their diet is adequate, they have the right humidity and temperature levels, and that they are kept in the proper enclosure to help them live their full life.


The mating and breeding process of Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas is fascinating and complex and requires a significant amount of planning and dedication on the part of the keeper.

When an adult is ready to mate, the male will usually approach the female carefully and wave his front legs in a courtship ritual.

If she is receptive, the male will catch the female’s attention by drumming his abdomen against her body.

After mating, females will produce egg sacs that typically contain anywhere from 30-100 eggs.

The female will take care of the eggs until they hatch, and the young Aphonopelma seemanni will reach sexual maturity after a few years.

It’s important to remember that males and females should never be housed together, as this could lead to aggressive behavior or possible injury.

Where To Find Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas

Finding Aphonopelma seemanni in the wild can be quite difficult due to their limited natural habitat.

These arachnids can only be found in the humid lowland forests of Costa Rica, making it essential to know the right places when searching for these tiny creatures.

Specific areas of the country such as Guanacaste or Puntarenas Provinces are known to be inhabited by this species. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, you may be able to find a responsible breeder online.

It is recommended to thoroughly research the breeder and ask questions before doing any kind of transaction.

It is possible to find these tarantulas in pet stores, however, it’s wise to make sure the store is reputable and it follows all legal requirements.

Compared to wild specimens, captive-bred A. seemanni tend to be much easier to handle and healthier, making for good long-term pet companions.

Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula Care

To care for Striped-Knee Tarantulas, set up an appropriate enclosure with the necessary furnishings and organization

Make sure to maintain the correct temperature and humidity, feed the right diet, and watch for signs of stress or common illness.

Also, consider hand-taming them and their mating and breeding needs.

Tank Requirements

When housed in captivity, Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas require a few specific elements to live comfortably.

A 10-gallon tank is recommended, though larger tanks will give Aphonopelma seemanni more space to explore.

As for terrarium substrate, coconut fiber, and dyes-free sphagnum moss are both suitable options.

The ideal temperature range for a Zebra Tarantula is 75-80°F, and humidity should range between 65 and 75%.

Good ventilation is essential and can be achieved by having at least one mesh panel in the enclosure.

The enclosure should also provide a terrarium light, though you may not be able to see it like you would with other exotic pets.

It’s also good practice to be aware of the water’s hardness and pH, and ensure it is not too acidic or alkaline for your tarantula.

Lastly, the enclosure must be escape-proof, as A. seemanni is an excellent climber.

What Do Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas Eat?

Feeding your Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas is an essential part of their overall health and well-being.

Generally speaking, these tarantulas should be offered an appropriately-sized insect prey item once or twice a week, depending on the species size and age.

Because of their small size, normal feeders for trapdoor and Goliath tarantulas such as crickets and superworms are generally too big for Aphonopelma seemanni.

Listed below are some of the feeder insects that are appropriate for Striped-Knee Tarantulas:

  • Mealworms
  • Coconut worms
  • Fruit flies
  • Large wax worms
  • Pinhead crickets

Prior to feeding your tarantula, you should thaw and/or dust the prey item as necessary.

Fresh, clean water should also be available at all times in the enclosure for your spiders to drink.

As a pet owner, it is good to monitor the size of prey items to make sure they are not too large for your tarantula to eat safely.

If you’re looking for a more detailed approach to feeding these arachnids, be sure to check out my ultimate DIY tarantula food guide. I give a more in-depth explanation of the best foods and my favorite recipe.

What Do Tarantulas Eat? | Best Pet Tarantula Food & Feeding!

Best Tankmates For Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas

When you keep a Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula in captivity, it is important to consider the right tank mates.

As aggressive and solitary hunters, they should not be kept with any aggressive arachnids, like other tarantulas.

Potential tankmates may include millipedes, and springtails, both of which are non-aggressive.

Furthermore, other animals that have similar beneficial qualities can also be kept with Aphonopelma seemanni, such as isopods, which help feed on decomposing matter and contribute to the substrate formation process within the tank.

They also help to keep the tank clean by feeding on surface algae and leftover tarantula food.

Snails, like land Snails, can fulfill the same purpose and offer the tank an interesting addition, although they can leave a trail of destruction behind if there are too many in the tank.


Congratulations on making it through this care guide for Costa Rican Zebra Tarantulas!

With the essential information provided in this article, you’ll be able to confidently care for your Aphonopelma seemanni and create a safe and comfortable environment for your arachnid family member.

If you maintain their temperature and humidity needs, provide adequate caging, and offer a balanced diet, you’ll soon have healthy and thriving Striped-Knee Tarantulas in your care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a Costa Rican zebra tarantula can be held as long as the person doing so takes appropriate safety precautions. It is important to handle the tarantula carefully to avoid being bitten, and make sure to always wash your hands before and after handling to avoid transferring bacteria from the spider‘s environment to your own.

No, Costa Rican zebra tarantulas are not aggressive and typically only bite out of selfdefense. However, they are considered to have a high level of defensive behaviors, so it is important to use caution when handling them.

Yes, Costa Rican zebra tarantulas can be a great choice for beginners who are willing to do the proper research. While they have highly defensive behavior and can bite out of selfdefense, their bites are not harmful and rarely occur when they are handled carefully.

Costa Rican zebra tarantulas typically reach a maximum size of around 3.5 to 5 inches.

Striped knee tarantulas, also known as Aphonopelma seemanni, can have varying temperaments, but they are generally considered docile and relatively friendly compared to some other tarantula species.

Zebra knee tarantulas typically eat once every week or two.

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