Aphonopelma mooreae 1/4″




Named after Barbara Moore, one of the cofounders of the American Tarantula Society, Aphonopelma mooreae comes from the Mexican state of Sonora, south of Yerora (Yécora). Smith reports habitat as “mostly ironwood desert scrub forests with columnar cacti.” [1] Ironwood (Olneya tesota) is endemic to the Sonoran Desert, which spans the US/Mexico border. Its wood sinks in water and its lifespan exceeds 800 years. For many reasons ironwood has a central role in Sonoran biodiversity. [2]

Northwest Mexico’s Sonoran Desert differs from Arizona’s counterpart, mainly because of rain from the Gulf of California, falling seasonally on the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occident

NASA satellite image, Yécora, Mexico

The town of Yécora lies in the SMO (left) at 5,700 ft. At this elevation, pine-oak woodland dominates. Ironwood is not found here.

Intolerant of sustained cold, ironwood occurs below 3280 ft. Elevation is one determinant of forest type and in this region tropical deciduous forest (TDF) grows at 1500-3000 ft, and transitions to foothills thornscrub (FTS) at 1500 ft. According to Smith’s report, these are the forests expected to support A. mooreae. In the former, trees are taller than saguaro; in the latter they are shorter.

However, in a more recent paper, based on “iNaturalist and other online sources,” Hendrixson [3] concludes “A. mooreae is a denizen of the pine-oak woodlands of the northern Sierra Madre Occidental.” Oak-pine woodlands differ greatly from ironwood desert scrub forests.

Map showing distribution of Madrean members of the Marxi species group and Aphonopelma mooreae. [3]

As for which habitat supports A. mooreae, the preponderance of data seems to suggest higher altitude oak-pine rather than lower altitude TDF/FTS. Hobbyists keeping A. mooreae will benefit hopefully from this clarification.*

Spiderlings offered on this page were captive-bred in Mexico. They are actively eating 1/8″ crickets and thriving under conditions normally used for early Aphonopelma instars.

[1] Smith, A. M. (1995). Tarantula Spiders: Tarantulas of the U.S.A. and Mexico. Fitzgerald Publishing, London, 196 pp.
[3] Hendrixson, B. E. (2019). A new species of Aphonopelma (Araneae: Mygalomorphae: Theraphosidae) from the Madrean pine-oak woodlands of northeastern Sonora, Mexico. Zootaxa 4688 (4): 519-534 © 2019 Magnolia Press.

Spiderlings and photo courtesy Dr. Jorge Mendoza.

*Thanks to Luis Roque for reference [3].

Additional information

Weight 0.1 lbs
Dimensions 1 × 0.5 × 0.5 in