There’s no doubt tarantulas live longer lifespans in captivity than they do in the wild, due to a lack of predators, but how long can a tarantula’s lifespan really stretch? No one’s really studied how long tarantulas live in the wild, so there’s really no clear answer to the wild-versus-captive question. However, we do know much more about their captive longevity.
Tarantulas can have very long lifespans in captivity, but just how long?
Tarantula lifespans - Male vs. Female
Any discussion about tarantula lifespans must begin with the knowledge that females live much longer than males. Much longer. Knowing that with most animals, males live longer because they don’t have the taxing duty of reproduction, why is the opposite true with tarantulas? Truthfully, we don’t have solid answers yet.
Males usually live a year or two after they reach sexual maturity, which generally happens at around two years of age with plenty of food, although it can happen quicker, or take longer. I’ve found though, that if the time to maturity is artificially lengthened through modest feeding and moderate temperatures, the tarantula’s lifespan extends as a result. So, in a sense, reaching sexual maturity is like lighting a timed fuse for males. Most male tarantulas live 3-6 years, but rarely longer.
Indian Ornamental tarantulas may live for many years, especially females.
Here’s where things get impressive. Female tarantulas can live for up to 35 years, with whispers of eclipsing 40 years, which is absolutely incredible to me. However, it does depend upon the species and the environmental conditions in captivity. There are two main controllable factors, and one uncontrollable:
Controllable: The higher the temperature, the shorter the lifespan. Keeping a tarantula at room temperature versus 85F would likely make a noticeabe difference.
Controllable: The more food, the shorter the lifespan. Power-feeding tarantulas can shorten their lifespans. It’s best to offer a moderate diet regimen.
Uncontrollable: Genetics plays a role in how long a tarantula lives, just as it does for all living things.
Unfortunately, nothing is well documented on this subject. How can an insect live that long? Well, tarantulas aren’t insects, they’re arthropods.
Longest living tarantula species
The Mexican Redleg tarantula (Brachypelma emelia) is debatably the longest-living species of tarantula, with various hobbyists claiming verified lifespans of 30-35 years. Understandably, it’s not easy to confirm, because how many folks have had a pet tarantula since the early 1980’s?
So, if you’re considering purchasing your own pet tarantula, just know that they can have very long lifespans and it can be a multi-decade commitment.