If you’re a tarantula owner, hopefully you’re not asking yourself, “How long can a tarantula live without food?”
However, if for some reason you need to know, the answer may astound you.
So, How Long Can a Tarantula Live Without Food?
Tarantulas, the large, hairy spiders that evoke fear in many, hold an astonishing survival capability – the ability to endure up to two years without a meal.
It’s a feat that many creatures on Earth would find hard to match.
But how does this eight-legged creature achieve such a prolonged fast?
Unique Physiology Allows Tarantulas to Live Without Food
Unlike mammals that require regular food intake for energy and maintenance, tarantulas have a slower metabolism. This low metabolic rate means that they don’t burn energy at the same speed as other animals. Consequently, they can conserve energy over long periods, allowing them to survive during times of food scarcity.
While they can survive without food for a long duration, access to water remains crucial.
Tarantulas, like all living organisms, need water for basic cellular functions. They can go weeks without it, but eventually, the lack of water will become a bigger concern than the lack of food.
When in their natural habitat, tarantulas will often burrow deep into the ground to access cooler and more humid conditions, which helps them maintain their water balance.
Tarantulas, throughout their lifetime, go through periods of molting. This is when they shed their exoskeleton to allow for growth or to repair any damage.
During the pre-molt and molting phases, tarantulas tend to refuse food altogether, further lengthening the periods between meals. Additionally, the younger the spider, the more frequent these molting cycles are.
As tarantulas mature and their growth slows, their molting becomes less frequent, and the intervals between feeding can extend even further.
Food Scarcity Determines How Long A Tarantula May Go Without Food
In their natural habitats, tarantulas may not always find prey readily available.
Drought, seasonal changes, or other environmental factors can result in food shortages. Thus, this incredible adaptation to long fasting durations is not just an interesting fact; it’s a survival mechanism. It ensures that during lean times, the tarantula can wait it out, remaining relatively inactive, conserving energy, and then springing to action when food becomes available again.
Another factor that plays into the tarantula’s ability to go without food for extended periods is its size.
Larger tarantulas have more fat reserves than their smaller counterparts. These reserves provide the necessary energy during food shortages. Consequently, bigger tarantulas can often go longer without eating compared to younger, smaller ones.
Don’t Let Captive Tarantulas Go Without Food
While tarantulas have this remarkable ability, those who keep them as pets should exercise caution. In captivity, it’s not uncommon for tarantulas to refuse food for various reasons. Whether it’s due to stress, an impending molt, or changes in their environment, pet owners should monitor their spiders closely.
If a tarantula doesn’t eat, it’s essential to ensure that it has access to fresh water. And while they can go without food, this doesn’t mean they should be deliberately starved. Their natural ability to fast is a survival mechanism in the wild, not an invitation for neglect.