Spiders have become increasingly popular as pets due to many reasons. While ease of care and colorful appearance are certainly big factors, one of the attractions for pet Tarantulas, in particular, is that they can live for anywhere from 10 (males) to 30 (female) years!
In this article we’ll share a selection of spiders who are long lived and make great pets.
Plus an honourable mention to some of the most short lived spiders.
Spiders in the Wild Have Shorter Lifespans
As of May 2021, scientists have identified close to 50,000 species of spiders around the globe, spread across 129 families.
They are present on every continent except Antarctica and live in every imaginable environment except in the air.
The ancestors of modern-day spiders arose approximately 300 million years ago. They are arthropods, part of the class Arachnida and the order Araneae.
In the wild, most spiders will not live for more than a year or two on the average. For example, wolf spiders typically live a year, black widow spiders commonly live for up to 3 years and the common barn funnel weaver has a life span of 7 years.
There are two other factors affecting longevity in the wild:
- Females live longer than males on the average, and …
- … one of the reasons for the above is that many female spiders tend to eat their male counterparts after mating!
Which Species Live the Longest in the Wild?
The longest life spans are held by tarantulas, as mentioned above, and armored trapdoor spiders (Gaius villosusi).
Some of the data is based on educated guesswork, since it’s hard to track a specific spider over its entire lifespan in the wild. There are exceptions, however.
A trapdoor spider (tagged as No. 16), died at the ripe old age of 43 in Tammin, Australia in the Fall of 2018, well exceeding the 25 years lifespan that scientists ordinarily predict for the species. She did not even die a natural death but was likely killed by a wasp.
For more on No. 16, read on:
No. 16’s lifespan was a new world record for spiders in the wild, exceeding the 28-years’ lifespan shown by a Mexican tarantula earlier.
Spiders in Captivity Live Much Longer
Spiders can live much longer in captivity than in the wild. Among other reasons, regular food and water and the lack of predators play a big role.
Plus, if you have a solitary spider as a pet, the chances of one eating the other is of course greatly diminished.
Speaking of solitary, spiders by their very nature lead solitary lives, so they are ideal pets that are low maintenance and perfectly content in a terrarium type of setting.
They can often go for weeks, or even months, without food and need just a water dish in the corner. All in all, a houseguest perfectly content to stay by itself.
Below, we present the top half dozen among the longest lasting spiders.
The Life Span of Pet Spiders
We present three types of spiders:
- Those that make good pets (and can be handled by beginners) and live long (typically 15+ years).
- One that lives long and is occasionally kept as a pet but is not safe to handle except by experienced people.
- Spiders that do not live long but are sometimes kept as exotic pets. Some are more dangerous than others, but their life span is 1-3 years.
In general, the life span estimates provided for each of these species are more sanguine since they were observed in captivity.
A. Spiders that Make Good Pets for Beginners and Live Long
It should come as no surprise that the list below is populated by different species of tarantulas. They are among the most commonly available, colorful and personality driven pets – with a long lifespan to boot.
- Texas Tan Tarantula (Aphonopelma anax)
- Natural Habitat: Parts of southern US (Texas) and northern Mexico
- Average Lifespan: Females up to 40 years; Males 2 years post maturity, up to 8 years
- Size (Leg Span): Females (up to 6 inches); Males (up to 5 inches)
This is the largest tarantula species found in the US, though they could take 6 to 10 years to grow into their full size.
They are docile and very easy to care for with the right habitat. However, they are not as popular as pets due to their drab looks.
The typical fully grown species needs some space, but since they like to burrow, width is more necessary than height.
Filling the bottom of a 2.5 to 5 gallon tank with substrate and leaving bark and other material will provide a comfortable habitat.
Texas Tans need feeding every 7-14 days.
- Oklahoma Brown Tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi)
- Natural Habitat: Greater part of southwestern US and northern Mexico
- Average Lifespan: Females up to 40 years; Males 2 years post maturity
- Size (Leg Span): Females (3.5 to 4 inches); Males (up to 3.5 inches)
Slightly smaller but distinct from their Texas cousins above, the Oklahoma Browns are similar in nature and characteristics to Texas Tans.
Once again, they are easy to care for and can make good pets, but are not as highly sought after due to their drab appearance.
- Mexican Red Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)
- Natural Habitat: Pacific Coast near Guerrero, Mexico
- Average Lifespan: Females 25 to 30 years; Males up to 10 years
- Size (Leg Span): Females (5 to 5.5 inches); Males (4.5 to 5 inches)
These medium to big size tarantulas look spectacular, with orange and red leg joints standing out from their gray and black bodies.
Very docile and easy to care for, they make good pets that can last a long time if they find a good habitat.
Mexican Red Knees are burrowers that will need substrata and hiding places in their environment. In the wild, they like to burrow at the base of thorny plants like cacti.
- Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammostola pulchra)
- Habitat: Parts of Brazil and Uruguay
- Average Lifespan: Females 20 to 30 years; Males 4 to 6 years
- Size (Leg Span): Average size between 6 and 7 inches, can grow up to 8 inches
Brazilian Blacks are very big and stout spiders that grow extremely slowly – it can take them up to 8 years to reach their maximum size.
They are super predators and are known to eat prey that could be double their own size.
However, they exhibit docile behavior in captivity and are often known as the “black lab of tarantulas” due to their brilliant and velvety black coloration.
While popular and calm, these spiders do have fangs and venom, so pet owners must handle them carefully. Luckily, their bites are similar to the sting of bees and wasps.
They rarely flick urticating hair off their rump, but care should still be taken to not hold them close to the eyes or other delicate parts of the body.
They need an enclosure that is not too high, but roughly 2-3 times their size with plenty of hiding places. As mentioned before, they are enthusiastic eaters, so crickets, roaches, locusts and mealworms are all welcome meals for them.
- Chaco Golden Knee Tarantula (Grammostola pulchripes)
- Habitat: Parts of Paraguay and Argentina
- Lifespan: Females 20 to 25 years; Males 5 to 10 years
- Size (Leg Span): Up to 8.5 inches
One of the largest species of tarantulas, the Chaco Golden Knees stand out due to their size and brilliant gold on black coloration.
They tend to be very calm and docile as pets, despite their large size. They do need at least a 15-gallon tank, need to shelter and a warm room – though out of direct sunlight.
Choco Golden Knees are also super popular due to their aggressive eating habits, and the fact they will come out from their burrows or hiding places frequently to sit in open places in their enclosures.
- Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea)
- Habitat: Parts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina
- Average Lifespan: Females 15 to 20 years; Males 3 to 10 years
- Size (Leg Span): Females (5 inches); Males (3 inches)
Chilean Roses are often listed as the top choice for beginning pet owners, but this is a bit of a controversial topic.
While generally calm, Chilean Roses that have flown off the handle are not uncommon. This typically happens if they are handled too frequently.
In general, these splendid creatures – named after their rose-colored hairs – feed on small vertebrates or invertebrates and like to hunt nocturnally.
The seeds of their aggressive behavior may lie in the fact that unlike some other spiders who tackle medium sized prey, the Chilean Rose does not use venom, relying instead on their size to subdue their targets.
B. One Spider that Can Outlast the Tarantula but Needs to be Handled with Caution
In general, very few spiders outlive the tarantulas. But the Trapdoor Spider (Ctenizidae) is one of them.
We already have proof that they can last as long as tarantulas, if not more, though that particular species, known as the Armored Trapdoor Spider, is a native of Western Australia.
A number of species fall under the Trapdoor Spider category. They are typically between 1 to 1.5 inches long and do live for an extended period of time.
However, even though they are not venomous, trapdoor spiders can be aggressive and as such are not recommended as pets unless they are being handled by experienced owners.
C. Five Pet Spiders that do not Live as Long
There are a large number of pet spiders that are frequently kept as pets and can be handled by beginners, but which unfortunately only live for 1-3 years.
Some of the popular options include:
- Black Widow (Latrodectus)
- Average Lifespan: 1 to 3 years
- Size (Leg Span): 1.5 inches
- Fishing Spider (Dolomedes)
- Average Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
- Size (Leg Span): 3-4 inches
- Green Lynx (Peucetia Viridans)
- Average Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
- Size (Leg Span): 0.5-1 inch
- Jumping Spider (Salticidae)
- Average Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
- Size (Leg Span): 0.15-0.75 inches
- Crab Spider (Thomisidae)
- Average Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
- Size (Leg Span): 0.2-0.3 inches
The Final Word
We hope that the lists above have given you a good idea of which way to go if you are looking for pets that will be docile and live a long time, as well as other choices where you are prepared to compromise on one aspect or the other.
Tarantulas usually rule the roost as the top choices among pet owners, since species like the ones mentioned above will combine looks, temperament and life span.
For more about these amazing creatures, check out the links below:
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