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Home > Spider > How Long Can Tarantulas Go Without Food and Water? The Surprising Answer!

How Long Can Tarantulas Go Without Food and Water? The Surprising Answer!


Tarantulas are invertebrate spiders belonging to the Theropsidae family. Over 1,200 species of Tarantula live across the globe, and they’ve become a popular exotic pet for the more adventurous animal lover. But how long can a Tarantula go without food or water? Depending on the species and sex, Tarantulas have been known to survive for up to 2 years without food. However, a Tarantula will quickly dehydrate (within around a week) without any water or moisture in their environment.

Tarantulas need a drinkable source of water and humidity in their environment. Most will dehydrate and die within a week of not having water1, but the average Tarantula will go for a month or more without eating during its lifetime.

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How Do Tarantulas Eat and Drink?

Tarantulas are invertebrates, so they have different body systems from mammals. They need specific “prey” food items, such as other invertebrates or small reptiles, and many are picky about what they eat! They also need a humidity-controlled environment alongside water sources due to the unique way they drink and breathe. Knowing how a Tarantula eats and drinks is the key to narrowing down how long they can go without eating and drinking.

Brown Tarantula Wolf Spider
Image By: Skyler Ewing, Pexels


Tarantula’s mouths are essentially long tubes connected to wider chambers that act as the “stomach” and intestines. A Tarantula does have fangs but has no true way of digesting larger pieces of food by mouth, and they don’t have the muscles needed to swallow. So instead, the Tarantula uses a sucking motion to move liquid food through this tube from its mouthparts.

Any food the Tarantula eats must be liquidized before eating. When prey is killed, the Tarantula will excrete digestive juices that coat the prey and begin the digestion process. Larger prey with many hard parts or bones (like mice) is crushed and pulverized before liquidation.

The liquified material is then sucked into the stomach and the intestine via the mouthparts. The intestines are permeable and can allow the broken-down molecules of the prey to travel through to the Tarantula’s hemolymph (its “blood”) for use around the body.


Tarantulas drink the same way that they eat—through their mouths! The Tarantula will approach the water source and submerge itself into it, up to its chest. This allows them to dip their mouthparts (or Chelicera) into the water, letting them suck the water up. Tarantulas breathe through openings along their bodies and legs, so they won’t drown when submerged in this way. Tarantulas also absorb water from their environment and their liquidated prey.

How Can Tarantulas Go So Long Without Eating?

Tarantulas can go for years without eating due to their incredibly low metabolic rate. This is because Tarantulas (and most other spiders) are ambush predators that sometimes have to wait long periods for food2. A Tarantula hunts by constructing a web, although they don’t usually resemble the rounded webs we normally think of. Some Tarantulas will line their burrows with webbing and sit in wait to ambush their prey!

Tarantulas will also endure periods without food when they’re preparing to molt. Tarantulas that shed their exoskeleton in favor of a bigger one to allow them to grow will commonly not eat for weeks or even months before and during the process. When molting, a Tarantula’s metabolism slows down. Young Tarantulas (spiderlings) will need to eat much more than adult Tarantulas do as they grow, and they reach sexual maturity at around 5 to 8 years old. Tarantulas can sometimes live for 30 years!

A Tarantula’s metabolism will slow or speed up, depending on the food available in the area. However, without food, a Tarantula will eventually starve and die.

Jumping Spider Tarantula
Image By: Shaun Bell, Unsplash

How Can You Tell if a Tarantula Is Hungry?

It can be tricky to determine when a Tarantula is hungry, as they won’t bring their food bowl up to you as a dog would! Because Tarantulas, by nature, have to conserve energy, they aren’t particularly active. However, a Tarantula will display certain behaviors that point to hunger which we can look out for when caring for them:

  • Tarantulas may spin more webs when hungry to have a better chance of catching more prey.
  • Tarantulas may pace or stalk the edges of their terrariums, searching for food.
  • They may become noticeably more active as they prepare to hunt for food.

While these behaviors can be observed, there is often no discernable change in behavior when Tarantulas are hungry in captivity. Most are shy, so feeding them regularly is key to keeping them nourished.

Can Tarantulas Get Dehydrated?

Tarantulas can get dehydrated and need water to survive like all life. Humidity is important for a Tarantula, as they can lose water in various ways. Drinking water and humidity in the environment are needed, with environmental humidity usually kept between 60–80% depending on the species. Tarantulas can dehydrate in the following ways3:

  • When molting (water acts as a lubricant when it sheds its skin)
  • When defecating
  • When egg-laying
  • When spinning silk for their webs
  • Through the inner surface of their lungs
  • Through the joints in their legs

If a Tarantula is dehydrated, it’s unable to shed its exoskeleton properly and can get stuck in its old skin. They can also have breathing problems if the inner surfaces of their lungs aren’t moist enough!

What Do Tarantulas Eat?

Tarantulas are carnivorous and usually eat invertebrates, but they are also known to eat small vertebrates. The prey size depends on the Tarantula, as some bigger species (such as the Goliath Bird Eater) can catch lizards or birds as prey!

Captive Tarantulas will commonly eat crickets or locusts as live food, although care must be taken when they’re molting. Crickets and locusts can hurt them when their freshly shed exoskeleton is exposed, as it’s very soft. They can also eat mealworms and wax worms, and flies are sometimes given, depending on the Tarantula’s size.

Tarantulas can be given cubes of low-fat, raw beef to eat as a treat, and some owners like to feed them “pinkies” (dead, hairless baby mice) if they are large enough.

Tarantula theraphosa spider
Image By: Michael Kleinsasser, Pixabay

How Often Do Tarantulas Need Feeding?

If they’re not shedding or growing, tarantulas should be fed 2–3 crickets or locusts a week. This amount will vary from spider to spider, so selecting a healthy food and testing your Tarantula’s intake will give you your baseline. Remove any food the Tarantula doesn’t eat from their environment since some prey (such as crickets) can hurt the Tarantula and fight back!



Tarantulas need food and water to survive. However, they can go a long time without food. Some evidence has documented Tarantulas going months or even years without food, but they will dehydrate quickly and die within a week or two without water. Tarantulas lose water in many ways, and they benefit from a humid environment to help them retain it. Tarantulas may go through periods of fasting during certain situations, such as when molting their exoskeleton. However, providing your Tarantula with species-appropriate food at all times and ensuring they have water is the key to keeping them healthy and happy.

Featured Image Credit By: 12019, pixabay

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