- Oct 11, 2012
Intuitively, you can easily reason why decreasing feeding can lead to longer lifespans. If it takes longer for them to achieve critical weight--the minimum mass required before a molt, you prolong the period of time between every molt. In that way, you can greatly increase the time it takes for them to mature and delay the point at which senescence can occur.A great point. I interpret the term powerfeeding as a reflection of the keeper's actions and not of the sling's, but I see where you're coming from. I know that it's generally thought from anecdotal evidence that decreasing feeding will lead to longer lifespans--do you know of any studies? I agree that it's certainly the intuitive conclusion to make; I just wonder if there are any numbers to back it up.
I don't know of any studies on tarantulas, but in the lab I work in, one of the grad students was starving Manduca sexta to prolong the fifth instar. In lab conditions, it normally takes about five days from ecdysis to a fifth instar to the start of wandering, which is when the animal ceases eating and searches for a place to pupate. When starved, you have animals that remain in the fifth instar for considerably longer AND pupate at a considerably smaller mass, resulting in a longer lifespan(as a fifth instar) and a smaller adult size. Both Manduca sexta caterpillars and juvenile tarantulas are designed to eat as much as possible before each molt, so you could theorize that starvation has a similar effect on tarantulas.
Under non-experimental conditions, we set the Manduca sexta up in more food than they could possibly eat and they are free to eat as much as they want, just as though they were in the wild and living on a host plant. You certainly wouldn't call this practice powerfeeding or overfeeding. It's just regular feeding because juvenile invertebrates are designed to eat as frequently as their biology allows and grow as quickly as their biology allows.