5 Reasons Why Animals Have Short Lifespans (With Other Amazing Facts)

Animals indeed have many responsibilities in our ecosystem, they help in decomposition, carbon, and nitrogen cycle. All animals, small animals, or large animals, have a role in our ecosystem. 

However, animals can only help us for a few years. Why? Because animals die earlier than humans. Animals have a shorter lifespan than humans. 

However, even though animals have shorter lifespans than humans, animals are capable of reproducing fast. So it means that an animal family tree can have lots of branches in just a few years.

But, what is the reason why animals live shorter than humans? Why Animals have short lifespans?

There are many reasons why animals live shorter but there is one big factor that affects the length of lifespan of animals. Scientists said that the length of the lifespan of animals is vastly related to their sizes, which means that shorter animals can have a shorter lifespan than other bigger animals.  

However, there are other reasons why animals have short lifespans, and we are here to discuss it with you.

5 Reasons Why Animals Have Short Lifespan

There are many factors to consider to conclude the reason why animals have a short lifespan. The factors that need to be considered are:

  • Eating habits of animals
  • Size of animals
  • Food chain position
  • Habitat
  • Species’ BMR

1. Eating Habits Of Animals

This factor has a bigger role in dictating the length of lifespan of all animal species and all humans. Why?

Because we do eat every day, and eating food is essential because it is the one that gives us the energy we need throughout the day. Knowing what the right food to eat is essential for us to get the nutrients and vitamins that we need to make us healthy and live longer.

Having a healthy eating habit and healthy diet is essential to all living species like animals and humans. Too many toxic foods or preservatives can shorten our lifespan and most likely will give us health trouble. 

An animal’s length of lifespan depends on their eating habits, their diet, and how often they eat. Animals that eat less than usual are most likely to have health issues, and they can get some diseases like cancer. 

Animals that eat healthy foods like plants and vegetables can live a healthy and long life. That is why herbivore animals like elephants, horses, and giraffes have longer lifespans than carnivore and omnivore animals.

2. Size Of Animals

The size of animals also plays a huge role in dictating how long an animal species lives. Scientists studied this for a long time, and they conclude that shorter animals have a shorter lifespan than larger animals. 

The reason for this is that they believe that smaller animals have higher metabolic rates. That is why small animals have short lifespans. 

However, this doesn’t work for all animals. Some smaller animals like parrots have high metabolic rates but can live for more than 80 years according to science. Another animal is the jellyfish, they are small but they can escape death.  

3. Food Chain Position

Yes, you are right! If you are thinking that animals that are below the food chain live shorter than animals above the food chain, then you are right!

Animals that are below the food chain live shorter because they are the prey of larger animals like lions, cheetahs, and tigers. 

However, even though these animals are below the food chain, if they can defend themselves from their predator, then high chances they won’t get eaten. It means that animals that have astounding defense mechanisms and survival skills are more likely to live longer. 

4. Environmental Factors

This factor is considered as one of the reasons why animals have short lifespans. What are the environmental factors? Environmental factors are temperature, food, pollutants, population density, and parasites. 

Scientists state that some environmental factors can influence the length of lifespan of animals. For example, scientists assumed that animals living in cold environments are more likely to live longer. Scientists believe that animals with lower body temperature have a longer lifespan.

Food belongs to the environmental factors, and it dictates how long an animal should live. Animals that live in an area where food is abundant are more likely to eat more and live longer. 

On the other point of view, if an animal lives in an area where food is scarce or if there is no prey in that area, then they will most likely move or migrate to an area where they think they will survive.

This is one of the reasons why animals migrate. If they feel that they will die out in their current living area because of the scarcity of food, then they will plan a migration. 

However, some animals like polar bears cannot migrate even if they saw a scarcity in foods because they tend to live in cold places only, and moving to hotter places is a bad idea.

Too much pollution made by humans is very bad for the health of animals. Pollution can be on air, water, and land. These types of human pollution have large negative effects on our nature and animals. 

Deforestation is one of the illegal movements made by humans, and it caused many animals to die and caused the extinction of some species. Illegal habits made by humans like deforestation can also affect the lifespan of every animal.

The vast growth of the human population can also affect an animal’s lifespan. The more the population of humans grows, the more the forest will be destroyed. Why? 

Because the population of humans grows, they will be more likely to execute deforestation to expand the habitat of the people. This kind of thing has a good and bad effect on people.

The good effect is that human habitation will increase. On the other side of the coin, the negative effects like losing the population of animals, which are both not dreadful for nature and us humans. Why? Because we get our food through animals, so losing them will cause a shortage of food. 

Parasites can also lessen the length of lifespan of animals. The more parasites an animal has on their body, the less time they will live because parasites may weaken the animal’s immune system and can cause some bacterial disease. 

5. Species’ Basal Metabolic Rate Or BMR

What is basal metabolic rate? Basal metabolic rate is the rate of energy a living organism spends. It is the amount of energy needed to keep the body of a living organism functioning. Animals with high metabolic rates have a low chance to live long.

It is like motorcycles, the more gas a motorcycle uses the more it will run out of gas, and the engine will fail to start. It is the same with animals. The higher the energy an animal’s expenditure, the less their lifespan will be. 

Smaller animals like rats tend to have a high metabolic rate that is why they have short lifespans. However, this does not work with every animal. Parrots have a high metabolic rate but can live for more than 50 years.

10 Animals With Short Lifespans

The ten animals with short lifespans are:

  • Hamsters
  • Working Bees
  • Robin Birds
  • Drone Ants
  • Mayflies
  • Labor’s chameleons
  • Gastrotrich
  • Hedgehogs
  • Moles
  • Dogs

1. Hamster: 2-5 Years

Why Animals Have Short Lifespan

A hamster is the cutest pet a person can have, and it is the common house pet. Hamsters are easy to take care of because all you just need to do is to give them food, clean their house, and give them water. No petting session is required but make sure to buy two to three hamsters to keep them accompanied. 

Hamsters can also be a good stress reliever because they can entertain you while they are in a jar or glass. However, hamsters can only amuse their owners for two to five years. 

Hamsters reach their sexual maturity quickly, and they can reproduce many times per year. Most hamsters have a gestation period that lasts as little as 14-16 days. That is why they are capable of having many babies every year. 

2. Working Bee: 4 Weeks

Why Animals Have Short Lifespans

Worker bees can only live for four weeks. Why? Because they are workers! They spend their energy working, and they have busy lives. All they do is work, work, and work!

Working bees are all female, and they spend their whole life working for the good of their hives. If the working bees are on their hives and have no outside project, their service for the hive is not done yet. They are guarding and defending the hives from any potential threats. 

3. Robin: 1-2 years

Why Animals Have Short Lifespans

Robin birds are one of the cutest and common types of birds. They can only be seen during the spring seasons. Robins can only be heard chirping for 1-2 years. 

Robin birds can fly and leave their nests after two weeks from being hatched. They join their fellow birds to find food. Robin birds’ can be sexually matured after one year after being hatched. Also, female robins lay three to five eggs at a time.

4. Drone Ant: 3 Days

Drone ants are male ants, and their job is to mate with the queen ant so that she can lay eggs and produce many ants. They don’t usually go outside the colony, and they only stay inside. Drones will die as soon as they have accomplished their missions. 

5. Mayfly: 24 hours

Why Animals Have Short Lifespan

The animal that has the shortest lifespan award goes to the Mayflies. They only live at a maximum of 24 hours equivalent to one day. 

These insects’ sole purpose is to reproduce and hatch eggs. They mate fast to make sure that their existence and the family tree continues. 

6. Labord’s Chameleon: 1 year

Why Animals Have Short Lifespan

This type of lizard can only be found on Madagascar, an island in Africa. Labord’s chameleons only have one year to enjoy their lives. 

Female chameleons give birth every November, and their young ones will be sexually mature by January or February. After that, mating will start. 

After the young generation is ready to hatch in November, all adult labord’s chameleons will die. Yeah, it is indeed fast and sad the life cycle of Labord’s chameleon is. 

7. Gastrotrich: 3 Days

A gastrotrich is a marine freshwater microorganism that lives for only three days. The maximum size of a gastrotrich is three millimeters. They spend their entire three days just floating on the water eating before they die. Gastrotrich can also be eaten by some freshwater fishes. 

8. Hedgehogs: 2-5 Years

animals that has short lifespan hedgehogs

Hedgehogs enjoy living in the woodlands and fields. They are living in Europe, some Asian countries, Africa, and New Zealand. Even though we know that they enjoy living in the woodlands, hedgehogs can also be found in savannas, forests, and deserts. 

Hedgehogs can only grow a maximum size of 10 inches in length. They love to roam at night to hunt for food. Hedgehogs also intentionally meet other hedgehogs during mating season. 

The female hedgehog’s gestation period is only 35 days, which means they can have 4-6 offsprings at a time. After a month, the young ones are kicked out by their mothers because they are independent enough. 

9. Moles: 3 Years

Why Animals Have Short Lifespan

Moles are living in most parts of North America, Europe, and some Asian countries. Moles are small mammals and can be found in your backyard. They are considered pests for some human activities like gardening and farming. Many people want to get rid of moles. 

However, even though they are considered pests, Moles have a good role in ecosystems. They kill other pests like insects and worms, and they provide healthy contributions to the soil and gardens. 

Moles can only live for three years. So if you have no money to get rid of a mole in your backyard, you can just wait for three years.

10. Dogs: 10-13 years

animals that has short lifespan dogs

Dogs are man’s best friends, and they are common pets that can be visible in almost all neighborhoods, countries, and cities. Dogs become a part of human life, and it is sad to know that they can only live with us for only a decade. 

The lifespan of dogs depends on the breed and size of the dog. Big dogs usually live longer than smaller dogs. Some dogs die earlier than ten years, especially if they have unhealthy lifestyles. 

10 Animals With Long Lifespans

There is no way we could talk about animals with short lifespans and not talk about animals that have long lifespans!

The ten animals with long lifespans are:

  • Red Sea Urchins
  • Koi Fishes
  • Longfin Eels
  • Macaws
  • Elephants
  • Whales
  • Sharks
  • Giraffes
  • Giant Tortoise
  • Kakapo

1. Red Sea Urchins: 200 Years

Red sea urchins are mostly close to being immortal. These creatures are living under the Pacific ocean and the West Coast of North America. Red sea urchins live for 200 years.

The red sea urchins can regenerate lost spines. Their role is to maintain the balance between coral and algae. Red sea urchins reproduce using a spawning method where the eggs and sperms are released into the water.

2. Koi Fishes: 25-30 Years

Koi fishes usually live between 25-30 years. However, there are some reports of koi fishes that reach the age of 200 years old. 

The famous koi fish in Japan named Hanako was considered the oldest koi fish. Hanako died in 1977, and her age was 226. Yeah, she was older than other countries like the United States.

3. Longfin Eels: 60 Years

Longfin eels can be found in New Zealand and Australia. They live up to 60 years old, and the oldest eel ever lived was 106 years. Like other animals that have long lifespans, longfin eels grow very slowly. 

4. Macaws: 60-80 Years

Macaws can live up to 60-80 years and can be found in Central America, North America, and South America. They live in forests, especially in rainforests. 

Sadly, due to human occupancy, the majority of macaw birds are now endangered in the wild, and few are already extinct. 

5. Elephants: 40-80 Years

Elephants are plant-eating animals, and they are considered one of the healthiest animals on the planet. Elephants also love to play and move, and it is one reason why they are healthy. 

Elephants usually live from 40-80 years old, depending on what breed it is and the lifestyle. The recorded oldest elephant ever lived was Lin Wang. Lin wang is a Chinese elephant who died at the age of 86 years old.

6. Whales: 40-200 Years

Whales are marine mammals that live under the ocean. They are one of the animals that have a long lifespan. The lifespan of whales depends on its species and lifestyle. 

The species of whale that has an incredibly long lifespan is the bowhead whales. The bowhead whales have an average lifespan of 200 years old! They can be found in the arctic and sub-arctic. 

7. Sharks: 20-100 Years

Sharks are considered one of the scariest animals on the planet because they are carnivores, and they eat humans. Sharks are found under the ocean and arctic oceans. 

They can live up to 100 years, depending on the species and lifestyle of the shark. The oldest shark found is a Greenland shark. According to scientists, Greenland sharks can live up to 200 years old and can potentially live up to 500 years old!

These sharks live long because they grow very slowly. Greenland sharks grow about 1cm per year and reach maturity at 100 years old. 

8. Giraffes: 26 Years

Giraffes are herbivore animals and can be found in savanna areas in Africa. They are also considered as the tallest mammal in the world that reach up to five meters high. 

Giraffes can live up to 26 years old! They are healthy animals because they only eat fruits, vegetables, and plants. The oldest giraffe that has been recorded is Tamu. Tamu died at the age of 32 years old last April 2003. 

9. Giant Tortoise: 80-150 Years

The largest species of tortoise can live until 100 years old. The lifespan of a tortoise also depends on its species and lifestyle. The oldest tortoise alive until now is Jonathan, who is living in St. Helena in the south Atlantic and has age of 187 years old.

10. Kakapo: 95 Years

The Kakapo is a species of parrot which is also known as owl parrot. They can usually be seen in New Zealand, and they live in a wide variety of habitats like tussock lands, scrublands, and coastal areas.

This type of bird can live up to 95 years old. However, the oldest kakapo in the world, Richard Henry, only lived up to 80 years old. Scientists still believe that a kakapo can live 95 years old despite there is no recorded kakapo that lived 95 years. 

Is There Any Animal That Does Not Die?

The short answer to this question is yes! There are animals who are considered immortal and can live for many centuries. The two animals that can live forever are the Hydra and Jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii.

The first animal that can live forever is the Jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii. This small animal can build up again if they are destroyed into pieces by reversing its aging process. This jellyfish can regenerate if they have been hurt, broken, or if they have been torn into pieces. 

The second animal that can live forever is the Hydra. Hydra looks like a polyp stage of jellyfish, which makes sense because they are both included in the phylum Cnidaria. This animal has an easy life because they are just chilling out floating in freshwater ponds, or rivers.

The Hydra’s stem cells are capable of infinite self-renewal or regeneration. Why? Because it has a set of genes called FoxO genes. FoxO genes are found in animals and humans. The role of it is to regulate how long cells will live for. 

The Hydra is abundant on FoxO gene expression that is why they are capable of living for centuries or even forever!

Do Animals Know They Will Die?

Do Animals know they will die? Yes, of course! Animals know that they will die. Every living organism knows! Death is a part of life, and it is inevitable for every living organism on earth. Animals also have feelings and instincts, and they surely know that they will die one day. 

The reason why animals themselves from their predator is to avoid both deaths and being hurt. Animals experience both physical and psychological pain that is why they are aware of death. If one doesn’t know about death, why would they save themselves from dangers?

As I have said above, animals also feel psychological pain like being anxious and getting depressed that can lead to some suicidal behavior. Like humans, animals hate to have psychological distress, and they also think that there is one way to escape this pain, and that is death. 

Final Words

Everything in this world has to come to an end. Even the immortal animal will soon come to an end as well. Death is another part of life, and it is part of nature. It is also totally inevitable. Even humans have a lifespan and will soon die. 

However, there are some ways that every living organism can do to have a longer life. What are the different ways? A good diet, proper exercise, and a healthy lifestyle is one way that both animals and humans can do in order to have a longer life. 


Jake Willhoite
Jake runs AnimalDome.com and has had cats and dogs his entire life. As a kid his family adopted several dogs from the local shelter which set him down the path of animal rescue.
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