Animals With The Shortest Lifespans


Many factors determine the lifespan of an animal — habitat, food sources (and availability), the animal’s size and its ability to protect itself from predators. Longevity often depends on the age the animal reaches sexual maturity. The Greenland shark has a lifespan of 500-plus years, but they mate later in life, which accounts for why they are one of the longest living animals on the planet.

There is a large variation in lifespans in the animal kingdom, and some critters go through multiple stages of development that prolong life. But others are not so fortunate. Here are some amazing animals with the shortest lifespans, ranging from a few years to a few hours.


  • Size: 4 inches to 9 feet
  • Location: Worldwide
  • Lifespan: 1-8 years

At birth, the earthworm is fully formed except for its sex structure, which is formed 60 to 90 days later. The earthworm can live up to eight years in the wild, but the typical garden varieties only live one to two years.

The earthworm plays a role in the ecosystem by decomposing organic matter and tilling the soil. However, the worm is also considered an invasive species. It has a voracious appetite that is good and bad for the environment.

Green Anole

  • Size: 8 inches
  • Location: U.S. and the Caribbean
  • Lifespan: 4-7 years

These small lizards make good pets for beginners because they’re easy to take care of and relatively inexpensive to raise. The anole is an active lizard, but males can become territorial if threatened. Consistent handling is key to keeping them socialized.

Guinea Pig (Tie)

  • Size: 7.9-16 inches
  • Location: Andes of South America
  • Lifespan: 4-6 years

The guinea pig is a rodent species and not at all related to pigs, despite its name. They were initially domesticated as livestock before they were considered as family pets. Guinea pigs do not do well in the wild and have much longer lifespans when kept in captivity — sometimes living up to eight years.

Hedgehog (Tie)

  • Size: 6-8 inches
  • Location: Africa, Asia, Europe and New Zealand
  • Lifespan: 4-6 years

These cute little insect-eating mammals thrive well in captivity and are sociable when handled daily. If a hedgehog feels threatened, it will curl up in a ball with its spiny quills facing outward for protection. They are nocturnal creatures who are quite noisy at night and best suited for pet owners who are not light sleepers.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

  • Size: 3-3.5 inches
  • Location: Central America, U.S. and Canada
  • Lifespan: 3-4 years

The ruby-throated hummingbird lives on the nectar of flowers and sometimes tree sap or insects. Their nests are usually 10 to 40 feet above the ground and only the size of a large thimble! Females have a clutch size of one to three eggs, with an incubation time of 12 to 14 days and an 18- to 22-day nesting period.


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