It’s no secret that turtles are known to live longer lives than many other pets. Some species of tortoises can live 100 years or more. Several common species of pet water turtles can live into their 40s, though there are many factors that will influence how long your pet turtle lives. Your turtle’s lifespan depends on its species, its diet and other aspects of its environment that you can control.

Turtles and tortoises are some of the most long-lived members of the reptile family. Even small species that are typically kept as pets, like box turtles and terrapins, live between 30 and 40 years if they’re kept healthy. Larger species such as sea turtles are estimated to live about 80 years. The giant tortoise, the largest of all land turtles, typically lives at least a century. Some have even been known to live for more than 200 years!

Turtles are adaptable animals that live in both water and land. These reptiles have been in existence for millions of years and adapt well to any environment. As some live in the oceans, others thrive in freshwater streams and rivers. You might also find turtles living in the open deserts, sea, or even icy areas. In such extreme conditions, they hibernate to endure the cold winters. Where these creatures live and how they breed are dependent on the species they belong to.


Another explanation is that the long lives of turtles and tortoises gives them an evolutionary advantage that aids in effective reproduction. Wild turtles tend to live in harsh environments that aren’t always conducive to breeding. Their long lifespans provide them with more opportunities to procreate. Turtles also have natural protection from predators in their tough shells and thick, armored skin, which, unlike animals that tend to be prey, gives them the luxury of being able to take their time reproducing.


The longest-lived of all the turtle species, the Galapagos giant tortoise, eats a strict vegetarian diet that’s full of greens and free of fat and cholesterol. These slow-moving gentle giants are extremely docile and peace-loving creatures that generally live stress-free lives. This combination of calm and healthy living is likely another explanation for their extreme longevity.

Average Life Spans

Some turtles, such as the Galapagos tortoises (Geochelone nigra), Aldabra tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea) and Seychelles tortoises (Aldabrachelys hololissa), routinely live for more than a century. Smaller species, such as box turtles (Terrapene carolina ssp.) and red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), have wild life spans of 20 to 30 years, though occasional specimens live to be 50 or more. Captive turtles — who are provided with essentially unlimited food, veterinary care and protection from predators — usually live longer than their wild counterparts do.

How Long Do Turtles Live?

According to the Turtle Conservation Society, most turtle species live from 10 to 80 years. But sea turtles and large land tortoises can live to be much older. Their lifespan can be 150 years or more.

As with whales, sharks, and other species, it is often difficult to determine a turtle’s exact age. After all, researchers are not usually present when the animals are born. Some have estimated, however, that large turtles may be able to live 400 to 500 years!

What’s The Average Lifespan Of A Turtle?

Some turtles, including the Aldabra tortoise, Galapagos tortoise, and Seychelles tortoises, often live for more than a century. Small species such as red-eared sliders and box turtles have a wild lifespan of 20 to 30 years, although occasional specimens can live up to 50 years or more. Domesticated turtles, provided with unlimited food, protection from predators, and veterinary care, often live longer than their wild counterparts.

How Long Can A Giant Tortoise Live?

Harriet the Galapagos giant tortoise lived to be 175, and Jonathan the Aldabra Seychelles giant tortoise had reached the age of 189 at the time of publication.

Who Was Lonesome George, And Where Is He Now?

Lonesome George was a male Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii). He was the last known individual of his species, often called “the rarest creature in the world.”

After his island home was devasted by an invasive species, George was moved to another Galapagos Island, Santa Cruz, in 1971. He is estimated to have hatched circa 1910, making him around 101 or 102 years old when he died in 2012. His body was preserved and he remains on display at Galapagos National Park.

How To Tell Your Turtle’s Age

Knowing a turtle’s birthdate is one of the most accurate ways of determining its age since you can easily count the years and months since its birth. Unfortunately, this is also the only way to be truly sure of any turtle’s age. It is the only reliable method since all other methods involve some guesswork.

However, if you already have a turtle and you were not there to witness its birth, this method will not be of much help. Luckily, there are a few ways for you to make informed guesses about your turtle’s age.

How Old Is the Oldest Galapagos Turtle Now Living?

The exact age of most wild Galapagos turtles is unknown. A female Fernandina giant tortoise living at the breeding center on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos is estimated to be more than 100 years old.

Interestingly, the Fernandina giant tortoise was thought to have been extinct for more than a century. The last known individual was seen in 1906. Then, the Fernandina female was discovered in 2019, 115 years later!

Why Do Turtles Live So Long?

Why turtles live so long also tends to be somewhat of a mystery. One element that seems to play a large role, however, is turtles’ relatively slow metabolism, which helps them process things like diseases and aging at a different rate from birds or other domestic pets. It also helps them live for extended periods without food or water.

In turn, turtles are able to enter states of brumation and aestivation, hibernation-like states during hot and cold temperature extremes. During those times, water turtles can live underwater for months without access to oxygen, which some researchers believe plays a key role in how turtles’ bodies are able to process the stress of a decades-long lifespan.

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