What is the lifespan of a turtle?

Written by Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok

Dr. Chen is the co-founder of Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia. She currently heads the community-based River Terrapin Conservation Project in Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia.

26 Oct 2009

The lifespan of a turtle varies greatly depending on the species of turtle.

For example, a typical pet turtle can live between 10 and 80 years or so while larger species can easily live over 100 years. Sea turtles typically live between 30 and 50 years, and some anecdotal record show that they could live up to 150 years.

At the time of Harriet the Turtle’s death in 2006, she was the oldest known animal in the world. The giant Galapagos land tortoise, which weighed 150 kilograms, had been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living chelonian. She died at the age of 175, at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, Australia, where she was the star attraction.

Scientists though are still unsure how old some turtles get, especially endemic species such as the Galapagos tortoise that have lived for years in isolation. It is difficult to measure the age of turtles for obvious reasons but some guess that turtles could be around for 400 to 500 years old!

Here’s a comparison of lifespan between selected animals:

Elephant: 69 years
Catfish: 60 years
Horse: 50 years
Chimpanzee: 40 years
Toad: 36 years
Lion: 30 years
Tiger: 25 years

[Image of Harriet the Turtle © GuideYourPet.com]

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