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Common and Unique Pets With Long Lifespans

Mychelle Blake
Galapagos giant tortoise

Some pets only stay with their owners for a short time, such as small critters like rats, hamsters and many types of popular aquarium fish. However, if you're looking for pets with long lifespans, there are pets that can live a decade or more. In some cases, these pets can live several decades and require special planning in case you pass before they do.

Cat Lifespan

Cats can live up to 15 years and depending on the breed, up to 20 or older. Breeds that are known to live commonly past 15 years are the Bombay, the Burmese, the Persian, the Ragdoll, the Siamese, and the Sphynx. However, lifespan is not related necessarily to breed. In fact, the oldest cat on record was a mixed breed domestic shorthair named Creme Puff who lived to the age of 38. Lifespan is also related to environment, as the average lifespan of an indoor cat is about 15 to 16 years, whereas outdoor cats have an average lifespan of about six years.

Tabby cat and feet of a person wearing socks with cat designs on it

Dog Lifespan

The average lifespan of a dog is about 13 years. However, lifespan is affected by the size of a dog, with smaller dogs tending to live up to 15 years or more and extra large dogs living around six to eight years. To give an example of the range in ages, an English Bulldog can live about six years, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds around seven years while Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature Poodles and Lhasa Apsos have an average lifespan of 14 years. The dog that has lived the longest on record is an Australian Cattle Dog named Bluey, who was 29 years and five months old when he passed away.

An Australian Cattle Dog mixed-breed dog stands outdoors

Small Pet Lifespans

While some small pets like gerbils and hamsters live only a short time, there are others that can live 10 years or more.

Rabbit Lifespan

Depending on breed, pet rabbits can live anywhere from eight to 12 years. In fact, the oldest living rabbit on record was a bunny named Flopsy in Australia who was at least 18 years old when he passed. Certain breeds tend to live longer than others, with smaller rabbits living longer than larger ones. The Holland Lop, Mini Lop, Angora, Lop and Netherland Dwarf breeds can all live around 12 to 14 years if properly cared for. This means providing them with a large enough cage that is regularly cleaned, a quality diet of pellets and hay, fresh fruits and vegetables and mental and physical enrichment to keep them happy and stress-free.

Rabbit resting

Chinchilla Lifespan

These cute little pets can live between 12 and 20 years, which is quite a lot considering their small size. Chinchillas need proper care in order to live their longest, which means feeding a diet of alfalfa pellets, grass hay and fresh leafy greens. They also need a cage in a temperature controlled area to avoid heat stroke and humidity and hiding boxes and exercise areas in their cages. They also need special dust baths to keep their fur and skin healthy. According to Guinness, the oldest chinchilla, Radar, reached the age of 29.

Chinchilla looking at camera

Sugar Glider Lifespan

Another small pet that has a long lifespan is the Sugar Glider. These tiny marsupials can live up to 12 to 15 years if they get the care they need, though they often don't. Sugar gliders are social animals that will become stressed without the company of other gliders and/or people, and this can lead to physical complications, illness and eventually an early death. They also are difficult to treat medically as few veterinarians are trained in their care, and they are so fragile that they can experience complications from regular exams and treatments that would not be an issue for other small pets. They are also difficult to feed properly, and many have shortened life spans due to malnutrition and death from eating toxic foods.

Baby glider joey on a hand

Pet Bird Lifespans

Birds can be difficult pets to own, particularly the larger parrot species, because they can live for decades. Even some smaller species can easily live until 15 with proper care.

How Long Do Pet Birds Live?

The lifespans of pet birds can vary quite a bit. Larger birds will usually live longer than smaller ones. Some common birds kept as pets and their lifespans are:

Species Average Lifespan
Macaw 30 to 70 years
African grey parrot 25 to 50 years
Amazon parrot 20 to 50 years
Cockatoo 30 to 40 years
Cockatiel 16 to 25 years
Conure 15 to 40 years
Pionus parrot 15 to 30 years
Lorikeet; Parrotlet 15 to 20 years
Parrotlet 15 to 20 years
Parakeet 15 to 18 years
Canary 10 to 25 years
Lovebird 10 to 20 years

Oldest Pet Birds On Record

The oldest recorded cockatoo lived to the age of 82 years and 89 days. Cookie was a Major Mitchell's cockatoo and for a while he also held the world record for oldest parrot ever. However, a green-winged macaw named Poncho at age 92 is now the oldest parrot ever. Another parrot who is believed to have lived longer is a blue-and-gold macaw named Charlie, who is believed to have been 114 when he died. However no records exist to substantiate her age. She's also believed to have been Winston Churchill's pet. Another long-living bird is Fred the cockatoo, who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2014 and is still going strong. He's a resident at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania, Australia.

White cockatoo is eating a small nut

Horse Lifespan

Horses can live about 25 to 30 years with smaller horses tending to live a bit longer than regular-size horses. The oldest living horse on record was a thoroughbred in the United Kingdom named Old Billy who lived to the age of 62. Racing horses tend to live shorter lives because they are at a higher risk of injury, although the oldest racehorse ever, an Australian thoroughbred named Tango Duke, lived to 42. The oldest lived pony was a Shetland-Exmoor gelding in the United Kingdom named Sugar Puff who lived to 56. The key to keeping horses living their longest lives is a mixture of feeding a quality diet using a slow feeder or grazing techniques, keeping them from getting overweight, providing regular exercise and lots of socialization with people and other horses.

Two Horses Kissing

Miniature Pot-Bellied Pig Lifespan

This pet is definitely not for every one but for those people who enjoy pigs, you are looking at an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. However, pot-bellied pigs have been known to live as long as 19 to 20 years. The oldest living pig on record was Ernestine, who lived until she was 23 years old. Keeping a pot bellied pig healthy for a long time requires ensuring they do not become obese, which is a very common problem with this animal. Obesity can lead to joint problems, arthritis and even skin conditions which are their most common medical concerns.

Cute baby piglet on couch

Common Aquarium Fish Lifespans

There are many types of fish you can keep in an aquarium, whether you choose saltwater or freshwater environments. Many fish only live a few years, but there are few that can last a decade or more.

Goldfish Lifespan

Goldfish are often thought of as "throwaway" fish that live a short time. However, this is usually due to them being kept in the wrong conditions that leads to an untimely death. Certain breeds that are well-cared for can actually live 40 years or more. This includes the common and comet goldfish. Fancy goldfish which are known for more decorative and flowing fins live shorter lives, although they can easily reach 10 years with good care. The world's oldest pet goldfish, appropriately named Goldie, lived until 45 years of age.

Sarasa Comet goldfish

Cichlid Lifespan

Cichlids can live from 10 to 20 years depending on the type. The oscar is one of the more popular types of cichlids, and they can easily live to 15 to 20 years. They do have specific care requirements which are necessary for them to live their longest lifespan. This includes a proper diet which consists of commercial fish food supplemented with live food, a tank kept at 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and a high quality filter combined with regular water changes and cleaning.

Cichlids Swimming In Fish Tank At Aquarium

Koi Lifespan

Koi fish are commonly kept outside in ponds and can live up to 100 years or more. Amazingly, Hanako, the oldest living koi fish on record, lived to the age of 226! Most koi live until about 20 to 40 years. Factors that keep a koi from dying early are similar to the care for aquarium fish. They need well-filtered water, a large enough pond for their size and number of fellow fish, and a diet that keeps them from becoming obese and ill. Allowing them to hibernate naturally also can help them live longer.

Water Lily flower with koi fish swinning around it

Pet Reptile Lifespans

While smaller reptiles tend to live shorter lives, which can be around three to 10 years depending on the species, larger ones can live much longer. This should definitely be a consideration when choosing a reptile as a pet.

How Long Can Snakes Live?

There are a few species of snakes commonly kept as pets that can live a long time. The ball python can live from 15 to 20 years, while the boa constrictor can live from 15 to 25 years. Smaller snakes like the king snake and the corn snake can live about 10 to 15 years.

Python regius

How Long Can Lizards Live?

Smaller lizards like the green anole and chameleons live between three to eight years. If you are looking at larger lizards, be prepared for more of a commitment. A green iguana can live between five to 15 years, and a leopard gecko can live between 15 to 20 years. Lizards that live the longest tend to have owners who are able to provide for their environmental needs, which means humidity and temperature kept to species-appropriate levels, as well as a cage that's large enough for the lizard to move about and grow comfortably. Diet is also very important, which often includes a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables and live insects.

A green iguana under the sun at the Carara National Par

How Long Can Turtles Live?

Turtles are another pet that can live to some impressive ages if kept properly. Like other reptiles, size is related to age and smaller turtles will not live quite as long as larger ones. The box turtle can live between 25 to 50 years and the red-eared slider between 30 and 50 years. Tortoises can live longer, with the leopard tortoise living to 50 years or more, the Sulcata tortoise reaching ages of 70 years or more and the giant tortoise reaching 150. Turtles, particularly tortoises, can be difficult animals to keep as they need a large enclosure with specific temperature requirements. Many turtles live shortened lives because they are kept in tanks that are much too small for them and they can quickly become ill and die at an early age.

Box Turtle faces camera with focus on large brown eye

Primate Lifespan

Primates are an exotic pet that are much less commonly owned than other types of pets. For one thing they're not legal in many states, and they require considerable time and expense to keep properly. They also can live for decades, which is another serious drawback to owning them, among others. Two popular pet primates are the capuchin monkey, which can live up to 45 years and the chimpanzee, which can live from 40 to 50 years. Without proper care, they can easily become stressed and develop illnesses through malnutrition and a weakened immune system.

Three White - faced capuchin monkeys on tree

Kinkajou Lifespan

The kinkajou is another exotic pet that is gaining in popularity. Though they look a bit like a monkey, they're actually part of the raccoon family. Kinkajous can live about 20 to 25 years in captivity, but up to 40 years living in the wild. Kinkajous, like primates, are a difficult pet to keep and without a large enough enclosure or cage and the ability to provide a specific diet, they can die at an earlier age. In fact, one only needs to look at the difference between their age in captivity versus in the wild to see the toll that living as a pet can do to their lifespan.

Kinkajou at the Zoo

Keeping Pets That Live a Long Time

There's no reason you shouldn't take in a pet that lives a long life, as long as you are committed to their care for the entirety of their lives. The longer the potential lifespan of your pet, the more you should consider at least having a plan in place for the pet in case something happens to you and you cannot care for it. For example, many parrot owners include instructions for the care of their pet and a designated person to take over for them in their estate planning, and animal sanctuaries that deal with these pets urge owners to do the same. It may be a bit more work and expense on your part, but you'll have peace of mind knowing your long-lived pet will always be cared for and happy.

Common and Unique Pets With Long Lifespans