How Long Can A Softshell Turtle Live?

How Long Can A Softshell Turtle Live

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When you buy or adopt a turtle, you must consider its lifespan. Generally, most of the turtle species have a long life expectancy. So, if you can not be committed to the pet’s caring for so long, you should not take any chance. In this article, we will talk about how long a softshell turtle can live.

The average lifespan of a softshell turtle is around 50 years. Depending on the subspecies, the longevity can be between 11 to 400 years.

If you are wondering about the lifespan of your pet softshell turtle, give this article a quick read. I will also share which factors affect the pets’ life expectancy and how to ensure them a long and healthy life.

The Lifespan Of A Softshell Turtle

In the chart given below, you will find the expected lifespan of different softshell turtle species:

Softshell Turtle SuspeciesExpected Lifespan
Spiny softshel turtle25 to 50 years
African softshell turtle24 to 45 years
Florida softshell turtle20 to 50 years
Chinese softshell turtle25 years
Giant softshell turtle80 to 250 years
Smooth softshell turtle11 to 20 years
Asian giant softshell turtle10 to 20 years
Asiatic softshell turtleOver 30 years
Black softshell turtle50 years
Indian narrow headed softshell turtle70 to 140 years
Yangtze softshell turtle90 to 400 years

I have gathered as much information as I can. Remember, these are the expected lifespan of the softshell turtle subspecies. Your pet turtle can live more or less than these years, depending on its health and care you are offering.

Pet Turtle Lifespan & Size Chart

pet turtle lifespan and size

If you want to get a printable version of this amazing chart, click here!

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What Affects The Life Expectancy Of A Softshell turtle?

Have you ever wondered why some turtles of the same subspecies live longer than the others? There are 3 main factors that directly or indirectly control a softshell turtle’s lifespan. Such as:

  1. Environment
  2. Diet
  3. Health


What environment your softshell turtle is growing affects its life expectancy. The softshell species are freshwater turtles and mostly aquatic. The best way to keep pets happy and healthy is to provide them with clean and hygienic water.

If you raise the softshell turtles in a small, dirty, and dark place, they will fall sick often. And it will eventually reduce the pets’ lifespan. No matter if you are keeping your softshell turtles in an indoor or outdoor habitat, you need to replicate the wild environment.

You can simply create a natural environment inside a tank by installing a water filter, airstone for oxygenation, UV, and heating lights. Also, the softshell turtles are really big. Provide the pet with 75 to 125 gallons or more spacious tanks. The habitat must be big enough for the softshell turtles to swim.


A softshell turtle’s health mostly depends on its diet. How much, how often, and what items you are feeding the pet matters a lot. Like humans, they also need a balanced diet. If you do not provide the pet turtles with a good meal, they can suffer from malnutrition and die early.

Even though the softshell turtles are carnivorous, you can feed it a small portion of vegetation. Feeding the pet too much can make it sick. You can follow the head or 5 to 15 minutes method to guess the ideal food quantity.

If your softshell turtle is at an early age, feed it every day. Switch to every other day schedule as soon as it reaches one year. With the growing age, its appetite will lose, and you can feed it twice or thrice a week. No matter if the softshell turtle is old or young, never compromise with its diet.

See also  How Often Should I Feed My Softshell Turtle?

Here are some items I recommend:

  • Frog
  • Pellet
  • insects
  • Worm
  • Crayfish
  • Snail
  • Cricket
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Grasshopper
  • Large fish
  • Small fish

If you want to learn more about a softshell turtle’s diet schedule and ideal meal quantity, click here.


It is obvious that if your pet softshell turtle is in good health, it will probably live a longer life. On the other hand, an ill turtle may live less than its expected lifespan. Generally, a softshell turtle can suffer from different types of diseases in its lifetime. For example, nutritional, shell, or parasitic diseases.

Here are some severe diseases that can affect your softshell turtle’s life expectancy:

  • Vitamin deficiency: If your pet does not get enough vitamins and minerals from the meals, it will suffer from vitamin deficiency. This can lead to eye problems, mouth infections, etc.
  • Metabolic bone diseases: Bone diseases are serious issues, and in severe cases, it can lead the pet towards death. It happens due to the lack of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Shell problems: Softshell turtles do not have a hard shell. But shell conditions like rotting, white spots are very common to them. Most of the time, these diseases can be cured. If you ignore the condition, your pet has to suffer the consequences.
  • Organ failure: Due to high protein or improper meal, your softshell turtle can have kidney or liver failure. There is nothing you can do to cure this condition, and your pet may live a short life. But keeping it on medication will help him to stay healthier.
  • Parasitic diseases: Your softshell turtle can be infested by parasites due to the dirty habitat. Depending on the condition, it may need to undergo surgery or medications.

Does A Captive Softshell Turtle Live Longer Than A Wild One?

The lifespan of a captive softshell turtle is longer than a wild one. If you look at the factors, you can see why. The wild turtles need to survive fighting with any bad or unbearable weather.

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Again, they can not eat food whenever they want. The wild softshells struggle to prey, and sometimes, they need to fight with the predators. Moreover, they do not get any medication when they fall sick.

The life of a wild softshell turtle is not as easy as the captive ones. They live at the mercy of mother nature. But the lifespan difference between a captive and a wild softshell turtle is not huge. It can be around 5 at max.

How To Ensure Your Softshell Turtle A Long And Healthy Life?

Obviously, there is no guaranteed way to ensure that your pet turtle will live longer. But if you can provide the softshell turtle great care, it will stay healthy and happy. Here are some tips that you can follow:

  • As I have mentioned above, the enclosure is a big deal for the turtles. Make sure the pen is spacious enough for the pets. As the softshell turtles are big, it is better not to house more than one or two of them in the same tank.
  • Softshell turtles are aquatic species and barely come out of the water. If the water is dirty, the pet can suffer from shell diseases and other infections. These conditions affect the pet’s lifespan. So, try to keep the tank water clean as much as possible. The best option for you is to set up a water filter.
  • Temperature is an essential factor for the softshell turtles. If the tank temperature is not suitable for them, they can fall sick. Installing a tank heater will solve your problem.
  • Softshell turtles can not absorb vitamin D3 without UV exposure. That is why you should set up a UV light and heating bulb inside the habitat.
  • Though the softshell turtles spend most of their time underwater, the pets still come to the surface. Make sure the habitat has a land portion.
  • Provide the pet with a balanced diet. No matter if the turtle is adult or young, ensure that it is getting all the nutrition it needs.
  • If you observe signs of any illness, take the softshell turtle to the vet or try home treatment.


Depending on the subspecies, the softshell turtle can live up to 400 years. If you have one in your home, take great care of it. Proper diet and habitat can make the softshell life up to its expected lifespan or more.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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