Tortoises are known to be one of the longest-living animals on the planet. So, exactly how long can a tortoise live?
In most cases, a tortoise lives between 50 – 100 years. But this range does not represent all the species. For example, giant tortoises can cross 200 years, while a few species, like the impressed tortoise, live only for 7 years.
Which tortoise has the longest lifespan? How to make these pets live longer? Find out in the article below.
Tortoise Lifespan: An Overview
|Tortoise Species||Average Lifespan|
|Hermann’s Tortoise||50 – 100 years|
|Sulcata Tortoise/ African Spurred Tortoise||50 – 150 years|
|Leopard Tortoise||50 – 100 years|
|Greek Tortoise||50++ years|
|Russian Tortoise||40 – 50 years|
|Marginated Tortoise||About 100 years|
|Red Footed Tortoise||20 – 50 years|
|Indian Star Tortoise||25 – 80 years|
|Gopher Tortoise||40 – 80 years|
|Aldabra Giant Tortoise||80 – 120 years|
|Egyptian Tortoise||50 years|
|Radiated Tortoise||30 – 80 years|
|Burmese Star Tortoise||50 – 100 years|
|Elongated Tortoise||Up to 50 years|
|Yellow Footed Tortroise||50 years|
|Ploughshare Tortoise||Over 100 years|
|Bell’s Hinge Back Tortoise||20 – 25 years|
|Asian Forest Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Speckled Cape Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Speke’s Hinge Back Tortoise||25 – 60 years|
|Impressed Tortoise||7 years|
|Pancake Tortoise||25 – 35 years|
|Sonoran Desert Tortoise||Up To 90 years|
|Floreana Giant Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Geometric Tortoise||Over 30 years|
|Seychelles Giant Tortoise||Up To 200 years|
|Texas Tortoise||60 – 70 years|
|Bolson Tortoise||Over 80 years|
|Tent Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Natal Hinge Back Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Lobatse Hinge Back Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Flat Backed Spider Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Chaco Tortoise||20 – 25 years|
|Spider Tortoise||More than 70 years|
|Forest Hinge Back Tortoise||Not Enought Information Avilable|
|Home Hinge Back Tortoise||More than 50 years|
|Travencore Tortoise||30 – 35 years|
Tortoise Lifespan: How Long Can A Tortoise Live?
Hermann’s tortoise enjoys a lifespan of at least 30 – 50 years. Most of the tortoises of this species have 60 – 90 years of longevity, and with great care, they can even cross 100 years.
However, some sources claim that Hermann’s tortoises can live up to 600 years. I know the lifespan sounds like a brag. But tortoises can actually live for centuries. So, you can not say whether those reports are true or a hoax.
Sulcata Tortoise/ African Spurred Tortoise
The Sulcata tortoise has a life expectancy of 50 – 150 years. However, the average lifespan of this species in captivity is 54.3 years. The oldest Sulcata tortoise ever captured was only 54 years old.
Do you know how to make a Sulcata tortoise live longer? This article includes all the secret tips for a better style of a Sulcata tortoise.
A healthy leopard tortoise lives between 50 – 100 years. In captivity, the species has average longevity of 30 – 75 years. The leopard tortoise can get very big, and its growth slows down after reaching sexual maturity at 12 – 15 years.
There is no exact answer to how long a Greek tortoise lives. Some sources suggest that Greek tortoises have a life expectancy of up to 200 years. In fact, Ibera Greek tortoises reportedly live for 125 years.
However, as per some reports, Greek tortoises have a lifespan of only 20 – 50 years. Also, the wild ones can not live past 20.
Hence, it is safer to consider the average longevity of the Greek tortoises above 50.
A well-cared Russian tortoise lives for 40 – 50 years. According to some reports, the species can easily live up to 100 years.
However, according to some sources, the life expectancy of this species in the wild is 8 years. Again, in captivity, their longevity is 15 – 16 years.
Marginated tortoises have a longer lifespan than most other tortoise species. The experts suggest that a healthy adult marginated tortoise can live for 20 to 100 years. In fact, some marginated tortoises have 100 – 150 years of longevity.
Red Footed Tortoise
A red-footed tortoise has an average lifespan of 20 – 50 years. With great care and attention, this species can cross its 50s.
Indian Star Tortoise
The Indian star tortoises live for 35 – 80 years on average in the wild. Unlike most species, these tortoises do not enjoy a long lifespan in captivity. Reportedly, a captive Indian star tortoise lives around 25 years.
Gopher tortoises enjoy a lifespan of 40 – 80 years in the wild. In captivity, these tortoises live more than 100 years because of access to care.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise
According to many sources, an Aldabra giant tortoise lives 80 – 255 years. Though it sounds unbelievable, this species can easily cross 200 years. The average lifespan of these Aldabra giant tortoises is 80 – 120 years.
The average lifespan of an Egyptian tortoise is 50 years. So, this species can easily live for 70 – 100 years in captivity.
On average, a radiated tortoise will live for 30 to 80 years. The oldest radiated tortoise ever recorded is 188 years. However, there are speculations about the validation of this fact.
Burmese Star Tortoise
Burmese star tortoises are hardy and can live between 50 – 100 years. Some tortoises of this species can cross 100 with proper care.
The healthy elongated tortoises live up to 50 years in captivity. Surprisingly, the species has the same lifespan in the wild.
Yellow Footed Tortoise
A yellow footed tortoise exceeds 50 years for sure. If you follow a quality care sheet, the species can even touch the 60s.
Ploughshare Tortoise/ Angonoka Tortoise
Anogonoka tortoise has average longevity of 40 – 50 years in the wild. However, when in captivity, these tortoises live beyond 100 years. Some sources claim that these creatures can live up to 400 years.
The oldest Anogonoka tortoise ever recorded is 78 years old.
Bell’s Hinge Back Tortoise
The reported lifespan of Bell’s hinge back tortoises is 20 – 25 years. But there is news of these creatures living up to 50 years.
Asian Forest Tortoise
There is no available information on the lifespan of Asian forest tortoises. Some sources say these tortoises live up to 150 years, while others claim them to have a longevity of 400 years.
Speckled Cape Tortoise
The actual life expectancy of the speckled cape tortoise is unknown. But it is guessed that the species has a long lifespan of more than 80 – 100 years.
Speke’s Hinge Back Tortoise
Speke’s hinge back tortoise enjoys moderate longevity of 25 – 60 years. Some tortoises can cross their 60s, but that is unusual.
There is little information available on the lifespan of the impressed tortoise. According to sources, this species lives 7 years in captivity.
The African pancake tortoises live 25 – 35 years in captivity. Usually, tortoises live fewer years in the wild due to the lack of care and harsh surroundings.
Sonoran Desert Tortoise
Sonoran desert tortoises live 90 years of life in captive care. But in the wild, these tortoises have 30 – 50 years of longevity.
Floreana Giant Tortoise
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find enough data on the Floreana giant tortoise’s life expectancy.
Geometric tortoises can live more than 30 years. These tortoises gain sexual maturity within 12 years and start reproducing at a young age.
Seychelles tortoises are long living. As per records, these tortoises can live up to 200 years. However, their average lifespan is 80 – 120 years.
Texas Tortoises live 60 – 70 years in captivity. These species reach their sexual maturity at 15 years.
The Bolson tortoise has a lifespan of over 80 years. Considering the longevity of other species, the Bolson tortoises are long-living creatures.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find enough data on the tent tortoise’s life expectancy.
Natal Hinge Back Tortoise
The Natal hinge back tortoises live in the deep wild. So, there is not enough information on their life expectancy.
Lobatse Hinge Back Tortoise
We can not guess the Lobatse hinge back tortoise’s lifespan due to the lack of information.
Flat Backed Spider Tortoise
The longevity of the flat backed spider tortoise is still unknown to us.
Chaco tortoises live up to 20 – 25 years in the wild. Hence, more years will be added to their captive longevity.
Though people mistake flat backed spider tortoises for spider tortoises, both are different species. The spider tortoises have a lifespan of 70 years.
Forest Hinge Back Tortoise
There is not enough data available to guess the lifespan of a forest hinge back tortoise.
Home Hinge Back Tortoise
Home hinge back tortoises live more than 50 years.
Travancore tortoises can live more than 30 years. The oldest Travancore tortoise in captivity is 32.9 years.
Why Do Tortoises Live So Long?
The lifespan of a tortoise depends primarily on its subspecies. While some tortoise species live 30 years, many of them have a longevity of over 100 years.
But if you consider the overall life expectancy of tortoises, they live longer than many other animals on the planet. Have you ever thought about why tortoises live so long?
Well, there is not one particular answer to this question. But we can point out multiple factors behind the tortoises’ long life expectancy. Such as,
1. Slow Metabolism
Apparently, the slow metabolism of the tortoises helps them live longer. Though there is no strong evidence to back up this statement, it is an educated guess from the experts.
See, tortoises can slow down their heart rate, oxygen consumption, and activity level, depending on the weather. Because of the slow down metabolism, tortoise cells stay intact for the longest time. As a result, these creatures live longer.
So, a tortoise with slower metabolism should live longer.
Compared to tortoises, humans have a fast metabolism. Hence why we do not live for centuries.
According to another belief, the bigger size benefits the tortoises with a longer lifespan. Like the previous factor, this one is also an educated guess. However, if you go through the size and lifespan chart of different tortoises, you will clearly notice the links.
I think the bigger tortoises live longer as they can save themselves better. For example, the predators do not go after the big tortoises. Instead, they look for a small one, which can be easily turned into a feast.
3. Delayed Reproduction
The delayed reproduction is definitely a reason why tortoises live so long.
See, tortoises in the wild are busy arranging their meals. So, reproduction is the last thing on their mind.
Most tortoises gain sexual maturity at the age 5 – 7 or by 15. Even after becoming sexually active, tortoises are in no rush to increase their population. Even if you look at the numbers, only 1% of the tortoise egg clutches actually make it to adulthood.
Simply speaking, delayed reproduction, fewer populations, and longer lifespans are the result of evolution.
Tortoises live in locations where they can flourish flawlessly. It helps them live longer.
5. Self Defense Mechanism
Tortoises are not the fastest runner, for sure. But when under attack, they do not have to run. Instead, they can easily hide in their shells and avoid the situation.
While most wild animals are exposed to predators, tortoises are born with defence mechanisms. Scientists suggest that these shells can carry 200x the weight of their own. Can you imagine how strong the tortoise shells are?
As tortoises can avoid predatorial attacks more easily, they have higher chances of living longer.
6. Healthy Lifestyle
Tortoises are herbivorores. Their diet includes mainly grass, hay, vegetables and fruits. Because of this healthy and green diet, tortoises are blessed with a long life expectancy.
7. Chilled Guy
Stressing is never good. Your life gets complicated and stressful when you start socializing. This is true for the tortoises too!
But fortunately, tortoises are not the friendliest creatures. In fact, these reptiles prefer living alone. Hence, they are away from the power game and live a healthy, long life.
How To Make Your Tortoise Live Longer?
You know why a tortoise and a turtle live so long. Yes, external factors play a key role in their extended longevity. However, proper care and attention to these creatures can also help achieve a long life expectancy in captivity.
Here is how you can make your tortoise live longer,
1. Feed The Tortoise An Appropriate Diet
Tortoise’s diet has no similarity to the turtles’. While most turtles are omnivorous, tortoises live on greens.
The meal chart of most tortoises includes the following safe items,
- Aloe vera
- Cactus pads
- Butter lettuce
- Collard greens
- Edible flowers
- Hedge mustard
- Sea holly
- Sow thistle
- Sweet potato
- Alfalfa hay
- Oat hay
- Rye hay
- Oat hay
- Meadow hay
- Timothy hay
- Bermuda grass, etc.
So, the tortoises basically survive on grass and vegetables. Most species do not ingest any animal protein. Hence, make sure their meals are all green. Besides, these creatures need supplements in captivity to back up any mineral deficiency.
Again, you have to follow an ideal routine to feed the tortoises. For example, a healthy tortoise requires feeding only 5 days a week.
Drafting a tortoise’s meal plan is challenging. Considering this, I have made a detailed guide on the tortoise’s feeding habits. You can check the article from this link. Also, if you have a baby tortoise, go with this write-up.
2. Proper Habitat Set Up
In the wild, mother nature provides the tortoise with everything. But in captivity, you have to put together everything to replicate the wild touch in the enclosure. If the habitat lacks anything, it can affect the pet’s lifespan.
Hence, ensure that the pen includes the following supplies,
- A spacious hole or a dog house
- A spacious yard
- A shallow water source for drinking and bathing
- UV lamp
- Heating lamp, etc.
Remember, direct sunlight is mandatory for tortoises. If you raise the pet in an outdoor habitat, you do not have to worry about that. However, in the case of an indoor enclosure, install a quality UV and heating light.
3. Keep The Pen Clean
Though tortoises are hardy creatures, they can not stand filthy enclosures. Again, a dirty environment can entice bacterial growth, causing the pets to have infectious diseases. Hence, you have to focus on the cleanliness of the habitat too.
4. Do Not Stress The Pet
Stressing the tortoise can impact its lifespan. The scarcity of food, congested space, frequent touch, no medical care, etc., make the tortoise anxious. As an owner, you should make sure that the pet is not stressed or scared in any situation.
5. Medical Emergency
The captive tortoises have access to medical care. It is a primary reason why they live longer than wild tortoises.
You must take your tortoise for a regular medical check-up to keep it in good health. Only then can the pet enjoy a long lifespan.
Life Cycle Of A Tortoise’s Life
We can divide the life cycle of a tortoise into 4 major stages. Such as,
- Nesting: The life of a tortoise starts as an egg. During the nesting season, the gravid tortoises lay eggs and leave the spot.
- Hatchling: The babies come out of the eggs within 90 days. The hatchlings are most sensitive to the environment.
- Juvenile: During this stage, the tortoises focus on their growth.
- Adulthood: Tortoises consider mating and growing their population at this point of their life.
How To Tell The Age Of A Tortoise?
It is nearly impossible to tell the age of a tortoise from its appearance. Unless you have marked the birth date of a tortoise, there is no way you can say its exact age.
However, cheat methods can give you an educated guess of the tortoise’s age. But those are not reliable. For example,
- Comparing the growth chart
- Counting the growth ring
How do these techniques work? Read my previous article for details.
The average lifespan of tortoises is 50 – 100 years. While many species live for centuries, some can only reach the 30s. Thus, the tortoises’ longevity depends on the subspecies and care available to the creatures.