Tortoises are known for their immense lifespan, with some of the shortest living tortoises being 20 years, right up to some of the longest living tortoises going over 200 years. The shortest living tortoise has near double the lifespan of dogs.
If you are looking to purchase a new tortoise knowing how long it will live should be part of the decision-making. Finding out how long the tortoise you have in mind can put people off owning it. For others, it is all part of the attraction of owning a tortoise but knowing what you are getting into, I feel, is vital.
Most tortoises have relatively long life spans when you compare them to dogs that have an average age of 10-13 years. A 13-year dog would be classed as old; however, some of the most common tortoises we keep as pets 30 years would be considered young.
|Tortoise Species||Life Expectancy|
|Hinge back Tortoise||20 years|
|Pancake Tortoise||35 years|
|Russian (Horsefield) Tortoise||40 – 75 years|
|Indian Star Tortoise||30 – 80 years|
|Radiated Tortoise||40 – 50 years|
|Gopher Tortoise||40 – 60 years|
|Elongated tortoise||50 years|
|Red Footed Tortoise||50 years|
|Yellow Foot Tortoise||50 – 60 years|
|Desert Tortoise||50 – 80 years|
|Burmese Star Tortoise||50 – 100 years|
|Sulcata Tortoise||70 – 80 years|
|Egyptian Tortoise||70 – 100 years|
|Hermann’s Tortoise||75 years|
|Impressed Tortoise||80 – 100 years|
|Leopard Tortoise||80 -100 years|
|Speckled Tortoise||80 – 100 years|
|Galapagos Tortoise||80 – 120 years|
|Marginated Tortoise||100+ years|
|Greek Tortoise||125 years|
|Angonoka Tortoise||188 years|
|Aldabra Tortoise||200+ years|
Most Popular Tortoises
Below I will go into a little more detail on a few key tortoise species. Within these nine tortoises, we give a little more information on covering some of the most popular tortoises that you are likely to have as pets. Russian (Horsefield), Red-Footed, Sulcata, and Hermann’s tortoise are some of the most popular pet tortoises.
Hinge back tortoise
The tortoises which have the shortest lifespan are the poor old Hingeback Tortoise, which usually doesn’t live beyond 20 years. These unique looking tortoises have a long flat shell with a hinge across the carapace’s rear portion.
The hinge back tortoises come from African and have an omnivore diet. The hinge back tortoise diet is mostly made up of leafy vegetables but also includes meat.
Both male and female hinge back tortoises grow to around 22 centimeters and weighing up to 2kg. Adult females have a much smaller tail than their male counterparts.
They are currently banned from being imported but have a “least concern” conservation status, so they shouldn’t be going anywhere soon.
Russian (Horsefield) Tortoise
The Russian Horsfield tortoise is another very popular tortoise for people looking to keep a tortoise as a pet due to how easy they are to keep. They grow to around 18-20 centimeters when at full adultery and weigh around 1-3 pounds. Due to their size, they don’t need as much room to roam and have a hardy nature.
The Russian tortoises have a wide-ranging lifespan between 40-75 years. In the wild, you would look at the lower end, and in captivity, the higher end of the scale; this is down to better living conditions we offer our tortoises as pets.
The Russian tortoise is more commonly known as the horse field tortoise to pet owners around the world. They originate from Central Asia and have a “Vulnerable” conservation status in the wild, but they are very popular in captivity.
Their diet is straightforward to replicate in captivity with feeding some leafy vegetables and leafy weeds. The horse field tortoise is a straightforward animal to look after and happily live outside in the summer months.
Red Footed Tortoise
The Red Footed tortoise originates from northern South America they are becoming more popular as a pet. Down to them, only growing between 30-40 centimeters, this makes them an ideal size pet. Male Red-Footed tortoises are a little bigger than their female counterparts and way up to 9kg.
The Red Footed tortoise has a wildly varying lifespan, but most would estimate a 50-year lifespan.
The Sulcata tortoise’s actual name is the African spurred tortoise that comes out of the Sahara desert in Africa and is classed as the third largest tortoise species. Their growth to a whopping 75 centimeters makes them a difficult pet for most to keep. They also have a whopping weight of between 32-42kg when fully grown.
Sulcata tortoises are not just big in their physical size they have a long lifespan that is estimated to be between 70-80 years.
The Hermann tortoise originates from southern Europe and is one of the most popular tortoises people have as a pet. They are a very hardy tortoise and don’t take as much looking after as some of their counterparts.
There are two subspecies, western Hermann’s and eastern Hermann’s; however, peleponnesica has yet to confirm any genetic difference. A fully grown adult can be between 13-20 centimeters, and it takes around 7-10 years to become fully grown.
Small size in tortoises usually means a shorter lifespan; however, this is not the Hermann tortoise case. It is estimated that this popular pet has a lifespan of up to 75 years; this popular pet is a life comment.
In the wild, they have “endangered” conservation status, but they have “Near Threatened” in captivity due to their popularity.
The Leopard tortoise originates from southern Africa and is in abundance in the wild with a “Least Concern” conservation status. They are kept as pets, but you will need a lot of room due to their 40-50 centimeters growth in adulthood and a whopping weight of 13kg.
If you are thinking of keeping a leopard tortoise as a pet, it is a lifetime commitment as they can live for 80-100 years. Their lifespan in the wild is a little unknown, but the 80-100 year captivity age is usually a little higher than wild tortoises.
The marginated tortoise is the largest native European species of tortoise. They have a “least concern” conservation status; it is an herbivorous tortoise that hibernates for the winter.
They take a little more looking after than other more popular species due to their need for warmer temperatures they require all the time. An adult marginated tortoise can grow up to 35 centimeters and weigh up to 5kg when fully grown.
The marginated tortoise will hibernate during the winter months, and maybe why they have such a long lifespan of 100 years plus.
The marginated looks a little odd than your ordinary looking tortoise with an oblong body and a thick middle of the body.
Greek (Spur-Thighed) Tortoise
The Greek tortoise is becoming an ever more popular pet for people. It is a commitment that you will need to pass onto some as the Greek tortoise can live for 125 years in captivity.
Their adult fully grown size is why most people pick them as a pet, ranging from 18-21 centimeters. The size is a very manageable pet; however, don’t forget that they are more than likely to outlive you.
The Aldabra tortoise is the largest land tortoise that can weigh up to 250kg and live for 200 years plus, and they originate from Aldabra Island, which is in Seychelles.
They have a “Vulnerable” conservation status after being nearly driven to extinction by European sailors’ over-exploitation.
It is very rare to see people keeping an Aldabra tortoise as a pet; there are a small number in captivity but are more likely kept in zoos.
We found out that the Hingeback Tortoise is the shortest living tortoise species, and the Aldabra Tortoise longest living tortoise species.
The general rule for tortoise lifespan is the larger the size of the tortoise, the longer its life. A large tortoise is a lifetime commitment not only to your time but your space. The habitat will need to be large for your tortoise to roam freely.
I hope that this guide was a little fun and help you if you are thinking of getting a tortoise as a pet. A tortoise can be more than a life commitment, and that is something to think about before you welcome your shelly friend to your home.