Tortoise Lifespan: How Long Do Tortoises Live? (Pets & Wild)

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how long do tortoises live? Pet tortoises are one of the coolest pets you can have in your home.

They can live anywhere between 50 to 100 years They are cute, and quiet, and don’t shed fur like other pets. However, the tortoise has a very long life span.

So, if you want to have a tortoise as a pet, prepare yourself for a lifetime commitment.

It’s not a surprise that the pet might even outlive you. You better start making plans for the care of your pet tortoise even when you are old or when you’re gone.

So how long will your tortoise live? Let’s first look at some of the popular tortoise species you can keep as pets.

Lifespans of Different Tortoise Species

There are many different species of tortoises, so you may be curious to know how this affects their different life spans.

speciesAverage life expectancy
Russian/Horsefield Tortoise50 – 70 Years
Mediterranean Spur-Thighed TortoisesUp to 50 years
Red-Footed TortoiseUp to 50 years
Leopard TortoiseUp to 100 years
Indian Star Tortoise30 – 80 years
African Spur-Thighed TortoiseUp to 70 years

Russian/Horsefield Tortoise

female russian tortoise with her son

The Russian tortoise, sometimes known as the Horsfield tortoise is the most common tortoise breed that is kept as a pet.

This tortoise is native to the Mediterranean and Eurasia.

Horsefield tortoises are a popular choice for beginners and are commonly stocked in pet stores as they will only grow to around 6 to 8 inches/15-20 cm and so are easy to house and care for.

They have a wonderful If cared for properly these tortoises will live to around 50 to 75 years.

Mediterranean Spur-Thighed Tortoises

Mediterranean spur-thighed tortoise is one of the most popular pet tortoises you can keep in your home.

It’s easy to take care of them and can make the ultimate pets. They are among the small species of tortoise which makes them easy to handle and keep.

They are very active pets. They love interacting with their keepers, spending time outside in the sun, and exploring their enclosures. They can live up to 50 years.

Red-Footed Tortoise

red footed tortoise walking on a rock

Red-footed tortoise is a popular species in South America.

They have stunning markings that make them cute and attractive.

They love a humid environment, and they need more protein in their diet than other species.

They like to explore what is happening around them and are usually very friendly. They also have a life span of 50 years.

Leopard Tortoise

A young leopard tortoise following its mother

The Leopard tortoise is a famous pet tortoise due to its larger size and stunning marks.

If you want a bigger tortoise for a pet, you would want to check this one. They love interacting with their keeper, and during summer, they enjoy spending most of their time outside.

As opposed to other species, the leopard tortoise doesn’t hibernate. Therefore, you can interact with them throughout the year.

Leopard tortoise has a lifespan of 100 years.

Indian Star Tortoise

indian star tortoise

Indian star tortoises are quite attractive because of their beautiful markings.

However, most people regard them as delicate to handle. But with the right environmental setup, they can be easy to care for as any other species.

They rarely hibernate, and therefore you can enjoy their company all through the year.

They can be shy when you come into contact with them for the first time.

However, as time goes on, they become less shy, especially during feeding hours.

They can live anywhere from 30 to 80 years.

African Spur-Thighed Tortoise

Sulcata Tortoise walking

African spur-thighed tortoise is the third-largest type of species you can keep captive in your home.

They can grow up to 37 inches in length. When they are young, they tend to be shy.

However, as they approach adulthood, they become less shy and more interactive. They do not need hibernating.

Hence you can interact with them throughout the year. African spur-thighed tortoises can live for more than 70 years.

Why Does a Tortoise Live Such a Long Life?

The answer to this question is elusive.

It’s hard to measure the exact lifespan of a tortoise. However, as stated earlier, a tortoise can live up to 100 years.

But their lifespan depends on several factors, including the tortoise species. Certainly, not all tortoise has an equal lifespan.

But with proper care, all types of tortoises can live longer than they can in the wild.

So, you need to learn all the factors that determine their life duration.

Such information will help you know some valuable tips for caring for your pet tortoise to ensure they live long enough.

How Does Tortoise Manage to Live so Long?

The answer to this question is wired into the tortoise’s DNA.

These creatures are created to last long. You will agree that not many animals can live for long as they do, and that includes humans.

So, what special thing do these animals have that helps them live for such long?

Delayed and Pronged Reproduction

When it comes to the tortoise, things are a little bit slower than in humans or other animals.

Firstly, the tortoise grows at a slow pace. This feature is incredibly rare for most pets. Most tortoise species reach sexual maturity when they are 20 years and more.

In comparison with other common pets, a dog can start reproducing when it’s only six months. Similarly, a rabbit starts reproducing as early as four months.

So, how is their delayed reproduction related to their lifespan? There is only one answer. Babies.

Different species of animals out there, such as rabbits and birds, are naturally created to have a lot of babies since they have a lot of predators.

So, the earlier they start reproducing, the higher the likelihood of managing adulthood to keep the genetic line.

On the other hand, some animals have fewer predators and have a means of protecting themselves.

So, they will spend their energy living and not giving birth. Therefore, they don’t need to start reproducing when they are young or have many babies since they will live for a very long time. Such animals include tortoises.

Additionally, the tortoise has a shell, which is an effective means of defense.

They know that their predators cannot hurt or kill them as compared to other animals which have weaker defenses.

Knowing that they can live for a long, they are never in a rush. They can reproduce even after a decade.

Their Size

Size may not be the main factor in determining how long a tortoise lives. But in general, the bigger the animal, the longer it can manage to live.

a man size compare to a full grown sulcata tortoise

When it comes to a tortoise, the rule is the same. The longest-living tortoise breeds are the huge ones.

That means that the size of your pet tortoise will determine how long it will live.

However, just because your pet tortoise is big does not guarantee that it will live for centuries.

The tortoise will need safe life, plenty of food, and an excellent environment to encourage growth.

If you keep your tortoise in a terrible and bacteria-landed place, it won’t grow bigger or live for long.

Your Location Affects the Lifespan of a Tortoise

According to scientific studies, where you stay can affect your life span.

Tortoise is not an exception. But the funny thing with tortoises, as opposed to humans, is that they utilize the environment they are into their advantage.

For instance, species that are kept in a harsh living environment may have a hard time dealing with it.

However, they will try to delay their breeding waiting for the optimal breeding environment to come such right temperature, weather, and moisture. Thus, this makes them live longer.

On the other hand, species that live in a favorable and isolated environment tend to have fewer predators. So, they have nothing to fear.

They will be free from pollination and all kinds of threats. They will be able to live long and leisurely for centuries.

Slow Metabolism

As stated earlier, things with tortoises are quite slower.

They have a slow metabolism, which contributes to their longevity. The main tortoise diet is plant matter.

However, the animal is unable to digest it faster than other animals. So, it slowly digests the food over an extended period.

This characteristic works in favor of a tortoise. They use their slow metabolism to their advantage.

They can hibernate and sleep for months without the need of eating. This habit explains why a pet tortoise can live for so long.

Also, low metabolism allows the animal to burn energy at a lower rate than other fast animals. Therefore, this means that this slow rate consumes less energy.

The tortoise can preserve a lot of energy without overworking its internal organs.

So, they are less likely to destroy their cells, which explains why they can hang around longer than other common pets.

Shell Protection

Most animals don’t die because of natural causes.

The major reasons mostly include accidents and predators. That’s why most vulnerable animals don’t manage to make it for long.

However, the case of tortoise is quite different. They use their shells as a defense mechanism.

The hard shell is very beneficial to a tortoise and protects it from significant causes of death.

Tortoise Shell Close up

With the shell, a tortoise is less likely to succumb to accidents or predator attacks.

Also, the shell protects the tortoise from unfavorable environmental conditions such as cold temperatures and rain.

So, the animal will not get sick easily as opposed to other animals. Therefore, it will manage to live for a long with good health.

They are Herbivores

Herbivore species tend to live longer than carnivores.

Meat is usually associated with the risks of diseases and illness. Unlike other species, tortoises feed on plant matter.

Vegetables are often natural and free from contamination. Thus, this reduces any chances of diseases, allowing the animal to live a long and healthy life.

How Can You Help Your Pet Tortoise Live Longer?

How you treat your tortoise will affect its lifespan.

It’s your job to ensure that your pet has a perfect life like any other member of your family.

Here are various things that can help your pet tortoise live long.


Just like humans, diet is crucial in determining the life span of a tortoise.

Ensure you feed your pet with a proper diet to help it live long. Tortoise is a herbivore. So, make sure you keep veggies all the time. You can feed it with fruits, but do it in moderation.

It might cause obesity, which is very risky for the tortoise. A proper diet will always keep the animal healthy and help it live long.


You wouldn’t want to sit on your waste the whole.

Your tortoise would not want it either. Hygiene is essential when it comes to your tortoise’s health.

Leaving droppings, old foods, and urinating in your pet’s cage can invite harmful bacteria into the residence.

If your tortoise gets salmonella on its skin or shell, it becomes tough to get rid of it. So, it’s your responsibility to ensure the bacteria does not affect your pet and yourself too.

tortoise eating

Ensure you clean the tortoise cage more often. If it’s smelling, you have delayed enough.

You do not need to do the cleaning daily, but it’s good you do it as regularly as you can.

You can do it at least twice a week to ensure your pet is healthy and clean.

Sunshine and Air

Tortoise needs sunshine and air. Just like humans, tortoise needs sunlight for vitamin D.

Don’t keep the animal in the house for centuries without taking it out for sunshine.

You may choose natural sunlight or an artificial sunlamp in your tortoise enclosure for it to bask under it. Apart from vitamin D, the sun helps your pet tortoise to relax perfectly.

Fresh air is also suitable for your tortoise. Keeping the animal enclosed in its murky and swampy cage will make it old fast.

The air can become unappealing and stagnant and cause stress and depression. Tortoise also gets depressed. Fresh air will bring something new and exciting.

Keep Your Tortoise From Stress

A tortoise can be scared very easily. Once the pet is frightened, it becomes stressful.

Tortoise is not good at handling stress. So keep all scary staff away from its enclosure to reduce stress. Tortoises with stress will hide a lot.

It will remain on its shelf and will spend little time with its neck relaxed. At some point, it may even stop eating is risky.

Also, keep your pet tort away from noisy areas. Keep it in a calm and relaxed environment to keep it happy.

Factors That Can Reduce Your Tortoise Life Span

Several things can kill your pet tortoise. Some of the most common ones include;

Malnutrition or starvation

Malnutrition or starvation is the saddest of all.

If you don’t feed your tortoise or at least feed it with the right diet, you may end up killing it.

Just like any pet in your home, don’t forget to feed your pet tortoise more often.


Injury can be another cause of tortoise death. Injuries mostly occur due to mishandling your pet.

Avoid picking them every time unless it’s essential. How long a tortoise lives is contributed to your proper care and vigilance.

Ensure their enclosures are safe and never let little kids handle them. They may accidentally injure them.

Diseases and illness

Diseases are significant tortoises killers. Diseases and illnesses come from poor food choices, inadequate sanitation, and poor ventilation.

Infected bedding and hands may also cause them. Ensure you carry diligent care to ensure your tortoise does not fall at risk of illness.

Maintain proper sanitation for both environment and food.

Harsh Environment

Where you place your pet can affect It. Just like any other pet, a tortoise deserves a favorable environment.

If you put the tortoise in a freezing climate, you may end up killing it. On the other hand, if you place it in an extremely hot temperate, you may affect it too.

So, ensure its sleeping place and feeding areas are warm enough to create a favorable environment for your pet.

If possible, bring a sunlamp once in a while to keep the animal warm.

If My Tortoise Develops a Problem

You should take your pet tortoise to a vet when it has a problem.

Like other common pets, the tortoise may also need vet assistance once in a while. So, if you suspect the pet is undergoing a particular problem, call an animal doctor to check it.

However, most tortoise problems are usually rare especially if you keep it in the right setup
All in all, a tortoise makes a beautiful pet that you can have in your home.

They are easy to care for and stunning, and their feeding program is not complicated. They only need veggies, and they are good to go.

As we have seen, most pet tortoises can live up to 100 years. So, before you decide to get one, you should keep this in mind.

You have to understand that once you bring the tortoise in, you are going to commit to it as a part of your family. Create a good environment where it will for the next 70 years.

Most people prefer buying pet tortoises when they are young. So, you have to plan for its future too. In everything you do, you have to put in mind that your pet will grow bigger someday.

So, start by building a bigger enclosure that will be enough for it in the future as well as its young ones. Learn to take care of your pet tortoise. How long tortoise lives rely on the attention of the keeper.

Check on its diet, and sanitation, ensure it’s not stressed up, and regularly take it out for sunlight and air. Treat it as a member of your family.

Play with it sometimes and don’t starve it. Tortoise loves it when you show love and compassion to them.

If it has a health problem, perhaps an accident or a disease, don’t hesitate to call a vet t check it out.

You will be surprised how it can make a long-life companion for you and your family members.

About the Author
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Chafik Abderrahman is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

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