Do You Want a Pet That Lives a Long Time?
This is a question you should consider seriously before you adopt any animal. Getting a pet is not a light decision to make, so you’ll need to be very realistic about how much time you can commit.
When choosing a pet, it’s smart to consider how long it will likely live. Look at the list below to see the average lifespans of common pets.
How Long Do Pets Live?
|Type of Pet||Average Life Expectancy (In Captivity)||Additional Info|
|Small Dog (under 20 lbs)||13 years||Chihuahuas often live 12-20 years.|
|Medium Dog (20-89 lbs)||11 years||An Australian cattle dog holds the record of oldest dog at 29 years.|
|Large Dog (over 90 lbs)||8 years||Spayed or neutered dogs live longer.|
|Indoor-Only Cat||12-18 years||The oldest recorded cat lived to be 28 years old!|
|Cat Who Lives Outside All the Time||2-5 years||Outdoor cats are more exposed to illness and accident.|
|Goldfish||5-10 years||The oldest captive goldfish lived 43 years!|
|Betta Fish||2 years||The world’s oldest specimen is 10 years old.|
|Neon Tetra||5 years||A ten-year-old tetra is not uncommon. In general, larger types of fish have longer life expectancies than smaller types.|
|Koi||25-35 years||The oldest koi on record lived 226 years!|
|Budgie/Parakeet||5-8 years||Budgies are prone to tumors. The oldest lived 29 years.|
|Cockatiel||16-25 years||The oldest recorded cockatiel lived 36 years.|
|Large Parrot||Macaws: 50 years Cockatoos: 65 years||One cockatoo lived 82 years. Charlie, a blue macaw born in 1899, is still alive!|
|Hamster||2-3 years||The oldest hamster on record lived 4.5 years.|
|Guinea Pig||4-8 years||14 years is the longest recorded lifespan.|
|Rabbit or Bunny||7-10 years||Oldest rabbit lived 14 years. Larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans than smaller ones, and those that live outside die sooner.|
|Rat||2 years||Wild and store-bought “feeder” rats tend to die sooner than “fancy” types. Oldest lived 7 years.|
|Mouse||1-2 years||Mice are social and live longer with other mice. The oldest specimen lived almost 5 years!|
|Ferret||5-9 years||Oldest ferrets live from 14 to 15 years. If you wait until the ferret is mature to spay/neuter, the animal may live longer.|
|Snake||9 years average. Largest types can live up to 40 years.||Some snakes fare better in the wild than in captivity. One ball python lived 48 years.|
|Lizard||Smallest live 3-5 years; Largest live up to 20.||Many lizards live longer in the wild. Oldest bearded dragon lived 14 years; the oldest tuarara lived over 100 years.|
|Gecko||6-10 years||Males tend to outlive females. The oldest captive leopard gecko lived to 27. Geckos may live longer in the wild.|
|Turtle/Tortoise||40-50 years||Many captive turtles don’t get the care they need to live full lives. Oldest tortoise on record lived 225 years.|
|Chicken||8-10 years||Chickens thrive in groups, but pecking order may influence lifespan. Oldest recorded lived to 15.|
|Horse or Pony||25-33 years||Ponies tend to live longer than horses. The oldest horse ever recorded was 52 years old.|
Choosing a Pet for Life
There are several factors to consider when choosing a type of pet.
- Kids. If you have children, lifespan is an important consideration. It might be difficult for them to get attached to a pet only to lose it after a short time. On the other hand, maybe you want to choose a pet that only lasts until the kids go off to college!
- Attention span. If you are the faithful, tenacious, dogged type, making a 30 year commitment won’t be hard. But if you know that you tend to get distracted or lose interest quickly, you should avoid adopting a long-lived pet.
- Lifestyle. Pets need consistency. If you travel often or can’t be pinned down to a steady schedule, then many of these pets are not for you.
- Housing considerations. Most animals’ lives depend on specific environmental requirements (a yard, a pen, an open window…). You might not be able to ensure consistency if you rent or move often.
- Financial considerations. When you take a pet on, you commit to taking care of them financially for life. The longer a pet lives, the larger financial burden it will be.
- The last years can be the hardest. Old age brings complications and visits to the vet, so you should expect your pet’s last years to be the most challenging.