Since owning a pet turtle is a long-term promise, many people ask, “How long do pet turtles live?” Well, there’s no definitive and conclusive answer to this question.

However, the life expectancy of pet turtles will depend on their species mostly. Additionally, proper caring, dietary, and meditation also play a crucial part in the pet turtles expected living period. Ideally, proper care and diet help the turtle live longer in captivity than in the wild. However, life expectancy shrinks rigorously when the opposite happens.

Nonetheless, getting a pet turtle is actually bringing a lifetime family member in the house. Yes, it is true.

Turtles often live for a few decades and will be rolled on from generation to another in your family lineage. For instance, the red-eared slider can live up to 40 years to 50 years. On the contrary, mud turtles have a shorter lifespan of 25-30 years.

So, we will discuss the probable lifespan of all popular species for pet turtles, reasons of turtles living so long, and how you can enhance the life expectancy of the turtles.

How Long Do Pet Turtles Live

Now we will talk about the generalize lifespan of all popular pet turtle species. Since it is a normalized lifespan, the actual figures may differ in practical life and will depend on many factors.

Pet Turtle SpeciesLife Expectancy in The WildLife Expectancy in Captivity
Red Eared SliderAround 70-80 years40-50 years
Painted TurtlesFrom 5 to 10 yearsAround 15 years
Mud TurtlesAround 15 years15 years to 20 years
Musk Turtles30-50 years30-50 years
Box Turtles45-50 years45-50 years
Map Turtles15-20 years30+ years
African Sideneck Turtles50+ years45-50 years

As you can effectively see from the table, most turtles live longer in captivity than in the wild. It is natural because, in the wilderness, turtles often fall prey to larger predators and also sometimes die due to lack of proper diet and natural causes.

The turtles enlisted here may seem to have a long lifespan compared to cats or dogs at home. However, when we compare it with the longest living turtles and tortoises in the world, this will only seem a nimble figure.

At present, Jonathan is the longest living tortoise in our planet earth. It was hatched in 1832 and is currently around 189 years old. The beauty lives in Saint Helena.


Another long-living species was Harriet, which is from Galapagos Tortoise and died at the age of 176 years in 2006. However, it is believed that the longest ever living tortoise was Adwaita from India that was estimated to live up to 255 years. It is claimed that it was a part of Robert Clive estate in India during the early 1750s. It died in 2006.

As you see such an immense and unthinkable lifespan of turtles, you might be wondering what enables the pet turtles to live so long. We will dig deep into the matter now.

How Long Do Pet Turtles Live & Their life span

Reasons for Turtles Living So Long

Over the years, scientists and biologists have taken a keen interest in the life expectancy of turtles. Naturally, several theories and hypotheses circle the enhanced lifespan of turtles. However, the most popular views are explained below:

Slow metabolism:

Metabolism ardently refers to all chemical reactions related to the food chain within the body of any species that actually keeps them alive. When the metabolism stops, the animal dies immediately. That being said, with a slower metabolism rate, animals tend to live longer.

The same is true for turtles as well. Turtles are claimed to have one of the lowest metabolism rates in the entire animal planet. Naturally, they will live longer than most animals.

Slow metabolism means the turtles will digest solid food and liquids exceptionally slowly. So, they can starve without food and water for a really long time. It is responsible for increasing the life expectancy of the turtles.

Slow metabolism also means turtles will grow slower. As they grow slowly, they will also mature slowly. It means they will not die any time soon. However, slow metabolism is also responsible for the somewhat sluggish activity of the turtles.

Peaceful lifestyle:

Turtles are known for their peaceful and unaffected lifestyle, even when the conditions aren’t flavorful. To be honest, you will hardly find any animal as docile and friendly as turtles around you. Their docile characteristics help them avoid clashes with larger predators and even with other turtles.

So, for most of their life, they won’t be engaged in many battles. It helps the turtle go injury-free and get a sustained lifespan.

Another part of the peaceful turtle life is related to its healthy diet. Most turtles will eat green leaves and vegetables and avoid cholesterol and fats. Sometimes, they will eat live fish, shrimps, or worms to meet up their nutrient requirements. Since they leave away cholesterol and fats from their diet, turtles enjoy a healthy and longer life.

Evolutionary reproductive system:

Since earlier turtles have lived longer, they have got more opportunities to reproduce. And as we know, during each reproduction, the natural selection process intentionally leaves away from the harmful elements from the turtles breed.

Thus, the unthinkable regenerative capacity of turtles has slowly enabled them to love so long that it often exceeds over 100 years.

Strong shell:

Turtles have one of the most rugged shells in the whole animal universe. The robust shell of the turtles protects them from predators and natural calamities. It, thus, boosts turtles living span intensely.

Can Turtles Live Without Food and How Long?

When you plan to go on a summer vacation, you may want to know the survival capacity of pet turtles without food. It will help you estimate the vacation timing and serve the turtle food accordingly.

The good news is that turtles can go without food for months quite easily. In fact, I know a person who once forgot to provide food for his turtle before leaving home. When he returned home, he found his turtle was still surviving.

However, it has lost 25% of its weight.

So, here’s the result-

Pet turtle may go without food for months if they are fed well earlier with a proper diet. However, they will be most likely to lose severe weight, which can boost various complications in their body.

However, in the wilderness, turtles live long without any food, especially during the hibernation period. At home, the turtles won’t, however, hibernate much. The reasons for turtles not having proper hibernation at home include:

  • At home, pet turtles always live at an optimal temperature. So, they don’t feel it necessity to hibernate as the result of a sudden fall in temperature.
  • Pet turtles are continuously supplied with the right diet at regular intervals. As they get sufficient food at the proper time, they don’t feel the urgency of hibernation.
  • Furthermore, pet turtles always receive the proper UV lights (UVA and UVB), which also reduce the necessity of hibernation.

Despite not hibernating at home, pet turtles live longer without food because they burn down their fat received earlier from their proper diet.

Can Turtles Live Without Water?

Although turtles may live months without any food, the chances are bleak that turtles will live without water as well.

To be specific, turtles will barely live more than a couple of days without water. It is crucial since, without water, their shell will soon get dehydrated. Dehydration will boost other complications in its body, which will result in its death.

Also, baby turtles will die shortly without water since they have less control over their body and temperature regulation.

Tips on How to Boost The Turtles Lifespan:

Although turtles will easily live for a few decades, you may want to help it live longer and pass it on to the 2nd or 3rd generation of your family. Well, the technique to enhance the turtle life expectancy is straightforward- proper care and diet.

  1. The first care and maintenance of the turtle will come from the temperature around the turtle tank and residence. Ideally, most turtles will thrive at 78°-82°F with the basking temperature going close to 80°F-85°. You can use lights within the turtle living space to maintain the temperature correctly.
  2. The basking location is another vital part of turtles’ life. Since these are cold-blooded animals, they can’t control their body temperature internally. It means they require an external heat source to regulate their body temperature, which they fulfill from their basking. So, you should arrange a proper basking area for them with UV and lamps in the ideal proportion.
  3. Next, you should focus on the proper diet of the turtles. You don’t need to pay massive amounts on the turtle food. Make sure that the proportion between protein and vegetables is at an optimal level. Also, baby turtles may need feeding every day. However, as they grow up, the feeding frequency needs to come down to 2-3 times a week for adult ones. Some recommendable nutrient sources for turtles are live shrimps, small fishes, chickens, mealworms, and many more. And for vegetables, you can choose any green leaves. Also, I fed them with commercial turtle foods to maintain the proper diet.

The Bottom Line

When you next time confronted with the question, “How long do pet turtles live?” know that most pet turtles will live at least for a couple of decades with proper care and maintenance. So, once you decide them to bring as a pet, make sure you are genuinely committed to the turtles.

Also, proper care turtles will be less prone to diseases, which will also reduce your expenditure. Nonetheless, if you are planning to go on long trips for vacations, we suggest you keep the turtle at a pet housing or call your neighbor or friend to feed turtles at least twice a week.

Otherwise, they will really lose massive weight, and that can be hazardous if not treated at the right time.

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