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A Pet's Life Expectancy: How Long Will My Pet Live?

Updated on October 17, 2017
Jo Tucker profile image

In her lifetime Jo has had 3 dogs, 9 cats, 2 birds, 2 rats, a snake, a horse, and a black widow, and currently tends a brood of chickens.

Do You Want a Pet That Lives a Long Time?

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.

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.
The animal's care, breed, diet, and lifestyle make all the difference.

What do you think?

Which is best for you: a pet that lives a long life or one that doesn't?

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Unlike most other types of pets, many reptiles live longer in the wild than they do in captivity.

© 2017 Jo Tucker

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