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The Lifespan of Popular Pets

Updated on February 23, 2016

One of the most important things to consider when selecting a pet is its average lifespan. How long you can commit to any one animal should be the ultimate limiting factor, as most pets abandoned in adulthood never find a new home.

Below, in ascending order, are popular pets and their average lifespans. If there are several species of a pet with drastically different lifespans, they will be further broken up.



Mice are easy to care for and can bond with their owners. Their small size and low demands make them popular first pets.

Mice are not long-lived, but with proper diets and care, they can hit a maximum of four or five years.

Average Lifespan: 1 - 3 years


Fish are not the most cuddly of pets, but they are beautiful without demanding too much care. If you can keep the tank clean and the fish fed, they're usually happy.

Believe it or not, goldfish are very long-lived and can survive for over 25 years. The fact that many only live for a few years is due to poor care. Other fish, like Bettas, only live for a few years.

Average Lifespan: 1 - 10 years


Hamsters are engaging little rodents that, like mice, are easy to care for. Hamsters are famous for their bulging cheeks as they store food.

They are relatively short-lived. Dwarf hamsters generally do not exceed two years, while most regular hamsters are very lucky to make it to 4.

Average Lifespan: 2 - 3 years


These desert mice are perky and social, making their endearing hopping a lovely sight to their owners. They are quiet, hardy, and relatively odorless, making them great first pets.

The gerbil is fairly short-lived, although some can reach six years old.

Average Lifespan: 2 - 4 years



Rats are the more personable and intelligent cousins of mice, although they require more exercise and interaction to keep happy. Rats are alert, curious, and friendly. They enjoy spending time with their owners.

Rats can live to be as old as seven, given proper care.

Average Lifespan: 2 - 4 years


Hedgehogs are prickly, adorable little creatures with a hard disposition. They are relatively easy to look after.

Hedgehogs can grow as old as eight, making them one of the longest-lived pets for their size.

Average Lifespan: 4 - 6 years

Guinea Pigs

These whistling little rodents are friendly and a bit bigger than mice, hamsters, and gerbils. They are social creatures and enjoy time with their owners.

They are one of the more complex rodents, but they make up for the more difficult care with longer lifespans.The oldest recorded guinea pig was 14 years old.

Average Lifespan: 5 years


Ferrets are not rodents, instead belonging to the same family as weasels and badgers. They have a slightly musky odor, and are extremely sociable and playful. Ferrets need regular exercise, and then sleep approximately 20 hours per day.

Due to their curious nature and the need for several hours outside the cage every day, ferrets are accident-prone creatures. They are also prone to cancer. A well-bred and well looked after ferret can live to be over ten years old.

Average Lifespan: 5 - 7 years.


Like snakes, lizards require careful environmental manipulation to keep healthy. There are a multitude of species to choose from, ranging from tiny geckos to enormous monitor lizards.

Lifespans vary wildly. One of the shortest-lived captive lizards is the chameleon, which usually tops out at a paltry three years. By contrast, geckos can live into their 30's.

Average Lifespans:

Bearded Dragon: 5 - 7 years

Gecko: 8 - 12 years

Water Dragon: 10 - 15 years

Iguana: 13 - 17 years

Savannah Monitor: 10 - 12 years


The oldest domesticated animal, dogs truly are man's best friend. Loyal, loving, and playful, dogs require regular exercise but make every moment of it worth it to their owners.

Dog lifespans depend largely on breed, with smaller dogs making it into their twenties and the giant breeds lucky to hit ten. Proper health care and diet are also essential for extending a dog's life.

Average Lifespan: 6 - 15 years


Rabbits are one of the most popular pets today, due to their cute appearance, docility, and fairly low-maintenance care. Although somewhat skittish, many rabbits can bond with their owners and enjoy human contact.

Rabbits kept indoors can live into their teens, so long as they are given proper health care and food.

Average Lifespan: 8 - 12 years


Snakes are difficult animals to keep and require a lot of work. However, in the hands of a knowledgeable owner they can make exciting and exotic pets.

Snakes require careful environmental control and can be very finicky creatures. Larger snakes can live to be over 30 years old under proper conditions.

Average Lifespan: 10 - 15 years


One of the most popular pets, cats provide a good balance between intelligence, independence, and sociability. They are wonderful companions, litter trainable, and not too demanding on their owners.

A cat's lifespan varies depending on its living conditions. Indoor cats tend to live much longer due to a limited exposure to predators and disease. Cats can live into their twenties if protected.

Average Lifespan: 10 - 15 years


Being highly intelligent and fairly small, birds are popular pets for those that can stand the noise.

Most species of parrots are exceptionally long-lived, with reports of birds reaching and surpassing 100 years old.

Average Lifespan:

Lovebirds: 10 years

Parakeet: 10 - 15 years

Amazon: 20 - 30 years

Cockatoo: 30 - 40 years

Macaw: 30 - 50 years

African Grey: 40 - 50 years


The aquatic turtle and land-dwelling tortoise makes a great pet for those who can control their environment and keep them safe.

Turtles can live up to 30 years, and tortoises can feasibly live for hundreds. Common pet tortoises, however, will live to be about 70 at a general maximum.

Average Lifespan:

Turtles: 10 - 20 years

Tortoises: 50 - 60 years


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    • profile image

      ... 6 months ago

      I like turtles

    • profile image

      Cjoys 6 months ago

      Woah, wtf. Snakes are easy to care for. They are easier and less expensive to care for than even a hamster! I currently own a corn snake so I would know

    • profile image

      Ly.Davies 6 months ago

      Cockatiels live upto 25 years btw. You need to include dwarf, Campbell and Chinese hamsters aswell as syrians. But otherwise, great article!

    • profile image

      Esther 8 months ago

      This article was helpful and informative.

    • profile image

      Nicole 14 months ago

      Ferrets are really fast

    • profile image

      isfturtle 19 months ago

      Turtles live longer than that. My family has 2 yellow-bellied sliders that were bought in 1981 (and weren't babies at the time), and are still alive and healthy.

    • profile image

      Breck123 3 years ago

      Good hub. I have a few snakes, and they're actually pretty easy to care for. Sure, setting up heating and lighting can be a hassle, but once you have that down, all you need to do is feed it about once a week, change its water, spot clean, and fully clean the cage every couple months.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Very informative! I had no idea fish could live that long (ours had relatively short lives, lol)This should give everyone some guidelines to consider before adding a pet to the family. Voted up!

    • Gofygure profile image

      Gofygure 5 years ago from Kutztown, PA

      Wow! :) Your pets are very long lived, I bet you take great care of them. I had one cat hit 24 before she finally succumbed to old age. Best cat I've ever had.

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago


      Your hub was entertaining. We love having pets, most live to an old age: had to uthanazi a pit bull at 18 years old, and two cats, one at age 22 and the other 20. All our pets were rescued strays.


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