Top 10 Longest Living Animals


Top 10 Longest Living Animals

kakapo by jidanchaomian cc2.0

There are several factors that affect animal lifespan, such as metabolism, age of sexual maturity and whether the animal is predator or prey. Size is also a factor. Smaller animals tend to have a shorter lifespan than larger animals, mainly because most small animals also have a fast metabolic rate and are prey animals for larger predators. This, however, is evened out when it comes to reproductive rate, with smaller animals generally able to produce more young than larger animals.

In dogs, however, smaller breeds like the Chihuahua, Pomeranian and terrier breeds tend to be the longer-lived dog breeds. According to recent research by a university in Germany, this is because large dogs tend to age faster, and so develop more age-related illnesses and disorders, such as bone disorders, heart conditions and hormonal dysfunctions.

Just take a look at this list of longest living animals below and you’ll notice that most of them are huge. Before we tackle them, though, let’s take a look at one species of jellyfish that is too good for the list —the Turritopsis dohrnii.

Image by muzina_shanghai cc2.0

The Turritopsis dohrnii is known as the “immortal” jellyfish. This is because when it is starved, hurt, threatened or stressed in any way, it ages in reverse. That’s right. It gets younger. You see, jellyfish usually undergo four stages — planula (which is the larval stage), polyp, ephyra and medusa. When threatened, the Turritopsis dohrnii goes from medusa to polyp, and not just one polyp, but possibly a colony of polyps that can all develop into adults. As if that’s not amazing enough, this jellyfish can do this over and over again — endlessly, which means it can live forever unless it is eaten or succumbs to disease.

Now, on to the animals that have long lifespans:

1. Turtles (80 to 250 years)

Harriet by Fritz Geller-Grimm cc2.5

Turtles and tortoises are some of the longest living animals. Because sea turtles spend most of their lives in the water, it is hard to estimate exactly how long they live, though scientists peg their lifespan at around 80 years.

Tortoises live longer. In fact, the oldest tortoise to ever live was 188 years old. Another tortoise, named Harriet and brought to England by Charles Darwin himself, was believed to have reached 175 years old. Currently, the oldest living tortoise is a Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan, who may be as old as 182 years.

On average, tortoises live for 120 to 250 years. The giant tortoises such as the Aldapra giant tortoise and the Galapagos tortoise, which can weigh up to 550 pounds (250 kilograms), are particularly long-lived, having lifespans of over 150 years.

Turtles in general have a slow metabolic rate, which contributes to their long lifespan. A slow metabolic rate, however, can have a downside — it means that symptoms of an illness do not manifest until it is too late, so turtles in captivity need regular trips to the vet.

For more on Turtles and Tortoises:
101 Turtle Facts

2. Whales (30 to possibly 200 years)

Most whales have a lifespan of between 30 to 90 years. The bowhead whale, however, is believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, possibly up to 200 years. This belief came at the heels of the discovery of a bowhead whale found with the head of a harpoon embedded in its neck, the harpoon being one of the weapons used in the 1890 whale hunts, as well as other scientific research.


Next to the bowhead whale, the fin whale, blue whale and  are the longest-lived, with records of lifespans over 100 years. All these whales are baleen whales, predatory whales that feed mostly on tons of krill.

Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) exhaling, off Greenland. By Aqqa Rosing-Asvid cc2.0
Blue Whale by NOAA Photo Library cc2.0
Humpback Whale

Though technically not a whale but a dolphin, the killer whale is also long-lived. Its average lifespan is 60 to 100 years, longer for females. The oldest living killer whale on record, though, is 103 years old.

Killer whales live long because they are the ocean’s top predators, even feeding on young blue whales, and because they live in groups and look out for each other.

Killer Whales

For more on Whales:
Minke Whales
Beluga Whales
Sperm Whales
Spy hopping killer whales
Dive with Killer Whales
Orcas vs Sperm Whales!

Whale Books :
Early Reader Book on Whales
25 Whales, Dolphins and other Sea Mammals
Early Reader Whale Book
Orca – Killer Whales!
Killer Whales – The World’s Most Powerful Predators!

3. Tuatara (100 to 200 years)

Tuatara in Invercargill (New Zealand). His name is Henry.

Tuataras are the only living descendants of an order of reptiles that appeared around 228 million years ago. That makes them one of the oldest animals around. They are also one of the animals with the longest lifespans, living from 100 to 200 years old. At the Southland Museum in New Zealand, there is a tuatara named Henry, who is currently 112 years old.

The tuatara is an incredible creature, with the features of amphibians, reptiles and even fish. It can use each eye independently and can hear well even if it has no ear. Its spine is like that found in fish, while the spikes on its back are like a crocodile’s. Tuataras are found only in New Zealand.

Articles you might also be interested in:
101 Facts – Lizards
Perentie Lizard
Texas Horned Lizard (Horny Toad)
Frilled-neck Lizard
Gila Monster
Komodo Dragon

4. Lake Sturgeon (55 to 150 years)

Lake Sturgeons (Acipenser fulvescens) by Engbretson, Eric

The lake, or rock, sturgeon is a freshwater fish found in Canada and the US. It can grow up to about 6 feet (1.8 meters) long and looks like a catfish with barbels around its mouth. It uses these barbels to find food at the muddy bottom of a lake, mainly clams, snails, fish eggs and insect larvae.

The largest lake sturgeon ever caught was 7.3 feet (2.2 meters) long, weighed 240 pounds (109 kilograms) and was estimated to be 125 years old. Another lake sturgeon caught in 1953 was 154 years old.

Lake sturgeons take a long time to mature. The males can take as many as 19 years, while some females don’t reproduce until they’re 23 years old. Afterward, they can lay close to a million eggs each year.

5. Crocodile (50 to 100 years)

Saltwater Crocodile. Obtained from Molly Ebersold of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Crocodiles are among the largest reptiles. In fact, the saltwater crocodile is the largest reptile in the world, able to grow up to 22 feet (6.7 meters) long. Crocodiles are hardy animals that can eat just about anything they can get their powerful jaws on, and they can go without food for weeks because of their slow metabolism. Because of their size, power and their thick skins, crocodiles rarely fall prey to other animals, although they occasionally get attacked by big cats, hippos and anacondas.

A crocodile kept in a Russian zoo was reported to reach 115 years of age. Another crocodile in Florida was believed to be 70 to 80 years old when he died in 1997.

More on Crocodiles:
101 Crocodile Facts
Nile Crocodiles
Saltwater Crocodiles
Desert Crocodile
Crocodiles Can Climb Trees!

6. Carp (100 years)

Koi Carp by Ronnie Macdonald cc2.0

Carp refers to the freshwater fish found in the wild in Europe and Asia and in captivity in many parts of the world. One example of the domesticated common carp is the popular koi fish found in many lakes and ponds. One such koi, Hanako, is believed to be the oldest living animal ever, having reached an age of 226 years old before dying in 1977. In the wild, carp do not live as long, though the oldest ever caught still reached 65 years old.

7. Parrot (30 to 100 years)

This bird is named Cookie and as of 2014 is 80 years old. Image by Nimesh M

Parrots are the longest-living birds and this is especially true with cockatoos, macaws, African grey parrots and Amazon parrots. The oldest living parrot is a Major Mitchell’s cockatoo named Cookie who is at least 80 years old.

The kakapo, which is not only the world’s largest parrot at 25 inches (64 centimeters) long and weighing 9 pounds (4 kilograms), but is also the only flightless parrot, has an average lifespan of 95 years.

kakapo by jidanchaomian cc2.0

Parrots live long because they are rarely preyed on and because they live in groups that look for food together. In captivity, parrots can live a long time as long as they are well cared for.

Parrot Book :
101 Facts… Parrots!

Kakapos are featured in the following books:
25 Nocturnal Animals
101 Facts… Parrots

Cockatoos are featured in the following books:
25 Australian Animals
101 Facts… Parrots!

Macaws are featured in the following books:
101 Facts… Parrots!
25 Amazon Rainforest Animals
25 Endangered Animals

8. Elephant (50 to 70 years)

Packy (left) and Rose-Tu, two Asian elephants at the Oregon Zoo. cc2.0

The African bush elephant is the largest land animal, weighing over 13,000 pounds (5897 kilograms). Its average lifespan is 40 to 50 years. Asian elephants live longer — up to 70 years. Packy, an Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, is currently 52 years old. However, scientists have determined that elephants in the wild live longer than their counterparts in captivity.

Elephants have few predators, because of their size and because they live in tight-knit groups. Usually, they mature between 8 to 13 years of age, with females giving birth to a single calf every 5 years. Female elephants have long pregnancies — roughly 640 days, or 21 months.

Also check out:
Sumatran Elephant

9. Dugong (50 to 70 years)

Crystal river UW 04Mar07 371
Exposição Jardins Marinhos by ASCOM Prefeitura de Votuporanga cc2.0

Dugongs are cylindrical-shaped marine mammals which weigh about 900 pounds (408 kilograms). They are vegetarians and, since they graze underwater, they can hold their breath underwater for up to 6 minutes. Both males and females have tusks, which determine the dugong’s age.

The oldest dugong ever recorded was 73 years old. Dugongs are known to live long yet they have a low reproductive rate. Females can take up to 17 years old to mature and many only give birth to a single calf every seven years.

Dugongs are featured in the following book:
25 Whales, Dolphins and other Sea Mammals

10. Gorilla (50 to 60 years)

Silverback Gorilla by Matthew Hoelscher cc2.0

Gorillas are our closest living relatives, next to chimpanzees, and are the largest primates, which can weigh nearly 400 pounds (181 kilograms) and grow nearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. Gorillas tend to have a short lifespan in the wild — only 30 to 40 years, mainly because they can have a hard time finding food, or they get preyed on by leopards. Male gorillas also tend to fight, sometimes to the death. In captivity, gorillas can live over 50 years.

Mountain gorillas are featured in the following books:
25 Apes and Monkeys
25 Endangered Animals

Now, let’s get a glimpse of some of the shortest living animals:
Mayfly — 24 hours
Octopus — 1 to 2 years
Robin — 1 to 2 years
Rodents (mice, rats, hamsters, etc.) — 2 to 4 years
Rabbits and hares — 5 years
Red fox — 5 years
Hummingbird — 5 years

What do you know?

Think you remember what you’ve read? Try out the Longest Living Animals Quiz.


Top 10 Longest-Living Creatures


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