One thing that virtually anyone who owns a pet will have to face at some stage of their lives is the reality of outliving their pet and companion, and as a general rule, our animal friends live much shorter lifespans than we as people do.
Very small pets such as mice, rats and hamsters tend to be among the shortest-lived of all pets, with an average lifespan of well under five years in most cases, while the average age across the board reached by most pedigree dog breeds is around twelve.
However, there are certain types of pets and companion animals that really take the lead when it comes to average longevity, and certain species are even quite likely to outlive their owners, or go through more than one owner due to their age in their lifetimes! In this article, we will look at some of the various companion animals and pet species that tend to live the longest lifespans, particularly when kept in captivity under optimum conditions and properly cared for.
First up, the tortoise, today classed as an exotic pet and less commonly found kept as a companion than they were a few decades ago. Certain tortoise species are now rather rare or threatened, which has led to a drop in their numbers across the world and so, less of them entering the pet trade than they used to do.
Different species of tortoises can have quite different lifespans-giant tortoises for instance have an average lifespan of over 100 years, with the oldest recorded giant tortoises reaching nearer two centuries old than one!
Even the smaller, more common pet tortoise species such as the Hermann’s tortoise live on average for around 50 years (with proper care) and can reach over 100.
Like tortoises, parrots come in a wide range of different species, each of which have their own unique traits, appearances, and also, lifespans.
Even small birds such as canaries and finches can potentially live to ten years or longer, but as parrot species get larger, they tend to live for longer too!
The African Grey is one of the most common and popular pet parrot species in the UK, and even these smaller parrots live on average for fifty or sixty years (with optimum care), but the real grandfathers of the parrot world are the Amazons, Cockatoos and Macaws. Amazons can live to their seventh decades and Cockatoos to their sixties, but the Macaw at the top of the list can potentially live to around 100!
Fish are often thought of as a fairly short-lived pet, but this is by no means always the case! Pet fish are much more likely to die of neglect or poor care than they are to die of a natural old age, but properly cared for, some of our most popular cold-water fish species can potentially outlive us all.
The longest-lived fish as a rule is the Koi Carp, which with proper care, might outlive not just you, but your children, and your children’s children too… The oldest recorded Koi Carp died at the grand old age of 225!
Many people would scoff at the idea of the humble goldfish living for more than a year or two-but that is not a true reflection of this species’ natural lifespan with proper care. The goldfish is actually a type of carp as well, which as demonstrated by the Koi Carp, tend to live for very long lives when well cared for.
If you think that getting a goldfish is a short term proposition and that your pet will die off well before they reach their fifth birthday, think again-goldfish can potentially live to around thirty years old, and so anyone who cannot keep a goldfish alive past the age of five should seriously reconsider their care protocols.
Finally, when it comes to our equine friends, while they don’t reach the dizzying old ages of some of our centennial species above, horses and ponies can and often do, live for several decades. Unless an injury, illness or neglect artificially shorten their lifespans, horses and ponies commonly live well into their 20’s, and in many cases, into their 30’s too.
It is not unheard of (although it is rare) for horses and ponies to reach the age of 40, and the oldest recorded horse from recent history died at the age of 51. Smaller pony species and those that are hardy and native to the British Isles such as the Shetland and Welsh pony tend to be those that go on and on forever, and most Pony Clubs will know of at least one pony that is over thirty and may have been ridden by two or even three generations of the same family!