Average Life Spans of Popular Pets

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Whether you are considering a low-maintenance pet, like a fish, or one that requires more time and attention, like a dog, knowing the average life span of the animal is an important consideration before bringing the animal into your family. Losing a pet is heartbreaking, so knowing when you are choosing pets with short life spans can help you prepare.

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Most pets need daily attention.

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Life span of dogs

Dogs are popular pets and are often referred to as a person's best friend. They are loving, loyal, and playful but not low maintenance. They need regular potty breaks, exercise, and training. As with all pets, dogs who are healthy and well cared for are more likely to live a long life. Make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight, eats healthy food, and gets regular exercise. Regular veterinary checkups can help diagnose and treat problems early, increasing the chance your pup will live longer.

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A dog's life span varies, with small-breed dogs living longer than large-breed dogs. If you are looking for a small pet with a long life span, consider a small-breed dog. Small breeds have an average life span of 10 to 15 years, but some breeds live even longer. The life span of a medium-size breed is 10 to 13 years. Large-breed dogs live eight to 12 years, while a giant-breed dog's life expectancy is just eight to 10 years.

A cat's life span

Cats are another popular pet who offer a balance between intelligence and independence. They are lower maintenance than dogs, as they can use a litter box rather than requiring outdoor bathroom breaks. Their life span varies greatly depending on their lifestyle.

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Outdoor cats encounter many dangers, including traffic, wild animals, and disease. As a result, they tend to have a short life expectancy of about five years. Indoor cats live much longer and have an average life span of 13 to 17 years, although some indoor cats have been known to live into their 20s.

Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives than outdoor cats.
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The life span of pet rabbits

Rabbits are cute, docile, and relatively low maintenance, as they can be litter box trained. Rabbits can be a bit skittish and have a tendency to chew, which can lead to problems if they gnaw on something bad for them. In general, rabbits live five to eight years, although with proper care and good health, they can live into their early teens.

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Mice and other pet rodents

Mice, hamsters, and other small rodents can make excellent, low-maintenance, short-lived pets. They are easy to care for and many can be social and friendly creatures. Hamsters are a popular first pet and tend to be easy to care for. Rats are social and intelligent creatures, but they have more complex care needs than some other rodents. Both species tend to live about two years.

For a smaller pet rodent, consider mice or gerbils. Mice live approximately three years, while gerbils live three to four years. Guinea pigs are social and active animals that sleep only about four hours each day. They live a bit longer, with a life expectancy of about five or six years.

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If you are looking for rodent pets a with long life span, consider a chinchilla. They do not have an odor and have luxuriously soft fur. Chinchillas typically have a life expectancy of 10 to 20 years.

Hedgehogs and ferrets

Hedgehogs are prickly and cute but are not necessarily low-maintenance pets. They need food formulated for hedgehogs and much more exercise than you would think based on their small size. In addition, they need an appropriate enclosure with a heat source and hiding spot to sleep. Hedgehogs generally live about five years, but some may live eight years or more.

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While some may think of ferrets as rodents, they are actually in the same family as the weasel. They are playful, curious, and very intelligent. Their average life expectancy is five to seven years, although some ferrets have lived into their early teens.

The life span of pet birds

Birds tend to be small, highly intelligent animals who make popular pets, especially if you enjoy their chirping and talking. Depending on the species and care, pet birds can be short-lived or long-lived. Short-lived pet birds, such as finches, have an average life expectancy of four to five years, while parakeets and canaries have an average life expectancy of about six and eight years, respectively. However, many pet birds have been known to live as much as three times longer than their expected life span.

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Many species of large birds, like macaws and parrots, make excellent exotic pets with long life spans. They live 20 to 100 years, so be prepared for a long-term commitment if you opt for these birds.

Fish: Low-maintenance pets

Fish tend to be incredibly low maintenance and are beautiful to watch. While you need to keep their environment clean and feed them daily, there is little other care needed. Proper care and minimal stress are key to ensure fish live their full expected life span. Depending on the species, fish can live just a year or two or more than 20 years.

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Betta fish are popular for the home aquarium, and these fish live two to four years. Neon tetras live five years or more, and goldfish can live 10 to 30 years.

Pet reptile life span

Lizards come in a lot of sizes and colors.
Image Credit: Alexandre Morin-Laprise/Moment/GettyImages

Although pet reptiles are generally kept in aquariums, this doesn't mean they are easy to care for. In fact, many reptiles are challenging to keep healthy due to their specific environmental needs. Lizards and snakes are popular pet reptiles to consider.

There is a wide variety of lizard species from which to choose, from tiny geckos to huge monitor lizards. Some lizards, such as chameleons and bearded dragons, live just five to 10 years, while other species, such as the leopard gecko, can live 20 years or more.

Snakes can also live for a long time if they are kept in the proper environment. In captivity, corn and garter snakes can live 10 to 15 years, while a royal python can live more than 20 years.

Turtles and tortoises

If you are looking for a pet with a long life span, a turtle or tortoise may be a great option. You will need to make sure to provide an appropriate environment, as turtles have unique needs depending on the species. Some turtles are aquatic, for example, while others, such as the African spurred or sulcata tortoise, are not only long-lived but also large in size. The largest sulcata weighs 105.5 kilograms, or 232.5 pounds.

Sulcata tortoises and some other tortoise species, including spur-thighed, Hermann's, and Horsfield's tortoises, have a life expectancy of 50 years or more. Not all turtles have such long life spans. A map turtle's life expectancy is just 15 to 20 years, and a red-eared slider lives 20 to 40 years.

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