Average Lifespans of Popular Pets

My oldest living pet was my beautiful grey and white striped Mixed Persian Cat named Mitz. Mitz lived into his mid-twenties before succumbing to old age!

What other pets live the longest? You can bet a long life has something to do with environment, the animal's stress level, happiness, and nutrition but some categories of animals are just blessed with the right genes allowing them to live almost as long or longer than a human!

Pet's Life Expectancy

When you're searching for a pet but you're not sure what type of pet to acquire, an important consideration should be the life expectancy of the animal. How long can you commit to your future pet?

Following is a list of animals and their life expectancies (in no particular order):

Mice

These small rodents make good pets as they are easy to care for and they bond with their owners. Usually given as a first pet, these short lived creatures with an average lifespan of 1 to 3 years, if cared for properly, can live a maximum of four to 5 years!

Hamsters

These little critters, like mice, are easy to care for and have an average lifespan of 2 to 3 years. The dwarf hamster live around 2 while regular hamsters can reach up to 4 years.

Gerbils

Another good first pet is the gerbil, a relatively perky and social desert mouse. Gerbils are odorless and quiet with a lifespan of 2 to 4 years, although some have reached the ripe old age of 6!

Rats

These very intelligent mammals, commonly blamed for starting the bubonic plague (it was really the fault of the fleas the rats carried) always got a bad rap throughout history! Rats require a lot of interaction and exercise to keep them happy. They're alert, friendly and they readily bond with their owners. Although they have an average lifespan of 2 to 4 years, with proper care rats can live up to 7!

Hedgehogs

Prickly, cute and easily cared for is the hedgehog. Although not a good pet for a young child because their quills can become prickly if handled rough. The hedgehog can grow to as old as 8 with their average lifespan being 4 to 6 years of age.

Guinea Pigs

Commonly known as the whistle pig, the Guinea pig is a bit larger than the mouse, hamster and gerbil. They're social and friendly and enjoy time spent with their owner. Although a bit more difficult to care for than the aforementioned animals, their average lifespan is about 5 years (although the longest living Guinea pig has been recorded as being 14 years!)

Ferrets

Not a rodent but in the same family as the weasel, the ferret has a slight musky odor and are extremely playful and curious. They sleep around twenty hours a day and they require regular exercise. They are, however, prone to cancer but a well bred and cared for ferret can live to be over 10. Their average lifespan is 5 to 7 years of age.

Squirrels

I've never thought of a squirrel as a pet but apparently they are sometimes kept as such and can live up to 16 years. Many pros and cons exist about squirrels being a good pet.

Fish

Not the most cuddly of pets but certainly attractive and beautiful without too much fuss, fish are usually happy if their environment is kept clean and they are daily fed. A goldfish can survive for 25 years or more when properly cared for and not stressed. Average lifespans can be 1 to 10 years, depending upon what fish you buy.

Lizards

Some reptiles like lizards are difficult to keep because environmental manipulation is necessary to keep them healthy. Take your pick from a wide variety of species from tiny geckos to the gargantuan monitor lizards! Lifespans of lizards range from 3 (the chameleon) into their 30's (the gecko,) depending upon the species.

Snakes

This reptile, like the lizard, requires environmental manipulation to keep them healthy. If cared for and handled proper, the snake can make an exciting pet! Snakes can live to be over 30 years under the proper conditions but they are very finicky animals. Their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years old!

Dogs

The dog is the oldest domesticated animal and dare I say, one of the most popular first pet choices ever (cat owners would argue this.) Dogs are loving, loyal, playful and require regular exercise.
The lifespan of the dog varies from breed to breed, with small dogs living into their twenties and the largest of breeds living from eight to ten years! Proper health care, diet and their living environment are also contributing factors that can add or subtract from their average 6 to 15 year average lifespan.

Cats

These social animals are one of the most popular pets which provide a good balance between intelligence and independence. They are litter trainable animals that make exceptional companions without being too demanding. Cats, like the dog or any domesticated animal for that matter, can live longer with the proper environment, healthcare and food provided. Indoor cats tend to live longer than outdoor cats due to limited exposure to predators and disease. The average cat lifespan ranges from 10 to 15 years with some reaching into their twenties!

Rabbits

Cute, docile, and fairly low maintenance is the rabbit. Although a bit skittish, a rabbit could very well bond with its owner and enjoy human contact.
Rabbits are usually kept indoors and with proper health care and feeding can live into their teens. A rabbit's average lifespan is 8 to 12 years.

Birds

These fairly small, highly intelligent animals make popular pets and can live very long with some parrot species reaching the hundred year mark and beyond (so get that will ready!)
Keep in mind, if you hate noise, chirping or even talking, a bird may not be for you. The lifespans vary largely from species to species with lovebirds reaching 10 years, the Parakeet ten to 15 years, the Cockatoo 30 to 40 years and the Macaw 30 to 50 years!

Turtles

Controlling their environment and keeping them safe is the prime directive for the aquatic turtle, the box turtle and tortoise owner. Turtles make great pets with turtles living up to 30 years and the land dwelling tortoise living feasibly hundreds of years! So unless you're methuselah, you can be assured a tortoise will be willed to some lucky family member! The common pet tortoise however, will generally live into its seventies. The Box Turtle, although sometimes referred to as a Box Tortoise, are members of the American pond turtle family and not the tortoise family. Box Turtles have an average lifespan of about 123 years!

Swans

A bit exotic and requiring special attention and feeding, the swan could be a good pet if you have a pond in your garden. They can live up to 102 years with good care and let's face it ... a swan is beautiful!

By Tom Matteo

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About the Author
Tom Matteo has been a freelance writer since 1992. He specializes in hardware and software reviews for computers and gaming systems, and occasionally writes about such topics as animal behavior and care. Tom resides in Bethlehem, PA with his wife Tina and his beloved cockapoo, Angel.