How long do turtles live? It's longer than you might think.

·2 min read

For pet owners, aquarium goers and nature lovers, turtles are a spectacle to behold with intricate shells and long lifespans.

Turtles exist in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Red-eared sliders, African sideneck turtles, common musk turtles and eastern box turtles make typical house pets, while Galapagos tortoises, ranking as the world’s largest tortoises, are a wonder seen only in the wild.

The question of their age also varies in range. As a pet owner, it’s important to know the longevity of your new pet and how long it will be a part of your life.

What do turtles eat?: Getting to know the reptile's eating habits.

Turtle nesting season: Learn more about sea turtle behavior

Smaller turtles have a different lifespan than the record-breaking tortoises seen in the wild.
Smaller turtles have a different lifespan than the record-breaking tortoises seen in the wild.

How long do turtles live?

A turtle's lifespan depends on the species, but most aquatic species live into their 40s, PetMD reports. Smaller species live only about a quarter of a century, and terrestrial box turtles typically live to 40 or 50 years but can live to be 100.

Here’s what the Spruce Pets says about the lifespans of common pet turtles:

  • Red-eared slider: 25-35 years

  • Map turtle: 15-25 years

  • Wood turtle: 40-55 years

  • Eastern box turtle: 50 years and beyond

  • Painted turtle: 25 to 30 years

  • Russian tortoise:  40 years or more

  • Greek tortoise: 100 years or above

  • Leopard tortoise: 100 years or more

The oldest living tortoise recently turned 190. Jonathan, a Seychelles giant tortoise, lives on an island in the British territory St. Helena. The previous record was held by 188-year-old Tu’i Malila, a Madagascar tortoise who lived from 1777 to 1965, Smithsonian Magazine reports.

Why do turtles live so long?

The answer can be explained in part by their metabolism. What you’ve heard about turtles being slow is true: Turtles have a slower metabolism than other animals, making their disease and aging process occur at a slower rate.

Turtles can also live for long periods without food and water, PetMD writes, and sometimes enter hibernation-like stages where they live underwater for months at a time.

Have a pet cat too?: How long cat pregnancies last

A cat's nine lives: Here’s how long to expect your feline friend to live

How to care for a pet turtle

Pet owners can give their turtles adequate care and keep them alive for longer by keeping their water temperature at 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a basking area of 80 to 85 degrees, PetMD says. It’s also recommended to give your turtle a mix of commercial turtle food and leafy vegetables like lettuce or dandelion greens.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How long do turtles live? Detailing the lifespan of turtles, tortoises