Some reptile species only live for a few years, but there are others with lifespans that can rival a human’s and beyond. In fact, some reptile species have been known to live for a hundred years or more. From turtles to snakes to crocodiles, here are some of the longest living reptiles that are true survivors.
The 12 Longest Living Reptiles
Which reptile species have the longest lives? Tortoises are known for their long lifespans, but there are several other species that have real staying power. Read on to learn about reptiles that can live for a long, long time.
12. Painted Turtle
Average lifespan: 20 to 30 years
The painted turtle can be found in eight Canadian provinces, 45 U.S. states, and can even be spotted in parts of Mexico. It typically makes its home in large wetlands near slow-moving bodies of water. Not only is it common to see this turtle in the wild, but it’s a popular pet.
While these turtles already have a fairly long lifespan in the wild, they can live even longer when kept in captivity. The oldest painted turtle on record lived to be 55 years old! These long-living turtles get their name from the colorful markings on their top and bottom shells.
11. Komodo Dragon
Average lifespan: 25 to 30 years
Weighing more than 300 pounds and measuring up to 10 feet long, the Komodo dragon is the world’s biggest and heaviest lizard. It’s exclusively found on a series of islands in Indonesia, where its large size makes it an apex predator. Not only is it massive, but it’s also venomous, making it a formidable threat to its prey.
Since the Komodo dragon is only found in one part of the world, there’s still a lot to learn about this species! Based on its body mass, experts believe it can live more than 60 years in the wild. Komodo dragons have a shorter lifespan in captivity, where the oldest known lizard lived to be 30 years old.
10. Ball Python
Average Lifespan: 25 to 30 years in captivity
Also known as the royal python, the ball python is a nonvenomous snake found in the grasslands of Central and West Africa. It has dark colored markings and can grow to be more than 6 feet long. In the wild, the snake is targeted by hunters and poachers, which limits its lifespan.
While ball pythons usually live around 10 to 15 years in the wild, they can survive for much longer when they’re kept in captivity. In fact, St. Louis Zoo is home to a ball python that’s over 60 years old! The snake has been living in the zoo since 1961.
9. Spectacled Caiman
Average lifespan: 30 to 40 years
The spectacled caiman is a semi-aquatic, carnivorous reptile. It’s a crocodilian, making it a close relative of crocodiles! While it’s native to Latin America, it can also be found in other parts of the world, including North America and Cuba.
Caimans live in freshwater rivers and streams and can grow to be more than 8 feet long! Like all crocodilians, these reptiles have a long life expectancy. While most of these reptiles live for around 30 to 40 years, experts believe that they can live for more than 70 years in the wild.
8. Blanding’s Turtle
Average lifespan: 75 to 80 years
This semi-aquatic turtle is named after Dr. William Blanding, an American naturalist. It can be found in Canada and the United States, where it lives in wetland habitats. The Blanding’s turtle measures between 7.1 and 9.1 inches and has bright yellow markings on its chin and throat.
Habitat fragmentation and nest predatation have threatened this species. It’s classified as endangered in several states, including Maine, New Hampshire, and Illinois.
Although this turtle faces many threats, it’s still a long-lived species. The oldest Blanding’s turtle on record lived to be 83!
7. Saltwater Crocodile
Average lifespan: 65 to 70 years
Also known as the Indo-pacific crocodile, the saltwater crocodile is an apex predator and the largest living reptile. Male crocodiles can reach lengths up to 21 feet and weigh anywhere from 2,200 to 2,900 pounds. The crocodile is found in brackish wetlands and saltwater habitats across Southeast Asia, and it can also be found in parts of Australia.
While saltwater crocodiles generally live for about 70 years, it can have much longer lifespan, especially when it’s kept in captivity. Cassius, the largest crocodile in captivity, lives in Australia’s Marineland Crocodile Park and is estimated to be more than 110 years old! Kolya, a crocodile in Russia, lived to be 115.
6. Alligator Snapping Turtle
Average lifespan: 50 to 100 years
Native to the United States, the alligator snapping turtle is the world’s largest freshwater turtle. Adult turtles typically measure between 13 and 24 inches, with weights ranging from 155 to 175 pounds. However, some turtles grow to be much larger, with one turtle reportedly clocking in at nearly 400 pounds!
The alligator snapping turtle has a spiky shell, which makes it look a little like a dinosaur. Whether they’re kept in captivity or live in the wild, the lifespan of these turtles can vary dramatically. The oldest recorded alligator snapping turtle was kept in captivity at the Newport Aquarium, where it lived to be 150!
5. Green Sea Turtle
Average lifespan: 70 to 80 years
The green sea turtle can be found in tropical and subtropical seas across the globe. While the largest populations are in the waters of Australia and Costa Rica, it can be found swimming along the coastline of over 80 countries.
Adult turtles can grow to be 3 to 4 feet long and weigh between 300 and 350 pounds. Despite its size, it eats a herbivorous diet, mostly feeding on seagrasses.
Hunting, pollution, and diseases have all reduced green sea turtle populations, and the species is currently listed as threatened. Turtles that reach maturity can live to be over 90 years old. Myrtle, a green sea turtle at the New England Aquarium, is currently in her nineties.
Average lifespan: 60 to 100 years
Tuataras are a type of reptile that’s exclusively found in New Zealand. It makes its home in coastal forests, where it shares burrows with seabirds! While they resemble lizards, they’re actually a different type of animal.
The tuatara is the only living species in the scientific order Rhynchocephalia, which can be traced all the way back to the Middle Triassic period. Due to its lineage, it’s sometimes referred to as a living fossil!
Although it can take the tuatara up to 20 years to reach maturity, it’s one of the longest-living reptile species in the world. It can live for more than 100 years in the wild. One study estimated that its lifespan is 137 years.
3. Nile Crocodile
Average lifespan: 70 to 100 years
The Nile crocodile is a large, aggressive crocodile that’s found in freshwater habitats throughout Africa. Males typically grow to be around 9.8 to 14.5 feet long, with weights ranging from 496 to 914 pounds. They’re apex predators and feed on a variety of animals, including birds, zebras, and even small hippos!
In captivity, the Nile crocodile has a typical lifespan of 50 to 60 years, but it can live much longer in the wild. With that said, there are a few captive crocodiles that have managed to survive for a very long time. Henry, the world’s oldest captive Nile crocodile, lives in the Crocworld Conservation Centre in South Africa, where he recently celebrated his 121st birthday.
2. Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Average lifespan: 90 to 100 years
True to its name, the Galapagos giant tortoise is exclusively found on the Galapagos Islands. It’s the largest tortoise in the world, with larger species measuring up 6 feet long and weighing between 600 and 699 pounds.
Thanks to its massive size, this tortoise only has one natural predator: the Galapagos hawk. This hawk feeds on tortoise eggs and on young turtles that are newly hatched.
The oldest known Galapagos giant tortoise was a turtle named Harriet, who lived to be 176. Harriet was allegedly collected by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835. Her final home was at the Australia Zoo in Queensland.
1. Aldabra Giant Tortoise – longest living reptile in the world
Average lifespan: 80 to 120 years
The Aldabra giant tortoise can only be found on the Aldabra Atoll islands, which are located in the Indian Ocean. While it’s not quite as big as the Galapagos giant tortoise, it’s still quite large, measuring around 4 feet long and weighing up to 550 pounds.
These turtles have limited access to fresh water, so they get most of the water they need from their food. They’re primarily herbivores, feeding on grasses, leaves, and fruit.
Currently, the oldest living land animal is a Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan, who celebrated his 190th birthday in 2022. The Seychelles giant tortoise is one of several subspecies of the Aldabra giant tortoise. Esmerelda, an Aldabra giant tortoise that roams freely on a private island, is over 170 years old.