Turtles are some of the most fascinating creatures on our planet, and not just because of their colorful shells. These incredible animals can outlive humans by decades! In fact, the longest-living species of turtles can live for close to 200 years. Some of the longest-lived turtles are in fact tortoises.
This may seem counterintuitive, but tortoises are actually one of several species that are classified in the turtle family, making them a type of turtle. To understand more about these incredible creatures, let’s take a closer look at the longest-living turtles and how they manage to survive as long as they do. Keep reading as this article dives deep into the fascinating world of 10 long-living species of turtles.
10 Longest Living Turtles
Here’s a list of arguably the ten longest living turtle species in the world, starting with #10 and working our way to #1.
10. Kleinmann’s tortoise
Scientific name: Testudo kleinmanni
Kleinmann’s tortoise has an average lifespan of about 50 years but has been recorded living up to 100 years in captivity. Native to North Africa, these tortoises prefer dry, arid climates and are typically found living in semi-desert habitats.
They are highly valued among reptile enthusiasts for their unique coloration and ability to form strong bonds with their owners. Kleinmann’s tortoises have a yellow-brown shell that is usually speckled with dark spots, giving them an interesting patterned appearance. They are relatively small, growing to only about eight inches in length when fully grown.
9. Russian tortoise
Scientific name: Testudo horsfieldii
The Russian tortoise, also known as the Afghan tortoise, is a species of long-living turtle native to arid and semi-arid regions of Central Asia and parts of the Middle East. This species has an average lifespan of 50-80 years, with some individuals recorded reaching up to 100 years old.
They are relatively small tortoises, growing to about 8-10 inches in length. Their diet consists mostly of a variety of grasses and other vegetation.
8. Pinta Island tortoise
Scientific name: Chelonoidis abingdonii
The Pinta Island tortoise is one of the longest-living turtles in the world, with an average lifespan of 100 and a recorded age of 150 for the species. It is a species of giant tortoise endemic to Pinta Island, located in the Galapagos archipelago off the coast of Ecuador.
It was believed to have gone extinct in June 2012 due to the death of its last known living member, Lonesome George. However, new research has revealed that the species is not actually extinct and that there are still a small number of individuals in the wild.
The Pinta Island tortoise is one of 14 recognized subspecies of giant tortoises found in the Galapagos Islands. It has a distinctive domed shell, yellowish-brown carapace, and dark brown limbs. Adult specimens typically weigh around 85 to 110 pounds and measure up to 3 feet in length.
7. Marginated tortoise
Scientific name: Testudo marginata
The Marginated tortoise is a species of tortoise that lives in the Mediterranean region. It is one of the longest-living turtles, with an average lifespan of 100, and the oldest recorded marginated tortoise reaching 150.
These animals have thick shells and low-slung bodies, which help them to stay cool in the hot Mediterranean sun. Their color varies from black to yellow and they can grow up to 20 inches long.
Marginated tortoises are herbivores, feeding on a variety of grasses and other plants found in their habitat. They prefer living in open areas where there is plenty of sunlight and vegetation.
6. Greek tortoise
Scientific name: Testudo graeca
The Greek tortoise, is one of the longest-living species of turtle. They have an average lifespan of 50-90 years, with the longest documented one living to be 160.
These tortoises are native to the Mediterranean region, where they inhabit dry grasslands, scrublands, and rocky areas. They have a high-domed shell and can range in color from yellowish or olive brown to darker shades.
These tortoises are relatively small, with adults typically reaching lengths of 8-18 cm (3-7 inches). They are also extremely hardy animals, being able to survive long periods without food or water due to their slow metabolism.
5. Giant Galapagos land tortoise
Scientific name: Geochelone elephantopus
The Giant Galapagos land tortoise is one of the longest-living creatures in the world. Found on the volcanic islands off of Ecuador, this species can live an average life of 100 years old with the oldest, Harriet, living to be 175 in 2006. They can weigh over 500 pounds.
Despite its enormous size and age, this species faces extinction due to human encroachment, hunting, and the introduction of non-native species that compete for resources. Conservation efforts are underway to help protect this remarkable species from disappearing forever.
The Giant Galapagos land tortoise is an impressive creature by all standards. It has a large dome-shaped shell with ridges along its back and sides, giving it a very distinct appearance. The shell is made up of 13 plates and can reach up to 8 feet in length and 4 feet in width, making it one of the largest tortoises in the world.
4. Radiated tortoise
Scientific name: Astrochelys radiata
The Radiated tortoise is one of the longest-lived species of turtles, with an average lifespan estimated to be between 80 and 150 years in the wild. Before a Seychelles giant tortoise turned 190, a Radiated tortoise held the record for “Oldest Turtle” until she died at 189 in 1966.
Native to Madagascar, it is the largest species that inhabits this island country. It is a highly threatened species due to habitat destruction and illegal collection for the pet trade industry.
The Radiated Tortoise is a large species, with adults reaching up to 29 inches in length and weighing between 20-45 pounds. It has a distinctive yellow pattern of radiating lines on its shell and limbs, which inspired its common name. The shell also features two rows of pyramidal tubercles on the upper surface.
The natural habitat of Radiated Tortoises is dry grassland and spiny desert, up to an elevation of 5,000 feet. They feed mostly on foliage such as cactus pads and fruits, but will also consume flowers and herbs.
3. Seychelles giant tortoises
Scientific name: Aldabrachelys gigantea
The Seychelles giant tortoises, found in the Seychelles islands of the Indian Ocean, are one of the longest living Turtle species. They have an average lifespan of 150 years and the oldest one on record is Jonathan, who is alive at 190 years old. Jonathan is currently in the Guinness Book of World Records as “Oldest Turtle”.
These turtles can reach a weight of up to 400 lbs, making them the second-largest Tortoise species in the world after the Galapagos giant tortoises. The Seychelles giant tortoises are herbivorous and can survive on very little water, meaning they can live happily in their dry, arid habitat.
These remarkable creatures have survived nearly unchanged for millions of years and still remain one of the most impressive species of turtle. They continue to thrive in their native habitat, with conservation efforts helping protect and preserve them.
2. Aldabra giant tortoise
Scientific name: Aldabrachelys gigantea
The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the longest-living species on Earth, with the longest recorded Aldabra tortoise living to be 250 at a zoo in Calcutta, India. It is native to the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean and is considered an endangered species.
These animals have a slow life cycle, with slow growth rates, long reproductive cycles, and high longevity. They can reach lengths of up to 5 feet and weigh more than 150 kg (330 lbs). By some estimates, Aldabra giant tortoises have an average lifespan of 100 years or more.
1. African spur-thighed tortoise
Scientific name: Centrochelys sulcata
The African spur-thighed tortoise or African spurred tortoise is one of the longest-living turtles in the world. It is native to Northern Africa and Southwestern Asia and can live for up to 100 years in captivity. This species has a unique, yellow or brown shell with black patterns that distinguishes it from other tortoises.
The African Spur-Thighed Tortoise is a hardy species and can survive in a variety of climates, from dry deserts to humid forests. They are herbivores and consume plants such as grasses, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
The longest-recorded living African spur-thighed tortoise is said to have lived 344 years in a Nigerian royal court. However, this account is disputed due to a lack of hard evidence and a prevailing belief in the absence of hard evidence that this tortoise, Alagba, may have been replaced by other tortoises called Alagba. However, there’s no questioning that African spur-thighed tortoises are long-lived, with an average life span of 100 years.