What Small Pets Live the Longest?

Last updated:
Jun 11, 2023

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Choosing a new pet is exciting, but it’s sometimes daunting because we don’t always know what to expect with the pet we choose.

The lifespan of smaller pets should be something we all consider when contemplating adding one to our family.

There are a few small pets that live surprisingly long lives, which makes them great options if you’re looking for a long-term friend!

What Are the Longest Living Pet Rodents?

The lifespan of pet rodents is astonishingly varied: some can live up to 100 years, while some only live about a year. The pets below are some of the longest-living pet rodents.

The longest-living rodents are:

  1. Chinchilla
  2. Ferret*
  3. Degu
  4. Guinea pig
  5. Rabbit*

We’ll go into greater detail for each pet below.

*Ferrets and rabbits don’t belong to the rodent family, but they’re considered similar in many ways, so we’re including them here!

1. Chinchilla

Average lifespan: 10-20 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 29 years

The chinchilla is one of the longest-living pet rodents. Under the correct care, one chinchilla named Radar was able to live for almost 30 years! These pets will stick by your side for a very long time, which means you have to be prepared for a long-term pet.

As the chinchilla ages, you might begin to see a few health concerns popping up, such as overgrown teeth, respiratory diseases, or even skin issues. You can prevent and slow this process if you pay more attention to your pet as they begin to slow down.

For example, they may begin to stop cleaning themselves or even stop playing in their cage. The sooner you can notice and understand behavior changes, the sooner you can begin to give them the help they need.

2. Ferret

Average lifespan: 6-9 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 14 years

Although they’re technically not rodents, ferrets are included on this list because their care needs are similar to many rodents.

Ferrets have a long lifespan of 6-9 years, which makes them a wonderful addition to your family. They are incredibly active and inquisitive animals, which means they require a high level of attention.

They may dwell inside a cage, but they actually require a lot of time outside their cages to ensure proper exercise and mental stimulation.

Ferrets also need high-quality food and even vaccines to ensure proper nutrition and health. A ferret can live a long life as long as they are cared for correctly.

An important health concern for ferrets is getting into and eating something they shouldn’t. This can be prevented by creating a safe environment for them to explore and live freely within.

3. Degu

Average lifespan: 5-9 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 13 years

If you’re searching for a rodent that has a long lifespan, then the degu would be a wonderful choice. Degus are chinchillas’ closest relatives, so it makes sense that they have the second-longest lifespan in rodents.

However, depending on where you live, degus may be illegal to own as they’re considered pests. This means that finding proper care for your pet will likely be fairly difficult. If an animal isn’t common in an area, the average veterinarian isn’t going to have the proper knowledge to address your pet’s health issues.

However, you can provide your degu with the best care by providing a cage that fits its size. They enjoy burrowing, which means that they require a bigger cage than other pets that are similar in size.

Degus can begin to have issues with their brains as they age including inflammation that causes deterioration. They can also develop breathing issues, which are prevented by keeping their cages as clean as possible.

4. Guinea pig

Average lifespan: 4-6 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 14 years

Guinea pigs live a fairly long life and make wonderful pets under the proper care. They require a specific diet as they do not create their own vitamin C. This means that without the proper nutrition of grass hay, vegetables, and vitamin C included in their diet, they will begin to have health issues.

Guinea pigs can also have tooth issues as they age and begin having difficulty grooming themselves. You must provide proper tools for your guinea pig to shorten their teeth, such as chew toys.

If you notice that they are still having issues, this is when you must consult a veterinarian to ensure your guinea pig doesn’t have any choking issues later on.

5. Rabbits

Average lifespan: 4-6 years (large rabbits); 12-14 (small rabbits)

Longest recorded lifespan: 18 years

Although they’re technically not rodents, rabbits are included on this list because their care needs are similar to many rodents.

Rabbits are incredible animals that can live a long time, making them wonderful pets for a dedicated pet owner. The smaller the rabbit, the longer the lifespan becomes, and vice versa. This meant that smaller rabbits have a lifespan of 12-14 years, but larger rabbits only live about 4-6 years.

Rabbits take considerate care as they are sensitive to heat and require a balanced meal to ensure a long lifespan. They can overeat, which means that you have to be careful about leaving too much food in their cages.

They also require a play area to live in for most of their life and a cage for some of the time. They need exercise and lots of room to play, which means a cage is often too small for them.

What Are the Longest-Living Non-Rodent Small Pets?

Relatively speaking, rodents have fairly short lifespans. If longevity is your goal, you may want to consider other types of small pets, too.

You will find below a list of the longest-living small pets that could be a wonderful addition to your family.

The longest-living non-rodent pets are:

  1. Parrot
  2. Small tortoise
  3. Box turtle
  4. Gecko
  5. Goldfish

We’ll go into greater detail for each pet below.

1. Parrot

Average lifespan: 50-80 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 83 years

Parrots are one of the longest-living small pets that you can own as they can live up to 80 years on average. The longest-living parrot was 83 years old! Parrots are a big responsibility due to how smart they are and their specific needs.

You must be prepared to spend an adequate amount of time interacting with your parrot as they get bored easily. They need mental stimulation each day. as well as time to explore. They also need a balanced diet to ensure proper nutrition.

2. Small tortoise

Average lifespan: 40-50 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 100+ years

If longevity is your goal with your new pet, a tortoise is well worth your consideration. Larger species of tortoise can live over 150 years, but they take up a lot of space and require very specific care.

Smaller species of tortoise, like the Russian tortoise and Hermann’s tortoise, are easier to care for and can still live up to 100 years. Their average lifespan in captivity, though, is between 40 and 50 years.

As tortoises age, they can start to experience respiratory issues, as well as weakening bones and nutritional deficits. It’s important to keep an eye on your tortoise’s health to make sure they’re getting the proper mix of vitamins and nutrients.

3. Box turtle

Average lifespan: 25-35 years

Longest recorded lifespan: Over 120 years

Like tortoises, box turtles are a long-term commitment as they have the potential to live over 100 years. Their average lifespan, however, is between 25 and 35 years.

These impressive creatures are also fairly difficult to care for and require special treatment to own as a pet. They do much better when you allow them to live outside for most of the year.

4. Gecko

Average lifespan: 15-20 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 28 years

Geckos are a wonderful option for families as they are small and relatively cheap to own. They can live on average about 15 years and make entertaining pets. Their most particular need is heating since they’re cold-blooded. You must provide proper tools, like heating lamps, that ensure the correct temperature for their cage around the clock.

Low temperatures can begin to cause problems for your gecko, which can be prevented by ensuring your heating tools are working properly.

They can develop stomatitis, which is an infection within the mouth also known as mouth rot. Geckos can also be infected with parasites, which will be shown as skin differences or changes in appetite.

The best way to prevent these medical issues is to keep a daily watch so that you know your gecko’s baseline. This way you will know when your gecko is acting differently and needs help.

5. Goldfish

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Longest recorded lifespan: 43 years

Goldfish are incredibly interesting pets that can live for over 40 years. They have the potential to grow over a foot long and are incredibly smart creatures. Their memory span is said to be over three months, which allows them to recognize faces.

These pets are also fairly easy to keep healthy and ensure they live a long life. You will need to ensure that the tank size and temperature are correct, as well as feed your goldfish the proper nutrition. The initial setup of owning a goldfish is the hardest part.

How to Help Your Small Pet Live Longer

We all want to know how to help our pets live as long as some of these recorded pets have lived, and there are many ways to do that. Use the list below to benefit your pet and help them live a long and healthy life.

1. Ensure the cage or tank size fits their needs

Consensus: Each pet is different and requires a habitat that fits its needs.

One of the most important factors to take into account for your small pet is the cage, tank, or enclosure size. It’s easy to think that one size fits all for small pets that are mostly the same size, but that’s just not true.

Each pet has different requirements and behaviors that require different cage sizes. This means that researching the proper cage size before you purchase your new pet would benefit the lifespan of your new friend.

2. Clean the cage regularly to avoid diseases

Consensus: Nearly every pet is susceptible to diseases through unclean cages, which means cleaning regularly can help your pet live longer.

Even the most low-maintenance pets need their cages cleaned on a regular basis to ensure proper health. This means that being diligent with caring for the cage as well as your pet will help your pet live longer with fewer health problems.

3. Provide enough mental stimulation

Consensus: A majority of animals require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy long term.

You will find that nearly any small pet you have is going to require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. There are small pets such as the parrot that will require hours of mental stimulation to prevent depression and other health issues. This means that if you prioritize time with your pet, then you could be helping it to live longer!

4. Research the specific pet’s health concerns

Consensus: Each pet has different health concerns, which means you have to be aware of possible health issues before purchasing your pet.

You can prevent possible health issues for your small pet by ensuring that you have done your research prior to owning the pet. There are various health concerns that are specific to each pet, which means doing your due diligence can benefit the lifespan of your new pet.

Keep an eye out for those specific issues in your pet, and know what signs to watch for. Then you can get your pet the proper veterinary care right away if any of those issues arise.

5. Feed your pet quality food

Consensus: Animals are similar to humans in the sense that we all need proper nutrition to live a long and healthy life.

You can provide your pet with a longer and happier life when you research and ensure that your pet is getting a balanced and healthy diet. There are foods that will benefit your specific pet and help them be able to take care of themselves even better.

Life-Long Friends

Ensuring that your small pets are living their best life doesn’t have to be difficult as long we are aware of the specifics of our pets. Ultimately, if you’re helping your pet live a happy life, you’re also helping them live a long and healthy life.

And when all is said and done, what’s important is making sure that our pets are happy while they’re with us, whether that’s for a short time or a long time.

About Us

LittleGrabbies is an independent blog run by one human and her pets. We want to help you sift through all of the information that's out there for small pets to provide the best possible care.


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