30 Animals With the Longest Lifespans
When it comes to the longest living creatures on the planet, most are aquatic and will be found under the sea where temperatures are coolest and growth is slow. Microorganisms and sponges are known to live for thousands of years underwater. In particular, the glass sponges found in the Southern Ocean and the East China Sea are believed to be over 15,000 years old!
There are also plenty of land animals among the longest living on Earth. However, many creatures living in the wild rarely reach a potentially long lifespan due to diseases, natural predators, lack of food or shelter, habitat destruction and poaching. For this reason, several species have been listed as endangered.
Here are 30 animals that have the longest lifespans, ranked from shortest to longest.
30. Queen Termite
Size: 4-6 inches
Lifespan: 25-50 years
Bottom Line: Queen Termite
The queen termite is the oldest in the colony. Her job is to find a mate and produce eggs that will become workers. She controls the size of the nest and has the option to choose a secondary or tertiary termite to produce offspring.
Queens can live to be 50 years old with peak egg production for up to 10 years.
Size: 374 pounds
Lifespan: 35-50 years
Bottom Line: Gorilla
Although the average lifespan of a gorilla is 35 years, some make it to 50 years in captivity.
Their only predators are leopards, crocodiles and larger carnivores, which account for their deaths. However, the greatest threat to the gorilla population is humans.
Size: 5.6-9.2 feet and 140-320 pounds
Lifespan: 40-50 years
Bottom Line: Ostrich
The world's largest bird cannot fly, but it can live up to 70 years in captivity. At birth, the ostrich is the size of any other baby bird until six months, when it reaches its full-grown height. By 3 to 4 years, the bird reaches sexual maturity.
Interestingly, the ostrich doesn't need to drink water. Instead, it gets its hydration from the plants it eats.
Size: 1-3 feet
Lifespan: 35-50+ years
Habitat: North and South America
Bottom Line: McCaw
These colorful birds are part of the parrot family and have a shorter life expectancy rate in the wild. In captivity, however, they can live much longer.
It is believed that the larger the bird, the longer its lifespan. For example, a blue-and-yellow macaw named Charlie, originally Winston Churchill's pet, supposedly lived to be over 120 years old!
26. Ball Python
Size: 3-5 feet
Lifespan: 30-60 years
Habitat: Sub-Saharan Africa
Bottom Line: Ball Python
The longest living ball python was at the Saint Louis Zoo and lived to be 62 years old. But the average lifespan is 30 years.
In the wild, they're predisposed to predators and diseases. If raised in captivity, it's important for the ball python to have a large enclosure and a proper diet to extend its lifespan.
25. Laysan Albatross
Size: 5.6 pounds
Lifespan: Up to 70 years
Habitat: The Pacific Ocean, mostly near the Hawaiian Islands
Bottom Line: Laysan Albatross
These large seabirds live anywhere from 12 to 40 years, but Wisdom the Albatross has defied the odds and is now over 70 years old.
She is the oldest-known banded wild bird in history and lives in Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge colony. However, 99.7 percent of the albatross population lives in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Size: 7.5-17 feet, 900-1,200 pounds
Lifespan: 70 years
Habitat: Africa (south of the Sahara)
Bottom Line: Crocodile
There are many rumors that the saltwater crocodile is an immortal reptile and that death only comes when it is subject to hunters, disease and natural disasters. Obviously, none of this is true; they age like any other animal.
Crocs lose their strength and teeth and develop cataracts as they get older, while the females produce fewer eggs over time. Although it's true these massive reptiles live for a very long time, they die eventually (and much faster) when held in captivity.
23. Andean Condor
Size: 23.1 pounds
Lifespan: 50-70+ years
Habitat: Pacific Coast of South America
Bottom Line: Andean Condor
The largest raptor globally, the Andean condor is a vulnerable breed that was placed on the U.S. Endangered Species list in 1970.
This is due to their slow reproduction — the condor does not reach sexual maturity until it is 5 to 6 years old and only produces one offspring every other year. Although the average lifespan is 50 years, these raptors can live past 70 in captivity.
22. American Alligator
Size: 330 pounds
Lifespan: 70+ years
Habitat: Southern United States
Bottom Line: American Alligator
The American alligator is the largest reptile in North America, with an average lifespan of 30 to 50 years. However, gators raised in captivity can live between 70-100 years. They have no predators, except for human beings that hunt them.
The world's oldest alligator is Muju at the Belgrade Zoo in Serbia. Unlike many other animal species, alligators have undergone very little evolutionary change. Their ancestors evolved 245 million years ago, making them the most closely related animal to the dinosaur.
21. Greater Flamingo
Size: 3.9-4.7 feet tall, 4.6-9 pounds
Lifespan: 35-80+ years
Habitat: Northwest India, the Middle East, the western Mediterranean and Africa
Bottom Line: Greater Flamingo
The typical lifespan of a greater flamingo in the wild is 30 to 40 years, but they live much longer in captivity — some well into their 60s and 70s. They live in large colonies in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The oldest flamingo on record was "Greater," who lived to be 83 at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia.
20. Pink Cockatoo
Size: 1 pound
Lifespan: 40-80+ years
Bottom Line: Pink Cockatoo
The Pink Cockatoo is part of the parrot species and is native to Australia, where it thrives in areas surrounded by acacia, eucalyptus and cypress pine trees.
They live longest in captivity and make friendly, highly intelligent pets that are very protective of their owners. The oldest pink cockatoo on record is a male named Cookie who lived to be 83 at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois.
Size: 6,600-13,000 pounds
Lifespan: 70-80+ years
Habitat: Africa and Asia
Bottom Line: Elephant
Like humans, elephants live long past their reproductive prime. However, those that live in captivity have much shorter lifespans due to stress. The average elephant lives 56 years, but many do not last longer than 17 to 19 years of age in captivity.
Asian elephants tend to live longer than the African species. The oldest in the world was an Asian elephant named Changalloor Dakshayani, who reached the ripe old age of 89 in India.
Size: 3.5 pounds
Lifespan: 90+ years
Habitat: Off the coast of New Zealand
Bottom Line: Tuatara
The tuatara has one of the slowest growth rates of any reptile on the planet. They continue to grow for 35 years and have an average 60- to 90-year lifespan, though some make it past 100.
Tuatzras reproduce very slowly since it takes 10 to 29 years to reach sexual maturity. However, they can reproduce until they reach the age of 60. Females only mate and lay eggs once every four years. The oldest known Tuatara is Henry from the Southland Museum in Invercargill, who is between 120 and 150 years old.
17. American Lobster
Size: 3.5 pounds
Lifespan: 100 years
Habitat: Northern Atlantic Ocean
Bottom Line: American Lobster
Lobsters are like any other organism, but these crustaceans tend to have a longer lifespan than most. The American lobster lives in deep, dark areas of the Atlantic waters off the northern part of the Eastern Seaboard, where the temperatures are cold.
This slows down their metabolism, allowing them to age slower. Lobsters also continue to reproduce in old age, which helps add to the population.
Size: 0.5 ounces
Lifespan: 100 years
Habitat: Southern Europe
Bottom Line: Olm
An olm is a blind cave salamander that lives up to and slightly beyond 100 years of age. Knicknamed the "human fish," the olm is an aquatic creature that can only be found in deep underground lakes or pools in caves.
Since their eyes are covered by a thin layer of skin, these salamanders rely on other senses such as smelling and hearing to protect themselves in the wild.
15. Longfin Eel
Size: 2-5 feet
Lifespan: 60-106 years
Habitat: New Zealand and Australia
Bottom Line: Longfin Eel
The freshwater longfin eel has a slow growth rate compared to other fish, only growing 15 to 25 millimeters a year.
In New Zealand, records show that female eels can live up to 106 years, with some weighing as much as 50 pounds. However, they only breed at the end of their lives.
14. Eastern Box Turtle
Size: 1.5-2 pounds
Lifespan: 100-130+ years
Habitat: North America and the Gulf of Mexico
Bottom Line: Eastern Box Turtle
One of the most commonly seen turtles in the wild, the eastern box turtle is a long-lived reptile that reaches maturity at 10 to 20 years and can easily live well past the age of 100. However, that number drops down to 30 to 50 years in captivity.
Females have one clutch a year that consists of two to eight eggs.
13. Warty Oreo
Size: 2.5 pounds
Lifespan: 140 years
Habitat: Northern Pacific and the Indian Ocean
Bottom Line: Warty Oreo
One of the longest living microvertebrate in the world is the warty oreo, a fish that lives on average up to 140 years. The oldest one on record is Dory, who lived for more than 200 years!
The species takes 30 to 40 years to reach maturity for breeding but is in danger of being exploited to the point of extinction.
Size: Up to 23 feet long
Lifespan: 100-150 years
Habitat: Lakes and coastlines of Euroasia and North America
Bottom Line: Sturgeon
While the male sturgeon lives between 55 and 60 years, females last 80 to 150 years. These fish mature late in life, with their first spawn occurring after 15 to 20 years.
Several sturgeon species are harvested for their roe, which is processed into caviar. For this reason, some sturgeons have been listed as critically endangered.
11. Freshwater Pearl Mussel
Size: Less than 1 inch
Lifespan: 130-150 years
Habitat: The Arctic, western Russia, Europe and northeastern North America.
Bottom Line: Freshwater Pearl Mussel
The freshwater pearl mussel thrives in polar climates and is found in freshwater streams or rivers where they live partly buried under fine gravel and sand. These bivalves feed by filtering algae, bacteria, phytoplankton and other small particles in the water.
They have a slow metabolism (which contributes to their longevity) and do not reach maturity until 10 to 15 years old. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the oldest known freshwater pearl mussel lived to be 280.
10. Shortracker Rockfish
Size: 19.6 pounds
Lifespan: 120-150+ years
Habitat: North Pacific Ocean
Bottom Line: Shortracker Rockfish
The shortracker rockfish looks similar to an oversized, orange goldfish but has the second-longest lifespan of all rockfish. Their age is determined by their earbones, which indicate seasonal growth patterns (much like the rings of a tree).
In Seattle, Washington, a resident caught a 39-pound, 41-inch shortracker that was believed to be at least 200 years old.
9. Red Sea Urchin
Size: 1 pound
Lifespan: 200 years
Habitat: Northern Pacific Ocean
Bottom Line: Red Sea Urchin
The red sea urchin is a spiny invertebrate that lives in shallow coastal waters and is one of the longest living creatures on Earth. Most live to be at least 100, but an urchin in good health can live much longer.
They reproduce up through old age, but their growth rate slows considerably by the time they are teenagers. The oldest red sea urchins believed to be over 200 have been found in waters off British Columbia, Canada, between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
8. Orange Roughy
Size: 8.5 pounds
Lifespan: 149-200+ years
Habitat: Southern Coast of Australia
Bottom Line: Orange Roughy
When commercial fishing of the orange roughy began in the 1970s, it was believed that the fish only lived for about 30 years. But since the 1990s, that number has changed to 149 to 200 years.
One specimen caught in 2015 was estimated to be more than 250 years old, making the orange roughy the longest living commercial fish species.
7. Rougheye Rockfish
Size: 1.1 pounds
Lifespan: 200+ years
Habitat: Northern Pacific Ocean
Bottom Line: Rougheye Rockfish
Like many other rockfish, the rougheye is a slow-growing, late-maturing fish with an impressive lifespan. Female rougheyes might not start spawning until they are 25, but they can produce more young as they get older.
Some females are still reproducing up to age 200! The oldest known rougheye rockfish was 205 and measured 32 inches.
6. Bowhead Whale
Size: 220,462 pounds
Lifespan: 200+ years
Habitat: Arctic Ocean
Bottom Line: Bowhead Whale
The oldest living mammal in the world is the bowhead whale, which can live up to 200 years and beyond. One captured whale had harpoon tips in its blubber, the fragments dating back to the 1800s.
On record, the oldest Bowhead was found in the Arctic waters and presumed to be at least 268 years old. This species has the ability to survive in such frigid water due to an insulating layer of blubber that is roughly 1.6 feet thick.
5. Giant Tortoise
Size: 919 pounds and 4 feet long
Lifespan: 150-255 years
Habitat: Aldabra Atoll and Fregate Island in Seychelles and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
Bottom Line: Giant Tortoise
The Aldabra tortoise is one of the largest tortoises in the world and one of the longest living species. Most turtles live for 10 to 80 years, but these tortoises can live 150 years or more.
Adwaita, a tortoise in India, was the longest known living land animal globally, at 189 years old. Alagbra was a tortoise from Africa that was rumored to be 344 years old at his death, but this has not been officially confirmed.
4. Giant Tube Worm
Size: 8 feet long
Lifespan: 200-300 years
Habitat: Pacific Ocean
Bottom Line: Giant Tube Worm
The deep-lying tube worm is among some of the longest living animals on the planet, with a lifespan of up to 300 years. Tube worms can be found up to 10,000 feet below sea level, where they grow very quickly — some reaching 3 feet in 1.5 years.
These worms have colorless bodies with red plumage on top and survive on bacteria for energy. They are rarely seen on the ocean's surface — you'll have to dive deep to find them in their natural underwater habitat.
3. Greenland Shark
Size: 2,260 pounds
Lifespan: 300-500 years
Habitat: Arctic Ocean
Bottom Line: Greenland Shark
The longest living vertebrate in the world, the Greenland shark only grows about 1 centimeter per year. Females do not even reach sexual maturity until they are 100 to 150 years old.
Scientists can determine the age of a Greenland shark by studying the layers in the eye lens. The age is then estimated based on how much carbon isotope is present in the eye tissue.
2. Ocean Quahog Clam
Size: 0.5 pounds
Lifespan: 500+ years
Habitat: Northern Atlantic Ocean
Bottom Line: Ocean Quahog Clam
These edible clams have impressive lifespans. It's not unusual for them to live up to 400, but the oldest on record was found in Iceland and believed to be 507 years old.
Scientists determine a clam's age by counting the growth rings on the shell. Interestingly, this ancient clam was initially nicknamed "Ming" since it was born in 1499 when the Ming Dynasty ruled China.
Size: 0.2 inches
Lifespan: Could potentially live forever
Habitat: Mediterranean Sea
Bottom Line: Turritopsis
Also known as the "immortal jellyfish," the Turritopsis reaches old age like any animal, but instead of dying, it returns to the polyp stage and starts life all over again. They can repeat the reversal of their lifecycle repeatedly, thus earning them the reputation of being immortal.
The only time death is unavoidable for the Turritopsis is when it's consumed by underwater predators. Otherwise, the Turritopsis can potentially live forever.