For many people, a pet is a member of the family.
As well as providing companionship, pets have been proven to reduce anxiety, provide social interaction and a sense of purpose, which helps to improve mental health conditions such as depression. But there’s obviously a downside when a much-loved pet dies, so we thought we’d investigate which pet lives the longest.
The longest-living Australian pet is the parrot. The larger species such as white cockatoos can live up to 80 years while the smaller species such as cockatiels can live up to 25 years.
Parrots are highly interactive pets, but they do come with downsides. Their intelligent nature means they can require a lot of attention and stimulation and, for the larger breeds, space to roam.
Their long life spans often mean they are passed through several owners, which can stress the animal.
Second in the longevity stakes
Second for longevity are snakes. They’re not everyone’s first preference for a pet, but snakes can live up to 30 years.
Owning a snake is highly regulated and can require a licence or permit depending on the state.
They require a suitable habitat including an appropriately sized tank, bark, tree branches, substrates and rocks and logs, heating and lighting, all of which can be costly.
Food can also be a problem. All snakes are carnivores and require a steady supply of suitable food. Owners will need to find a source of frozen rodents or quail and a dedicated freezer may be required for health reasons.
And coming in at No. 3
At No. 3 are koi fish, which are essentially a fancy form of carp.
They can live up to 25 years in captivity, but there are strict rules about owning them in Australia. You can only keep koi fish in New South Wales and Western Australia, and they cannot be imported.
Koi fish live longer in colder regions – about 40 years in Japan where they go into hibernation and give their body a rest.
Once you have set up their habitat, they are generally low maintenance, but a koi pond can easily cost thousands.
Turtles can’t play fetch and it’s pointless taking them for a walk, but they live up to 25 years in captivity.
The most common breeds kept in Australia are the long-necked turtles and the Murray River turtle. Overseas breeds live up to 40 years but cannot be imported.
A permit is needed to keep a turtle in Australia and the requirements vary from state to state.
The RSPCA recommends doing your research before buying a turtle.
“Turtles require special care, so deciding to have one as a pet is a big commitment.
“You need to ensure that you obtain your turtle from a reputable breeder and make sure that it has not been taken from the wild as this is illegal in most states.”
Native Australian turtles require a lot of room. You can start off with a small tank, but eventually they will need a two-metre tank at least, but ideally an outdoor pond, a source of heat and light and regular water maintenance.
Cats and dogs
Cats live marginally longer than dogs, 15 to 20 years and longer depending on the breed.
The longest-living cat was Crème Puff, of Austin, Texas, who died at 38 years and three days.
Balinese cats can live up to 22 years and the American Wirehair about 12. The life spans of cats and dogs are slowly getting longer as food and healthcare steadily improve.
The longest-living dog to date was an Australian blue heeler, Bluey (of course), who lived to be 29 years and five months. Born in 1910 in Rochester, Victoria, Bluey was euthanised in 1939 after a distinguished life in the sheep yards.
Generally, the bigger the dog, the shorter the life span.
The dogs with the longest life span include Chihuahuas, dachshunds, Yorkshire terriers and, yes, Australian blue heelers.
Dogs with the shortest life span include Scottish deerhounds, bullmastiffs, greater Swiss mountain dogs and the Irish wolfhound.
Are you a pet owner? Have you chosen a pet on the basis of how long it will live? Does it concern you that your pet will die one day? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Also read: Why are older people deciding not to have pets?