Slow & Steady Wins The Race For The Longest Living Pets

In my previous post, “Can Our Dog’s ‘Dog Years’ Ever Match Human Years,” I posed the question whether or not dogs could live longer, so pet owners didn’t have to face the inevitable loss in sometimes less than a decade. In my research I learned that the experimental drug ‘Ramamycyn.’ which has shown positive results in extending the lifespan of mice might be the answer. However, that scientific research appears to need more time to possibly extend a dog's life. So without that medical assist, are there any other pets that can literally stand the test of time and live as long as humans . . . or perhaps, even longer?

Oldest Pets

Macaws are known to have an average life span of 50 years. In fact, “Charlie,” a blue macaw born in 1899 was still around and squawking at the ripe old age of 117. Legend has it that Charlie was originally Winston Churchill’s companion, though that claim has been debunked by several close associates.

“Goldie” the goldfish surprised everyone after being purchased at a town fair to live a very long and healthy life. He died at the ripe old age of 45 years old. He was also much larger than the normal goldfish. Must have been something in that water, don't you think?

Two salamanders at the Artis Zoo in the Netherlands reached 52 years old. They also took home a trophy and the Guinness World Record for oldest amphibians.

Slow & Steady wins the race . . .

However, the bragging rights for the “oldest pet ever” has to go the Aldabra tortoise, Adwaita, who lived to the an unbelievable 255 years. She was a pet that out-lived her owner and many others, after she was relocated to live out her days at a Calcutta zoo.

So, it appears that tortoises win the race for consistently being the oldest pets. Most recently, Jeanna Smith reported that her gopher tortoise "George" has been her pet for the last 56 years.

On her 10th birthday in 1962, her father threw her a party which culminated to her delight when he presented her with a tortoise as a gift.

"George is probably my oldest friend," Smith told local newspapers. "He’s just really been a wonderful pet."

"I went off to college and George came with me. He's always gotten strawberries and kiwi for Christmas morning," she added. "He'd ride in my bike basket when I was a little girl," Smith added.

Smith, who is now 65, and George have been inseparable over the years. After all . . . these very old friends know each other as well as they do themselves.

Extinction looms . . .

Over the years, the gopher tortoises have found themselves on increasingly uncertain footing. Once commonly found throughout the U.S., their numbers have decreased dramatically in recent years — where today — most are confined to the state of Florida.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service points to the usual suspects for their decline — habitat destruction, as well as the use of pesticides and herbicides, and the absence of strong laws to protect them.

So while these anecdotal stories keep popping up about their longevity, it’s up to us humans to protect this venerable species from further threats of extinction. Some work is already being done in this regard. Last year, Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources set aside 3,000 acres for the newly minted Alligator Creek Wildlife Management Area, a sprawling stretch aimed at protecting the gopher tortoise.

Perhaps, someday you’ll want to visit some of the oldest reptiles on the planet, dear readers. And if you do, make sure to report back. Love to hear if you slowed down life's hectic pace to appreciate this most precious slow and steady species?

Jeanna Smith & George
                                Jeanna Smith & George