Aging may be a natural life process but for our animal friends, it’s more often a curse: predators pick out the slow, weak and old for an easier kill. As pampered pets and protected in zoos, however, animals have a much greater chance of reaching ages simply not possible in the wild. These 10 “grand paws” lead the senior circuit with the most golden years.
Oldest Rabbit – 18+ Years
According to the House Rabbit Society, rabbits kept indoors may expect to live from 6 to 8 years and rabbits kept outdoors in hutches typically enjoy shorter lifespans, probably due to environmental factors. Though there are a number of notable rabbits who have lived upwards of 14 years, the longest-lived rabbit so far recorded was a wild rabbit caught on August 6th, 1964, in Tasmania, Australia. Subsequently named Flopsy and kept as a pet, the rabbit lived a further 18 years and 10.75 months making his/her actual age at passing on very close to 19 years.
The Guinness Book of Records has handed out framed certificates for the “Oldest Living Rabbit” from time to time; an odd practice considering the length of the so-called record would change by the day until the rabbit died – at which point it would no longer be a Living Rabbit. Examples include, from above left going clockwise: 14-year-old George, 15- to 16-year old Heather, and 16-year-old Hazel.
Oldest Spider – 28 Years
Insects are among the shortest-lived of all creatures, some only surviving a day or so after achieving their adult stage. Spiders aren’t insects but as Arthropods they share many traits with them. Surprisingly, brief lifespans aren’t one of them – a fact that will dismay many who can’t abide the hairy little (or not so little) beasties.
Most people would imagine the average spider would live for a few weeks, couple of months at most… but 28 years?? That does appear to be the case, and the ancient arachnid in question is (or was) a female tarantula captured in Mexico in 1935. Perhaps the spider’s diet – it was a “bird-eating spider” – made the difference. If you can catch & chow down on birds, you can certainly hold off the Grim Reaper for a while.
Oldest Dog – 29 Years
The oldest documented dog recorded was Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog who was born in June of 1910 and died on November 14th, 1939. Bluey could have lived longer but as he was suffering from an undisclosed chronic ailment his owners thought it best that he be put to sleep. Most ACDs live 12 to 15 years and are known for their hard work on farms and ranches. Bluey’s age at death was 29 years, 5 months – the equivalent age of a human being would be about 206!
It seems astonishing that in the past 70 years not a single dog has surpassed ol’ Bluey’s longevity record. A few have come close, however, including 29-year-old Bella (top), Chanel (above left, 21 years and 114 days) and Otto (20 years and 334 days, above right).
Oldest Cat – 38 Years
Cats and dogs are equal, you say? Not when it comes to age – cats do seem to have an advantage in that department. Maybe it’s their more relaxed (in general) character, perhaps its the way they handle the domestic lifestyle, who can really say? What we CAN say is that cats can live well into their 30s and unconfirmed reports have them lasting into their 40s. Guess that’s where the term “cougar” came from. Above are a selection of “old cats” – from left and moving clockwise: Mischief (27), Tizzie (36), Jess (25), and Spike (31)
According to the 2007 edition of the Guinness Book of Records, the reigning longevity champion of cat-dom was Creme Puff, a female tabby born on August 3rd, 1967 and who died on August 6th, 2005) aged 38 years and 3 days. Though an abundance of long-lived cats are regularly reported from the UK, Creme Puff lived with her owner, Jake Perry & family, in Austin, Texas, USA.
Oldest Goldfish – 43 years
Who can live longer, a polar bear (oldest age = 42) or a goldfish? Wrong, it’s the goldfish… well, as long as they don’t come into contact. Reports of goldfish living into their 40s are surprisingly commonplace, with many of them spending their whole lives with the same family whose child won them at a fair or festival. Owners who would like to prolong the lives of their goldfish as long as possible would do well to provide them with a larger aquarium than the stereotypical Goldfish Bowl and feed them a variety of foods – not those smelly fish flakes.
You might think its unfair and a little ironic that as we enter our golden years, our hair turns silver. Well, misery loves company: it happens to goldfish too, though it’s their scales that turn silver. Take “Tish”, for example a Comet Goldfish who, according to the BBC, “died at the age of 43 peacefully in his bowl.” Tish joined the Hand family of Yorkshire, England, in 1956 when then 7-year-old Peter Hand won him at a local fun fair.
Oldest Horse – 62 Years
Horses, at least those lucky enough to be pampered and put out to stud, can live for many decades. Must be the whole “stud” thing. Most horses live 20 to 25 years, which seems a long time considering most thoroughbreds who run in major races like the Kentucky Derby are just 3 years old.
(image via: 1st Art Gallery)
The verifiably oldest horse was Old Billy, born in 1760 and living an astonishing 62 years. As Old Billy had a tough early life as a barge horse towing cargo boats along England’s many inland canals, his exceptional longevity is all the more surprising.
Oldest Bird – 77 Years
Birds can live upwards of 60 years, with some species (parrots, vultures, albatrosses and eagles – no “bald” remarks, if you please) possibly exceeding the century mark. A longevity listing posted by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (Illinois) had a Turkey Buzzard on top, at 118 years – though no corroborating information was included. Long lifespans in birds should not be too surprising, as they are closely related to long-lived reptiles such as turtles and tortoises.
Cookie, a Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo who has resided at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo since 1933 when he was a one-year-old fledgling, is today recognized as the world’s longest living bird – he’s 77. Cookie is considered to be “semi-retired” as public appearances stress him out. He was also diagnosed with for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis in 2007, ailments that may be the result of his being fed only seeds for the first 40 years of his life. Most Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos live from 40 to 60 years in captivity so Cookie is flying well into uncharted territory.
Oldest Elephant – 86 Years
They say an elephant never forgets, which is really saying something in the case of those pachyderms whose ages, if not surpassing their weight, most certainly are higher than their shoe size. Elephants are generally credited with being the longest-lived land mammal, humans aside, with the most common figure given being 70. One side of the ongoing tragedy of elephant poaching is that the oldest animals – often those with the largest and longest tusks – are the ones most frequently targeted and killed. The oldest elephant on record was 86-year-old Lín Wàng (1917 – February 26, 2003). This well-documented elephant served both Chiang Kai Shek and the Imperial Japanese Army before arriving in Taiwan after the communist takeover of China.
(image via: Metro UK)
A candidate for the world’s oldest living elephant is Vatsala (above), a female Indian elephant estimated by her keepers at India’s Panna Tiger Reserve to be in her early 90s. When Vatsala arrived at the sanctuary in 1971 she had already lost her teeth, an indication that she was probably more than 50 years old.
Oldest Koi – 226 years
Beating out elephants, cats, dogs, birds horses and more for anything is an accomplishment, outliving them all is almost unbelievable! Yet it’s been done, and by a fish no less. Not just any fish either – you might guess a shark, sturgeon or giant catfish and you’d be wrong. Nope, it’s a koi. These relatives of the aforementioned goldfish are mainly known for populating Japanese temple fishponds and one such denizen, named Hanako, managed to live an amazing 226 years (1751 to July 17th, 1977).
(image via: Koi360)
Scientists have incontrovertible evidence for Hanako’s extreme age. Much like trees, fish exhibit growth rings on their scales. Careful inspection of Hanako’s scales after her demise confirmed temple record-keeping was accurate – this otherwise unremarkable fish (shown above, in 1966) had managed to survive 226 years of history, geology and climatology. In the year of Hanako’s hatching, President James Madison was born, the town of Georgetown, Maryland was founded, and the elemental metal Nickel was discovered and described.
Oldest Tortoise – 255 Years
Among the most famous long-lived animals are the Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos Islands, the Seychelles, Java and Flores islands in Indonesia, and other islands. These sluggish but majestic creatures were once common on continental landmasses; it’s only on islands mainly free of mammals that they have managed to survive to this day.
The current record holder for Oldest Giant Tortoise is Adwaita, a 550 lb (250 kg) male Aldabra giant tortoise who was presented as a gift to Lord Clive (1725-1774). British seafarers had previously captured Adwaita and 3 other tortoises in the Seychelles islands near Madagascar. Estimated to have been born circa 1750, Adwaita lived at the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata, India, from 1875 to the time of his death on March 23rd, 2006. Subsequent radiocarbon dating of Adwaita’s shell confirmed an age of approximately 255 years.
(image via: Cheezburger.com)
“Treat the elderly with respect”… this age-old (sorry) admonition works for animals as well as for people. As modern medicine boosts the numbers of seniors of ALL species, the records quoted in this post will surely be broken sooner or later, and that’s a good thing. I SAID, THAT’S A GOOD THING!ï»¿