11 Pets With a 5-Year Lifespan (or Less)

11 Pets With a 5-Year Lifespan (or Less)

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Melissa has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and has a bachelor's degree in biology.

Why 5 Years?

There are many reasons why people might seek short-lived pets. There are a surprisingly small number of pets that have around a 5-year life expectancy, but such a trait is in high demand from first-time pet owners who aren’t interested in making a vast long-term commitment or parents seeking a temporary source of enrichment for children. Short-lived pets can also be used as starter animals for kids hoping to prove themselves by providing exemplary care in order to acquire higher maintenance animals like dogs in the future.

As long as the animal is provided for, there is nothing inherently wrong with seeking animals for the above purposes. Most animals can live surprisingly long lives with good care.

It is common for many species of parrots and tortoises to outlive their owners with a lifespan of 50+ years, so opting for animals with limited longevity is not only beneficial, but essential for owners who cannot make big commitments, such as if they will eventually depart for college but still want the experience of a pet while waiting.

However, you should beware of the unfortunate misconceptions that many people have about certain animals, such as goldfish. They do not have short life spans, but instead are often poorly cared for and die prematurely.

11 Pets With Short Life Spans

  1. Hamsters
  2. Bettafish
  3. Guinea pigs
  4. Chameleons
  5. Mice
  6. Rats
  7. Zebra finches
  8. Hedgehogs
  9. Short-tailed opossums
  10. Octopuses
  11. Gerbils

1. Hamsters

This is probably one of America’s most popular small pets. Unfortunately, they are bought too often for small children with suspect suitability. Hamsters are generally very short-lived animals with a lifespan that doesn’t exceed four years. Hamster longevity varies by species, but on average, three years is what most well-cared-for hamsters can hope to achieve.

All hamsters are nocturnal, so while they are popular pets to buy for small children, they may become irritable from excessive handling during their sleep time hours. They make a lot of noise at night, which can be counteracted with silent spinners.

Hamster lifespan info

  • Average: 2-3 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 5 years.
  • Max age reported: 7 years.

Hamster care advice

  1. Provide a large cage: Even for dwarfs, it is common for pet dealers to sell cages that are under the recommended size for the active rodents. Remember that in the wild, hamsters are highly active animals that can cover miles in one night. While an exercise wheel satisfies most of this, hamsters shouldn't be kept in cramp conditions, like what is provided by the standard CritterTrail cage. Some owners have made simple cages out of Ikea shelves.
  2. Feed a varied diet: Remember that dwarf hamsters are prone to diabetes, so they require diets low in sugar. One commercial diet that is recommended as the base is Hazel Hamsters. Good vegetables to give it include broccoli, carrots, and turnips.
  3. Create a complex environment: Add ramps, levels, tunnels, and anything else that keeps the enclosure from being a barren square. Hamsters love to tunnel, so material supporting this is essential. Also, consider the many enrichment choices offered in pet stores. You can include attachments to your pet's cage. Multiple chewing toys are also a must, and occasional treats help to keep things interesting. You can read more about ideal housing here.
  4. Go on Youtube: Search through the numerous videos addressing hamster products, hamster care, and creative ideas to make the pet experience more interesting for both the hamster and owner. Be sure to research beyond this article as well.

Hamster species

  • Syrian Hamster: 2–2.5 years.
  • Campbell Dwarf Hamster: 1.5–2 years.
  • Winter White Dwarf Hamster: 1.5–2 years.
  • Roborovskii Dwarf Hamster: 3 years (2 years in the wild, longest-lived).
  • Chinese Dwarf Hamster: 1.5–2 years.

2. Bettafish (Siamese Fighting Fish)

Bettas are extremely popular fish that are often kept in horrendous conditions within chain pet stores and Walmarts. On average, it is likely that they don't survive a few months in captivity. With the proper care, they can live around three years. Some individuals can exceed this number.

Bettafish lifespan info

  • Average: 3–4 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 5 years.
  • Max age reported: 9 years.

Bettafish care advice

  1. Tank size: Do not keep these fish in the small bowls that they are typically sold and marketed in. Planted jars are also unsuitable for them. Bettas might survive in this size for a short period of time, but that is not an optimal quality of life for these fish. They should be housed in at least a two-gallon aquarium, but at least five gallons is ideal.
  2. Feed it proper fish food: Frozen blood worms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are recommended.
  3. Water quality: The quality of the water is the main reason fish die in captivity, so proper filtration and water changes must be carried out. This is more imperative for the small tanks that bettas are generally kept in. It is recommended to change out the water twice a week. Temperature must be adequate and maintained as well. They prefer warmer water, so a temperature of around 74 degrees is recommended.

3. Guinea Pig

Another widely popular small pet is the guinea pig. These animals make good pets for people unsure about their long-term pet keeping abilities and for young children, provided they are willing to clean cages at least every other day. They require a simple diet and enclosure.

These animals generally live for five years, but it is not uncommon for well-cared for individuals to exceed this number. If you must have an animal that won't be around after five years, this isn't the animal for you.

It has been reported that long-haired varieties of guinea pigs have shorter lives.

Guinea pig lifespan info

  • Average: Roughly 4–5 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 5–8 years.
  • Max age reported: 14 years.

Guinea pig care advice

  1. Feed it a healthy diet: As with all animals, guinea pigs will generally live longer if consideration is given to what they eat. Guinea pigs should have a high-quality pelleted diet as well as Timothy hay or orchard grass (not alfalfa hay). The diet should contain or be supplemented with vitamin C in the form of oranges, kiwi, parsley beet greens, and other sources. You can check out this comprehensive guide for more nutrition info.
  2. Guinea pigs are social: It might help to have more than one animal. Be sure to pair animals properly according to gender and the personality of the individual. Males fight sometimes, so monitor the situation and be aware. They should also consistently have some cuddle time with their owners.
  3. Caging should be appropriately sized: C&C cages are popular choices that provide ample room and are the easiest to clean. Many owners add attractive ledges that lead to secondary levels for even more exploration room. You can use this guide to get an idea of how big your cage should be.

4. Chameleons

There are two species of commonly kept chameleons that have expected lifespans of five years and under; the panther chameleon and the veiled chameleon. Female panther chameleons have an even shorter lifespan (three years) if they are used as breeders (most owners buy males for their colors).

These animals require advanced care in comparison to the other animals on this list. They are specialized lizards that are prone to stress.

Unfortunately for chameleons, they live a high-stress life which eventually takes a toll on them. In the wild, their lifespans are reduced to around three years for males and two for females.

Chameleon lifespan info

  • Average: 5 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 6–8 years.
  • Max age reported: Claims of 13 years for veiled and around 8 years for panther.

Chameleon care advice

  1. Make preparations: Research these animals thoroughly before considering them. Also, be sure to set up their cage in advance before bringing the animal home. They are not inexpensive, depending on how much you're willing to spend for a short-lived pet ($200-$400 range).
  2. Diet: Chameleons require a varied diet of insects. This includes crickets, mealworms, wax moths, and roaches.
  3. Vet care: Visits to a veterinarian are recommended since chameleons are prone to developing metabolic bone disease.
  4. Get a proper living environment: Babies require smaller housing before being moved to a specialized tall and vertical screen cage around four feet tall and two feet wide. Other aspects of husbandry that require research include lighting (they need exposure to UVA rays), humidity, live plants (for climbing), and potential health problems.

5. Mice

It's not really a shocker that mice are short-lived, being small and high-strung.

If you want a temporary pet, mice seem to fit the bill. There are no worries about the possibility that they might live past three years since this is extremely rare.

There are many varieties of mice, but for the most part, they will not live longer than a mere two years. Non-domesticated mice might live longer, possibly up to five years.

Many strains of domesticated mice are prone to health conditions such as tumors and immune deficiencies. Mice are the model organism of choice used by scientists to explore these conditions in the laboratory, so there is a wealth of longevity studies that mouse keepers can explore.

As with the other species on this list, diet, stress reduction, and a healthy environment are paramount to reaching a three-year lifespan for your pet mouse. Mice, like other small rodents, are very active, so do not underestimate how much size their enclosure needs. You can check out this guide for more info on caring for a mouse.

Mice lifespan info

  • Average: 2 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 3 years.
  • Max age reported: 7 years.

Mice care advice

  • Housing: Multi-level housing is recommended since mice like to climb. A wire cage works best. Aspen shavings work as good bedding.
  • Diet: Pellets are readily available at pet stores. You could supplement this with small amounts of fruits and vegetables.
  • Watch for swelling: Tumors are fairly common in mice. Unfortunately, they are often malignant. Most tumors can be surgically removed, but they often come back.

6. Rats

The second most popular model organism in research are rats, and they too have plenty of longevity committed to them.

Rats possess an unappreciated intelligence and do make wonderful pets. They form emotional bonds with their owners and are quite playful. They can even be trained to use a litter box and perform tricks. Do not short them out on the best care just because of their unfair reputation.

Rat longevity is improved mainly by genetics, but quality of life and nutrition also play important roles.

Rat lifespan info

  • Average: 2–3.5 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 4 years.
  • Max age reported: 7 years and 4 months.

Rat care advice

  • They are social: You may consider getting a pair of rats. They are very social animals and do better if they have a buddy. Two males will get along if they are litter mates or were introduced at a young age. You shouldn't get a male and female together unless you want a lot of rats very quickly.
  • Diet: Ready-made pellets are available. You can also give them some fruits, vegetables, and mealworms.
  • Exercise: Rats needs a considerable amount of exercise. Large cages and a wheel are recommended.

7. Zebra Finch

Zebra finches are the shortest-lived bird species that are commonly kept as pets. They barely make this list as their minimum expected lifespan with good care starts at five years. They could live as long as 10 years.

It is possible that these small birds can live even longer. They are generally low-maintenance pets as they feed on seeds (other birds, such as cockatiels, should not be fed diets like this).

These birds are not interactive pets, so their permanent caging must allow for plenty of flight room so the birds can get exercise. There should be one pair per cage.

Zebra finch lifespan info

  • Average: 5 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 6–8 years.
  • Max age reported: 12 years.

Zebra finch care advice

  • Cage dimensions: These birds prefer to move horizontally, so their cage should ideally be longer. A tall cage is not vital. 30 inches long and 18 inches high is a good size. Be sure to include swings and ladders.
  • Where to place them: These birds will do well in a quiet corner in your home. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near AC. They don't crave social interaction, so an isolated corner will do well.
  • Diet: A good quality seed mix and some greens will be the ideal feed. Romaine lettuce, kale, and spinach are ideal.

8. Domesticated Hedgehogs

Despite their appearance, hedgehogs are not rodents. They are also not related to porcupines. The white and grey species that are normally seen in the pet trade are referred to as African pygmy hedgehogs, and they are actually hybrids. Despite extensive breeding in captivity, this species maintains strong similarities with their wild cousins. This should be taken into consideration when deciding on an enclosure, methods of handling, and exercise requirements. Cancer is a common cause of death in older hedgehogs. Keep in mind that some states ban owning hedgehogs, so check your local laws if you are interested in having one as a pet.

Hedgehog lifespan info

  • Average: 3–5 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 6–10 years.
  • Max age reported: 10 years.

Hedgehog care advice

  1. Exercise: Weight gain due to lack of exercise can shorten a hedgehog's lifespan and promote fatty liver disease. A means of exercise must be provided, and the cage must be large. Not all hedgehogs will use hamster wheels. Here is some great info on housing recommendations.
  2. Stress: Do not handle often, and when handling, be gentle and aware of the stress this might cause.
  3. Diet: Feed the hedgehog a balanced diet to promote longevity. Food can include fruit, insects, cooked meats, and vegetables. Commercial hedgehog food is available.

9. Short-Tailed Opossum

These animals look like rodents, but they are actually marsupials like kangaroos. They possess a prehensile tail. These solitary animals are insectivorous, but in captivity, they eat prepared foods supplemented with various animal protein sources.

Their dispositions vary as they require a patient owner that can tame them down. They can exercise with a correctly-sized hamster wheel.

Short-tailed opossum lifespan info

  • Average: 4 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 5–6 years.
  • Max age reported: 8 years.

Short-tailed opossum care advice

  • Legality: These animals are considered exotic pets, so be sure to check your local laws before looking into owning one of these animals.
  • Housing: A secure enclosure is strongly recommended as these animals are quite good at escaping. A wire cage may work best. Corncob sheddings is an ideal bedding. Their cage should have some type of perch for them to climb.
  • Diet: Manufactured feed is now available for these animals. You could also give it mealworms, fruits, and vegetables.

10. Octopus

As one would guess, this is a very uncommon pet. It's not for beginners to marine invertebrates. By the time most octopuses reach adulthood (which is when people keep them as pets), they have, at best, a year left to live.

Unfortunately, despite the considerable effort one must make to successfully care for them, they are short-lived creatures. However, they are perfect for the adventurous, advanced aquarium enthusiast that doesn't want to make a long-term commitment. Octopuses are famous for being intelligent. They require escape-proof tanks.

Octopus lifespan info

  • Average: 6 months to 5 years, depending on the species.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 2–5 years.

Octopus care advice

  • Be knowledgeable: Different species have different needs. They grow to different sizes, and each species needs different water temperatures. The California two-spot octopus is the most common species held as a pet.
  • Tank size: The ideal tank size for a California two-spot octopus is 50 gallons minimum. Bigger is always better, and it may be a necessity for larger species. The tank should have lots of hiding places and caves.
  • Diet: Octopuses are hunters. Many owners report that they prefer to be given live food. Their food can include crabs, shrimps, snails, and small fish.

11. Gerbil

Just like with rats, mice, and hedgehogs, longevity with gerbils depends on genetics and quality of care. Gerbils require similar environments to hamsters, but they are primarily diurnal, meaning they will synch better with your schedule. Here is a great guide for tips on caring for a gerbil.

Gerbil lifespan info

  • Average: 3–4 years.
  • Well-cared for + luck: 5 years.
  • Max age reported: 8 years.

Gerbil care advice

  • Housing: House gerbils in at least a 20-gallon aquarium with plenty of the recommended bedding. They love to burrow and tunnel, so provide inches of the material.
  • Diet: Feed them a premium gerbil food and supplement them with fresh vegetables.
  • Daily care: Handle carefully and make sure they get plenty of exercise.

Other Pets That Live for Five Years on Average

A few other pets have lifespan averages a little above 5 years includes:

  • Rabbits
  • Prairie dogs
  • Anole lizards
  • Flying squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Ferrets

Pets That Live Longer Than Five Years

Here is a list of pets that live longer than what most people think.

  • Goldfish: 10-15 years
  • Hermit Crabs: 30 years
  • Small parrots (budgies, cockatiels, parakeets): 15+ years
  • Small snakes: 15+ years
  • Turtles and tortoises: 40+
  • Iguanas: 20-25 years
  • Common pet frogs: 15+ years

© 2014 Melissa A Smith

Bleu on July 15, 2020:


Most places that give out information on hermit crabs are giving out wrong information. Like the larger pet store chains, they will say they can go in tiny cages with a wet sponge for water and fish gravel. In that case yes they only live 1 - 2 years...

With proper care, a 10 - 20 gallon tank, longs and bushes for them to explore, a nice most (but not soaking) dig-able substrate (Such as coco fiber or echo earth), two water dishes of salt and fresh water (NO SPONGE! It spreds germs an fungus and can kill them.) then they can certainly live a very long time in captivity to 20 or 30 years, or even a little past that.

Emma on July 03, 2020:

Do hermit crabs really live for 30 years in captivity? I’ve heard from numerous sources saying that they don’t live that long in captivity and only live 30 years in their natural habitat. I may be wrong but I think that that isn’t quite correct. Great article though!!

lulu on June 03, 2019:

is there a way to keep your pets from stinking up your bedroom? if anyone has an answer please tell me.

me on January 10, 2019:

Any pet can be 2-4 life

if u are bad at taking care of the pet

Melissa Sowers on October 26, 2018:

I have 2 bettas that are 10. They do not have short life spans if you take care of them properly.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 26, 2018:

Thank you Zoe.

Zoe Krichec from USA on August 20, 2018:

Great article! Had a lot of great information in a very easy and fun to read layout.

Uglyiest human being ever on July 23, 2018:

No hamsters are at Max 100 I got my hamster her cage and all her food plus all her tubes for about $80

Kiwi on July 17, 2018:

the cost of a hamster can be 100 to 300 dollars so... yeah and you have to get them 40 gallon...

Ro on December 02, 2017:

One of my ginuea piggys lived till it was about 4. The other one lived till it was almost 10.

We've had 4 pet rats, and my sisters also had many. They actually seem o only live about 2 years. We all had females, they almost all got mammary or brain cancers by about 2, one had to be put down she was in so much pain. Basically, they make absolutely lovely pets, they're smart, friendly ect. but not for the faint of heart. Towards the end of their lives you can be dealing with blood, tumours, and near constant care... it's quite upsetting, so I definitly wouldn't reccomend them for kids who might not understand or know how to deal with such specific issues in older age or get upset easily.

sarah on December 22, 2016:

I wouldn't do guinea pigs mine lived to be 8

Kate Bowles on August 24, 2015:

Great article, full of good information. My daughter is a sophomore in high school, and wants a pet, so short lifespan will be ideal for us.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 19, 2015:

Dez that's an excellent suggestion, wish I thought of that.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on June 18, 2015:

Also excellent advice! Older pets need great homes too.

dez on June 18, 2015:

remember if you want a pet that wont live more then 5 years, you can also adopt an old cat or dog. Older pets make great pets and are usually easier as they come pre-potty trained. :)

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on June 04, 2014:

Yes they can, and live albino rats can be used for food everywhere by Anchorage itself. There really aren't any wild or feral populations of reptiles other than turtles. Not only does the cold winter get to them, but the fact that there is very little sunlight during the winter months also causes problems for their survival.

ZookeeperByNature on June 04, 2014:

But now this begs the question - can frozen rats still be shipped and used as reptile food in Alaska?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 02, 2014:

Breck123-- Now that's funny. Large snakes are legal, but their FOOD isn't. Good, maybe that will make people unable to feed rats live. On a more serious note, those reptiles would never survive a New York winter, so they certainly wouldn't last in an Alaskan winter, but I don't think domesticated rats would either.

Breck123 on June 02, 2014:

Just checked Alaska's regulations on exotics. Your right, rats are banned! Yet, they allow large pythons, alligators, and crocodiles..... Now don't get me wrong, I believe that anyone has the right to own whatever they want, but I mean, if your going to allow large reptiles, why ban rats?

Rozalyn Winters on June 02, 2014:

Wow. Who knew? They do make awesome pets. I'd have to agree, I don't think the docile fancy rat would stand a chance against the wild black rats.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 02, 2014:

Penny Sebring-- My goodness, how silly. Not to try to make light of exotic pets and their relationship with the ecosystem, but if we haven't seen any outbreaks within the continental U.S. with domesticated rats despite IMMENSE popularity as pets, including in the warm regions (Florida, Texas, Louisiana), how do rats have a snowball's chance of proliferating in Alaska? I doubt any domesticated rat would stand a chance against the real invader, Rattus rattus (the black rat). I'm betting you have domesticated cats running around outdoors though, right Penny? This stuff drives me mad.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on June 02, 2014:

Only albino pet rats are allowed anywhere in Alaska, and no rats at all allowed in Anchorage. The government up here is concerned about them escaping and becoming a danger to the ecosystem.

Rozalyn Winters on June 01, 2014:

Yes--the cleaning was a real pain--but it was worth it. :-) I think the hamsters really enjoyed all the different rooms. They'd specify places to store their food throughout and every single one loved to sleep in the smallest box that was perched out of the top of the unit. I think it made them feel safe and cozy.

I was wondering about the illegal rats as well. That is really a bummer, Penny. We had fancy rats growing up and they were awesome pets--so intelligent, you could train some of them to come to their names! I'm thinking of getting my son a couple of them soon. I hope the laws change there--I never knew there were places that rats were illegal as pets. :-)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 01, 2014:

Penny Sebring-- Rats are illegal where you are? Wow.

Rozalyn Winters-- Yes, I remember the gunk that would get trapped in Habitrail products. We kept a few hamsters in my childhood.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on May 31, 2014:

My favorites of this group were always the fancy rats. They are so friendly and smart. I enjoyed training them when I lived where I was allowed to have them. If they ever become legal in my town, I'll be one of the first people to bring them home!

Rozalyn Winters on May 31, 2014:

This is really well written and informative. I grew up with hamsters and the Habitrail tube system. It was so much fun to make cool quarters for my furry friends (love that pic!!) but the cleaning of those systems was quite a lot of work--lots of nooks and crannies. :-)

I agree that you need to be careful about the age you start kids with these critters, not only for care-taking reasons, but also to be sure the child can cope with their shorter life-span. I recall being very upset having coming home from school one day, and finding out that my most favorite pet had passed away.

Parents need to handle these situations gently and with care. Keeping small pets is one way to help children learn about the circle of life, especially for city-kids who aren't exposed to farms, etc.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 30, 2014:

Thanks marieloves

Marie from Canada on May 30, 2014:

Great hub, Melissa! I always wanted a hedgehog because they are so cute.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 27, 2014:

Thanks TrudyVan

TrudyVan Curre from South Africa on May 27, 2014:

Hello there. wow what an awesome hub.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 22, 2014:

Hi Zookeepers, I don't know, it depends on what you mean by long-lived. Maybe an article about pets that live at least 50+ could be interesting. Nothing comes to mind for the second question, I'll let you know if I think of something!

IJR112 on May 22, 2014:

So sad about the guinea pigs! I love them!

ZookeeperByNature on May 22, 2014:

I remember having hamsters as a kid and being so disappointed when they died. (even though the little buggers would never be tame, which is what I get for buying from petco. Still loved them though.) Since then, I've figured I'd rather take on the commitment and have my pet to enjoy for many years to come, and if nothing too disastrous occurs in the span of my lifetime, hopefully my first ball python will be there to witness all my major life events haha.

Anyway, a good article as usual, Melissa. I was unaware that chameleons had such short lifespans; I'd half expect them to live for well over 10 years. For those of us who commit as much as possible to our animals for as long as possible though, do you think it'd be possible to write an article on some long lived pets? That would be wonderful.

Also, I've encountered another subject recently I'd like your insight on. I've noticed many animal rights groups claim to be animal welfare organizations when they are anything but advocating for true animal welfare. Do you know of any real animal welfare groups that actually do advocate for responsibly keeping animals, such as pets, livestock, and zoo specimens? It'd be great if you can give me any information on this topic, seeing how there's not much clarity in the ongoing animal rights vs animal welfare debate and with the onslaught of more and more laws popping up every year, it'd be great to get some information on this. Thanks!

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 21, 2014:

Thanks grand old lady, you are correct!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on May 21, 2014:

I didn't know there were so many pets that people could have that live short lives. We had hamsters, but they age so quickly and sadly, they aren't as cute as when they were young. Having a pet that dies young requires a lot of love and commitment, even when they age very quickly. Great hub with lots of interesting and helpful information.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 21, 2014:

Thanks Dr.Mark, the internet is an amazing resource, but it can be a double-edged sword. Gee, I didn't think you were at an age where a tegu could outlive you, based on your photo.

Meisjunk-- Awesome, I was experimenting with that. Maybe get a 10-gallon tank with a screen top and reptile latches...

jantamaya, great idea, but dogs are so human-like sometimes, losing them can be painful. Hopefully your dog will enjoy many more years, adopting an older dog is a wonderful deed.

tirelesstraveler-- Thanks!

Judy Specht from California on May 21, 2014:

Beautifully put together article. Nice work. Voted up and interesting.

Maria Janta-Cooper from UK on May 21, 2014:

Great idea for a hub. Voted up. I have a rescued 10-year-old dog. When you take an older rescued dog, they won't have a huge life span either. So around 5 Years - I hope...

Jennifer Kessner from Pennsylvania on May 21, 2014:

Great article, and well-written! I love your gray bulleted points for lifespan. My eyes went right to them, and it would be easy scrolling for people!

I've had a betta fish and a mouse, and I loved having each of them. The fish unfortunately disagreed with my cat. =3 I'm hesitant to get another one, but they're so lovely! I'll probably give in.

Voted up and awesome and interesting. =)

Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 21, 2014:

Interesting topic, since there are people out there who do not want long lived pets. I remember my first Jackson´s Chameleons, and being so disappointed when they died so young. (This was years before all of the great info available on the internet.) I worry that my Tegus will outlive me but am glad they are around for a long time.

Voted up and interesting.

The List of Animals with The Shortest Lifespan

The secret of having a long lifespan is fascinating. But unfortunately is closed so tight that human in peril looking the way for expanding their lifespan. Nowaday, only a few of us made it to live until 90 years. Hazardous free radical, rapid change in metabolism, body and brain proportion. Dangerous disease is also the factor of why human can’t managed to have a long lifespan. In the other world, animal are also likely facing the same problem, a short lifespan. And here they are, the list of animals with the shortest lifespan.

1. Hamster

shortest lifespan animal – Hamster

Hamster is a type of rodent. They are commonly kept as an adorable pet. They are energetic animals and they can keep their food excess inside their cheeks. They are usually remain underground in the wild. Hamster’s diet consist of various nuts. Their sexual maturity is vary, depending on their species. Hamsters are breeding seasonally and they can produce more than 4 offsprings each time. Some hamster varieties have a gestation duration lasting as little as 16 days, and litters can have up to loads or more infants. Hamsters are around to entertain their proprietors for 2-4 years. After getting to sexual maturation as early as one month aged, hamsters reproduce and also replicate numerous times a year.

2. North American Opossum

shortest lifespan animal – North American Opussum

As a marsupial creature, their lifespan is short, which is uncommon. The opossum especially for Virginia opossum only live for only two years. The adult have a strong tail and used for grip The males will deeply growl and they can raised the growl volume as the danger won’t back off. While the babies are making a sound like a rattlesnal to drive away their predators.

3. Mouse

shortest lifespan animal – mouse

Such a little animal, yet the bane of lots of a house owner all over the world. These little creatures have actually triggered people to have pet cats as pet dogs, as well as stimulated invention by the developers of the mousetrap. They’re infamously challenging to discover as well as remove as soon as they have actually lodged themselves in a house, and also are respected breeders.

Tiny as they are, they strike concern right into the hearts of several, as well as can jump, climb up, run, or even swim, remarkably well provided their dimension. Surprisingly enough, home computer mice do not see in color, although their hearing much outstrips people, being able to listen to also ultrasound waves!

Adult ladies could breed every fifteen to twenty one days, come into estrus when they are exposed to male pee, and also can birth 5 to 10 young per litter,.

4. Mosquito Fish

shortest lifespan animal – Mosquito Fish

This little fish, additionally referred to as Gambusia, come from the Gulf of Mexico, where they survive their short lives, of around two years.

What really makes them appealing is that although they are so short lived, they take care of to damage several conventions throughout then. For something, they are very hardy for their size. They can survive in extremely briny waters, where other fish would certainly not, and also for short amount of times, in water that depends on forty 2 levels Celsius.

The female mosquitofish is larger than the males. They are also have a longer lifespan than the males. The interesting fact about this fish is, they are resisted from the impact of saline water to protect their egg inside their belly. Not all fishes could stand in this situation.

5. Salt Water Shrimp

shortest lifespan animal – Salt Water Shrimp

The brine shrimp, is a type of shellfish, located only in seawater lakes. These inadequate little relatives of the crab and lobster have only one year in the world.

6. Panther Chameleon

shortest lifespan animal – Panther Chameleon – image :

The Panther Chameleon is crowned as the shortest lifespan of reptile. They are originated from Madagascar Their main diet is consist of worms, crickets, and others insects. The Panther Chameleon is also jnown as their ability to submerged themselves with the environment color so they can easily hide from their natural predators.

7. Robin

shortest lifespan animal – Robin – image :

One of the most typical sorts of birds, the robin only graces our spring period with its song for 1-2 years. Leaving the nest only two weeks after hatching, the robin fasts to join its friends in their look for meals while still begging its moms and dads for nutrition also. Robins reach sexual maturation at about one years of age and also breed one or two times a year. Female robins lay 3-5 eggs at a time.

8. Worker Honey Bees

shortest lifespan animal – Honey Worker Bee

Worker honey bees live brief yet immensely busy lives that last regarding four weeks. What is absolutely unbelievable is that these are all female, as well as invest their whole presence helping the good of the hive. If they stray from that objective as well as attempt to protect the hive versus a predator with a poke of their stinger, they are entrusted a gaping, fatal wound where the stinger was torn from their physical bodies.

9. Houseflies

shortest lifespan animal – Houseflies

This fly is responsible of various stomachache problem. They carried various viruses due to their gross nature. Luckily, they only live for 4 weeks. Within their short period of lifespan, the females can produce up to a thousand eggs, pretty amazing isn’t it?

10. Drone Ants

shortest lifespan animal – Drone Ant – imaage :

In a huge ant colony, there are worker ant, soldier ant, and the queen itself. They already have a specific role for themselves. And there is drone ants, the male members of this huge colony. THey do nothing but mating with the queen. They only have 3 weeks of lifespan. However, drone ant’s role is important to ensure the existence of their colonies.

11. Gastrorichs

shortest lifespan animal – Gastrorichs – image :

The gastrotrich is in fact a kind of animal: marine or fresh water micro microorganisms, with an optimum size of just 3 millimeters. There are many different types, however all real-time incredibly brief lives.

Their lives are uneventful also, spent drifting amongst the debris in their watered-down house, occasionally attaching themselves to an area for a while, before loosening themselves once again to drift on the currents, eating, and also little else.

Even with this laid back, these little animals normally have a life expectancy of typically, only three days.

12. Mayflies

shortest lifespan animal – Mayflies

Mayflies is probably the most shortest lifespan in animal kingdom. They only have maximum lifespan of just 24 hours. There are also a report that mayflies dies in just several hours in the day they were just come out from their pupae. Their main purpose of life is to mate as long as possible to continuing their descendants. They make a group and dance together on all surfaces nearby.

Top 10 Short-lived Creatures

Having already covered the creatures with the longest lifespan we thought it would only be right to do a feature on the creatures with the shortest lifespan. Here we have the Top 10 creatures with the shortest lifespan, counting down from 5 years we kick off this list with a common pet that everyone recognizes, the Rabbit.

Rabbits – Average Lifespan: 5 Years


The Rabbit, much loved and a common pet for kids around the world. So, why exactly is an animal that lives usually for a maximum of 5 years such a great pet? If you decide to buy a pet rabbit for your kid then you need to consider that in at the most – 5 years time your going to have to explain to your kid that ‘fluffles’ has snuffed it, not exactly ideal but who knows. Anyway, the common rabbit may only have a short lifespan but the species ensure their survival by breeding excessively, this keeps the population count up and steadily increasing.

Hamsters – Average Lifespan: 4 Years


The Hamsters again are very common pets with kids the world around even though they too, like the Rabbit, have an extremely short lifespan. Averaging anywhere between 2 – 4 years the Hamsters make up for this short lifespan in the same way as Rabbits, excessive breeding. Hamsters can reach sexual maturity as young as 1 month old and can give birth multiple times a year, each time possibly bearing multiple young.

Mice – Average Lifespan: 3 Years


Mice have a very short lifespan which isn’t helped by the fact that they are classed as pests and are constantly exterminated by humans. With a maximum lifespan of around 3 years the common house mice breed with great efficiency with femles being able to breed once or twice a month, bearing anywhere between 4 – 10 young in each birth.

Mosquito Fish – Average Lifespan: 2 Years

Mosquito Fish

The palm sized Mosquito Fish is a master of endurance and can be found in the Gulf of Mexico where they are known as Gambusia. These hardy little fish only have a short lifespan but unlike most species of fish they give birth to live young, which in turn boosts the Mosquito Fish’s chances of survival as a species. On top of birthing live young the Mosquito Fish can also give birth multiple times per mating season and each time have to between 50 & 100 young, they can also survive in worse conditions than other fish which adds to their continued survival as a species.

Labord’s Chameleon – Average Lifespan: 1 Year

Labord’s chameleon

Labord’s chameleon is a fairly recent discovery and is a type of chameleon that can only be found on the island of Madagascar. These unique chameleons only have a life cycle of 1 year which makes it one of the shorter living ‘larger’ creatures on this list. Every year the Young are born in November and become sexually mature by the end of January – February, mating occurs and before the young are born again in November the entire adult population of these unique chameleons dies off.

Dragonflies – Average Lifespan: 4 Months


The strange thing about Dragonflies is that they can take forever to emerge from the pupal stage, which essentially signs their death warrant. Dragonfies can be dazzling in beauty and as such are popular inspirations for art and tattoos however this doesn’t do anything to help with their small lifespan of around 4 months, especially after they could have spent anywhere up to 5 years waiting to emerge from the pupal stage.

Bees – Average Lifespan: 4/5 Weeks


Now where getting down to the really small lifespans, 4 or 5 weeks.. is there much point? Maybe 4 or 5 weeks is not a lot to humans however to a Bee it literally is a lifetime. The most common of all bee species that you are likely to see are worker bees who actually spend the vast, vast majority or their 5 week life working to improve the hive. Now if you had to spend all of your life working on the hive I’m sure you would be pretty protective of your life’s work and the bee is no different. The downside to this of course is that if the bee does try to protect the hive by stinging a dangerous animal or predator then the bee will die as when its stinger detaches the gaping wound where the stinger was is always fatal to the bee. How is that fair?

Drone Ants – Average Lifespan: 2 Weeks

Drone Ants

Although the Drone Ant has a very short lifespan of around 2 weeks its life couldn’t be any different to that of the previous entry, the worker bee. There is no life of endless work for this creature, the job of the Drone Ant literally entails eating and breeding. Now this may seem like heaven for some people but is the cost for this easy life really worth it? 2 weeks? probably not.

Gastrotrichs – Average Lifespan: 3 Days


You thought 2 weeks was bad? try 3 days! The Gastrotrichs may not look like much but they are indeed a living creature. Now you would expect that a creature that really doesnt exert itself in any way would probably live a long life.. but that isn’t the case. The Gastrotrich’s life is made up of floating on water currents and occasionally eating, 3 days of this and it probably dies from boredom.

Mayflies – Maximum Lifespan: 24 HOURS!


Here we have it. The number one creature with the shortest life is the Mayfly, who is lucky to achieve a lifespan of just 24hrs, that’s 1 day folks in case it hasn’t sunk in. If you take it right down to the basics then you will have to agree that every creature on the planet lives to help ensure the survival of its species by reproducing. The Mayfly is no different, however that literally is all it does with its life. The Mayfly’s life can be as short as 30 minutes depending on the species and after hatching they mate, lay eggs and die.

1 of 4

Small Mammals: Guinea Pigs

Why They’re Easy…

If your child wants a pet that he can cuddle, a guinea pig is a pleasing handful and plenty entertaining. He will squeal with delight at the sound of your refrigerator opening (thus the “pig” in guinea pig), and when he’s happy, he’ll jump for joy, kicking his heels up in the air. (This is called “popcorning.”) Many other pet rodents are nocturnal, which means that they sleep during prime human playtime. Guinea pigs, however, are nappers, so they’re usually up for a visit (and a tasty snack) when your kids are. And unlike their hamster brethren, guinea pigs don’t tend to bite or require an exercise wheel that will squeak through the night.

…OK, Not That Easy

You’ll need at least four square feet of cage per animal—a good chunk of real estate to maintain. Quality out-of-cage time with your child is key, too. “If you don’t handle your pig regularly, he’ll probably be scared and try to leap away from you,” says Valarie Tynes, a veterinarian at Premier Veterinary Behavior Consulting, in Sweetwater, Texas.

Life span: 4 to 6 years.

Start-up costs: Guinea pigs begin at about $30. A suitable cage and gear can run $50 and up.

Having a pet is not just about you. When getting a pet, you instantly become responsible for another living being's life, comfort, happiness, needs and wellbeing.

If you are choosing a pet for your child, it is best to think well and hard about whether or not they can handle delicate creatures and whether or not they will consider and respect the pet's needs. Before getting a pet, it is best to consult a veterinarian about any care requirements, financial costs, healthcare needs and other must-haves.


From dogs to goldfish, all animals need adequate space to be healthy and happy – you need to keep in mind the animal's full-grown size and make sure that you can accommodate them in your home forever. Most pets also need both outdoor and indoor space, a factor which you also need to consider.


It is ideal to keep in mind the pet's lifespan – especially if you have children. They get extremely attached to their pets, more so than adults at times. You need to consider your child's emotional attachment – if you choose a pet with a lifespan of just two years, you can add a lot of stress to your child when the time comes for the pet to pass.

However, when choosing a pet with a longer lifespan, you need to keep in mind that pets are forever, and there might come a time when you will be the sole provider for your family pet if your children move out when they grow older.

1. Cats

Cats are a cute addition to the family. There are several basic requirements which you need to provide for your cat to have a healthy and fulfilled life. We suggest adopting from a licensed cat shelter instead – not only is this more fulfilling, but you can ask the shelter volunteers about a particular cat's temperament when visiting.

Basic Cat Care

  • Cats need regular social interactions. While some cats prefer to interact with humans, some of these furry beauties need the company of fellow felines.
  • Invest in toys and other stimulants for your cat, such as laser pointers, balls or toys.
  • Keep in mind that cats need to get suitable and regular meals, along with a steady supply of fresh water.
  • You need to change their litter tray at least once a day. If you have more than one cat, provide each with its own litter tray.
  • Avoid collar bells – they can be detrimental to your cat's hearing acuity.
  • Groom your cat regularly. Longhaired cats need to be groomed once daily.
  • Neuter your cat and provide it with flea treatment.
  • Provide your cat with veterinary check-ups at least once a year.

2. Dogs

Dogs are known as man's best friend for a very good reason. They're loyal and extremely lovable companions. Consider visiting a shelter if you are looking to adopt a dog. If you are adamant about getting a purebred, make sure that you can provide it with the care, love and living conditions it needs to be healthy and happy.

Even though dogs are extremely rewarding pets, you need to keep in mind that they need heaps of social interaction and time. Leaving a dog alone for long hours might lead to anxiety. Dogs are extremely reliant and as a general rule of thumb, they should not be left alone for more than four to six hours a day.

Basic Dog Care

  • Take your dog out for a walk at least once a day (depending on the breed)
  • Provide regular meals, along with a steady supply of fresh water.
  • Provide your dog with veterinary check-ups at least once a year.
  • Make sure that your dog gets regular exercise.
  • Interact, socialise and spend as much quality time with your dog as possible.
  • Train your dog and teach him basic commands.
  • Spay or neuter your dog.
  • Long-haired dogs need regular grooming. Learn how to provide your dog with basic grooming such as nail trimming, coat brushing and washing. You can also contact a reputable grooming company that you trust for regular grooming appointments.

3. Rabbits

Rabbits are anything but easy.

But they're also very rewarding – provided that you have space and time for them. Rabbits can be quite expensive to keep, and most of them can wreak havoc on your home.

Rabbits are cute, but they're also serial chewers. They can chew on stray electrical wires, furniture, clothes and even shoes.

Contrary to popular beliefs you need more than just a small cage to provide your rabbit with adequate housing. They need constant movement and loads of exercise, so make sure that your rabbit has access to both outdoor and indoor environments. Keeping your rabbit in a hutch or cage for long periods is extremely stressful, it can also cause health problems.

An important thing to keep in mind is that rabbits shed a lot of hair a couple of times a year, so make sure that you are prepared to deal with that.

Basic Rabbit Care

  • Rabbitproof your home. Rabbits are very sneaky and can easily get away from their designated areas. Cover and hide all wires, books, houseplants and other stuff you do not want your rabbit to chew.
  • Do not leave your rabbit in isolated areas, as they still need heaps of social interaction.
  • Rabbits need a constant supply of fresh hay, water and vegetables. Certain vegetables as some should be given sparingly, consult your vet prior to feeding.
  • Take your rabbit for checkups at least once a year, twice when it's over five years of age.
  • Provide loads of entertainment. Anything from cardboard boxes to baby keys, toilet paper tube to grass woven accessories should be fine. Never give your rabbit access to ink-stained items like newspapers.
  • Grooming is extremely important for rabbits. You can ask your vet for help when it comes to nail clipping and coat maintenance.

4. Fish

Fish are an ideal pet for people who have loads of time on their hands and heaps of space for a large aquarium. Contrary to popular belief, a fishbowl is not enough – not even for one single betta fish. When purchasing fish, you need to keep in mind that they're a huge commitment. You need to clean their tank very regularly and also be prepared to check water temperature and alkaline levels frequently. You also need to keep an extremely stable ecosystem in your aquarium.

Basic Fish Care

  • Invest in a good filtration system. You need to keep in mind that one fish needs a minimum of 2.5 gallons of water. The more space they have, the healthier and happier they will be.
  • Fish need water heaters for constant water temperature – sudden temperature change can kill your fish.
  • Check water pH levels weekly.
  • Make sure you provide your fish with adequate food and keep a regular feeding schedule.
  • Set up plants, rocks and hiding places in your aquarium.
  • Change aquarium water regularly. Most fish are happy with a water change every two weeks, other species might need more or fewer water changes.
  • Clean the aquarium glass and accessories regularly.
  • Do not overfeed your fish.

5. Budgies

These pretty birds make lovely companions for most bird lovers. However, they're also extremely high maintenance pets to keep. Budgies are super social birds, so you need to keep in mind that it is best to keep them in pairs. While compared to other bird breeds they are a bit less difficult to keep, they still need ample time and attention.

Basic Budgie Care

  • Budgies need loads of exercise, some people even choose to let their budgies out of their cage occasionally. It is recommended to close all doors and windows before letting your bird out of its cage.
  • The minimum recommended cage size for one budgie is that of 18" x 18" x 24".
  • Budgies need fresh water and food daily, along with fresh vegetables and seeds.
  • Your bird's cage needs to be cleaned at least once a week.
  • Invest in perches, food dishes, twirly ropes, bells and other toys. Avoid overstuffing your cage with toys and accessories.
  • Interact with your bird regularly.
  • Find a good avian vet and have them check your budgie at least once a year.

6. Sponsor A Pet

While sponsoring an animal at a shelter will not provide you with an actual live-in pet, it's still very rewarding. Sponsorships can be renewed every year and are ideal for people who cannot own a pet, but would still love to help out or make an animal's life better. Some shelters also offer you the possibility of visiting the sponsored animal in question or even volunteer at the shelter itself. When sponsoring an animal at a shelter, you will be able to present it with food and veterinary care, in addition to shelter. Sponsoring schemes are generally used for animals who might never be homed and are available in Malta for cats, dogs and even horses.

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