How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is

How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is

In captivity, the life expectancy of reptiles is significantly reduced, so future owners want to know the exact age of the acquired pet.

We will figure out how to determine the age of a land tortoise at home and whether it is possible to calculate the age of a reptile in human years.

Basic methods for determining age

In order to determine the age of the Central Asian tortoise, use the following methods:

  • determination by the size of the carapace, increasing by 2 cm every year;
  • counting ring-shaped grooves on the carapace, increasing with each year of life by 2-3 pieces;
  • inspection of the appearance of the reptile, changing with growing up.

The most reliable method is 2, but it also depends on the conditions of the turtle.

Shell length

The age of the tortoise can be found by the length of the carapace by measuring the distance between the 2 extreme points of the carapace.

The carapace of the newborn bug is only 3-3.5 cm. After a year, the size increases by 2 cm and continues to grow at the same pace to the mark of 18 cm. When this indicator is reached, growth stops, preventing the determination of age.

How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is

Depending on the length of the shell, the age of the land Central Asian tortoise is as follows:

IMPORTANT! If the length of the shell reaches 18 cm, then a more accurate age index can be understood only with the help of shell rings.

Armor rings

In order to find out how old the land tortoise is, count the annual rings on the shell shields.

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Intensive growth and molting of turtles in the first 2 years of life affect the carapace pattern, forming ring-shaped grooves on the surface. In a young reptile younger than 1 year, 2-3 rings appear on each flake, and by the age of 2 they are already 6. After that, the intensity decreases, and the annual addition of rings is 1-2 pieces.

How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is

To determine the number of years, use the following instruction:

  1. Count the annual rings using a few scales.
  2. Calculate the arithmetic mean of the calculated values.
  3. Subtract from the obtained number 6 ring-shaped grooves obtained in the first 2 years of life.
  4. Divide the resulting number by 1.5 – the average number of rings that appear after 2 years.

EXAMPLE: If the arithmetic average is 21, then the pet is 10 years old. The formula for the calculation will look as follows: (21-6) / 1,5 = 10

The disadvantage of this method is the difficulty in counting annular grooves in elderly reptiles that lose the clarity of the lines on the carapace.


Ring-shaped grooves and the length of the shell are determined by the conditions in which the reptile is contained. The final indicators are affected by the quality of water feeding, the parameters of the terrarium and many other factors.

An approximate number of years can be determined by the appearance of the animal:

  • the absence of rings on the plastron. Characteristic for newborn reptiles younger than 1 year old;
    How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is
  • elongated and dark carapace, large claws and tail. Appears during puberty, occurring in domestic turtles at 5 years old;
    How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is
  • subtle lines of growth (white stripes on the carapace). The lines are erased by 8 years. The sharper the lines, the younger the turtle;
  • maximally compressed annular grooves. The close arrangement of the rings to each other suggests that the animal is about 15 years old;
  • smooth horny plates with barely noticeable rings, worn out claws, the presence of chips and roughness on the carapace and plastron. This appearance suggests that the reptile has crossed the mark at 15 years old.
    How To Find Out How Old A Tortoise Is

Human turtles age

In freedom, Central Asian turtles live for about 50 years, and only 15 at home. Rare individuals survive up to 30 years with a very careful attitude and competent care from the owner.

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In order to calculate the age of a reptile by human standards, we will build on the following indicators:

  1. Average life expectancy. In a domestic turtle, it is 15 years old, in humans – about 70 years.
  2. Physiological maturity. At home, reptiles become sexually mature by the age of 5 years. In humans, maturity is reached at 15 years.

According to the indicators taken into account, the approximate ratio will look as follows:

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