How come Tell A Turtle’s Age

There is just one true means to call a tortoise age and that is to understand it’s flower date. The methods listed below are all just tools to assist you in estimating your turltes period if friend dont know their flower date.

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One that the things turtles are well-known for is their long lifespans. Many tortoises have actually lifespans of end 150 years.

An example is the giant Galapagos tortoises, v Chelonoidis nigra nigra having an typical lifespan the 177 years.

Sea turtles also have long lifespans, the environment-friendly turtle is thought to have a lifespan of 80 years. The course, it’s lot more challenging to track the age of sea turtles as they live in oceans.

Even v captive soil tortoises and freshwater turtles, it is still a little bit of a difficulty as these long-lived animals adjust hands numerous times within their lifetime.

How can you tell just how old a turtle is? Sometimes, the only method is to calculation the turtle’s period using number of techniques, we will certainly go through just how to phone call a turtle’s age in this article.

1. Examine the rigidity the the shell

If the tortoise in concern isn’t a softshell turtle, then checking the rigidity the the shell can allow you to calculation if it’s under 6 months old or over.

It’s safe to assume the a little tortoise with a soft shell is under fifty percent a year old. The softer the shell, the younger the chelonian typically is. The turtle’s covering takes time to harden – normally in between 6 come 8 months.

Do not press the shell, just touch the gently. The shell is component of the bone framework of the chelonian, friend don’t want to damages the covering or harm the turtle together it’s inner organs are housed inside the shell.

Of course, a soft shell can be due to nutritional metabolic bone condition also well-known as nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism (NSHP).

Also, softshell turtles have soft shells. Of course, this type of covering feels different to touch. A softshell turtle’s soft shell feels leathery as it is challenging skin the spreads end the turtle’s earlier and develops the carapace. A baby turtle’s shell meanwhile feels spongy come touch.

2. Measure the size of the shell and also the weight

5 radiated tortoises every one of different size and also ages

Turtles typically reach their average maximum length at maturity. Castle may continue to rise in size after that but it’ll be at a really slow rate.

If you understand the species of your turtle or tortoise, climate you can measure the directly carapace length, this have the right to tell you even if it is or no the tortoise is sexually mature. You deserve to then usage this to estimate the turtle’s age.

Different species normally with maturity at different ages. For instance, red-eared sliders typically reach sexual maturity once they room 5 to 6 years old and have attained a carapace length of about 10 cm for males and 15 centimeter for females.

Therefore to usage this test you will also need to recognize the sex of her turtle together well.

This isn’t 100% accurate as turtles the eat much more grow much faster than turtles the eat less. Yet measuring the straight carapace size can provide you a rough estimate ~ above whether your turtle has actually or hasn’t reached sexual maturity.

This is usually about 5-6 years because that most small to medium size freshwater turtles. Also, mrs turtles generally flourish faster/larger 보다 male turtles, so take it that right into consideration.

3. Counting the rings of a scute

Scutes the a red eared slider

The dimension of the tortoise can offer you a turbulent estimate the the chelonian’s age. The carapace size only reveals whether or no the tortoise is one adult (sexually mature).

If you want to know more about the turtle’s age, you can count the ring on the turtle’s scute. The scutes space the key that made up the turtle’s carapace (shell). This give an extremely rough estimate as the denotes durations of growth.

A ring indicates a growth spurt also if that development signifies simply a very tiny time. This is to say it shows durations of famine when the turtle had tiny to eat and also periods that bountifulness once the turtle had a lot come eat.

Level of expansion is directly figured out by exactly how much the chelonian has to eat.

The ring generally alternating between vast rings that one color and also tinier rings of an additional color. The more comprehensive rings display periods that bountiful once there is a lot to eat while narrow rings display periods of scarcity.

Of course v wild turtles, the narrow rings normally correspond with winter (cold months), and also the wide rings correspond with the warm months such together spring and also summer.

To estimate the period of the turtle, division the variety of rings by two. For instance, if a turtle has 16 ring on the scutes, you deserve to estimate that this tortoise is 8 years old.

4. Check the sexual maturity that the turtle

Leopard turtle laying egg in hole

As described earlier, turtles usually reach sexual maturity in ~ a certain age. While this is not 100% specific as many turtle breeders favor to use size (in certain length) together a determinant of sexual maturity.

A sexually matured female turtle will be gravid and also lay eggs even without mating. If your female turtle lays eggs then you can safely assume the she is matured. Depending upon the species, you can estimate she minimum age.

5. Skeletochronology testing

This is usually done top top wild tortoise at the time of death. This is used specifically to identify the age and also growth prices of sea tortoise such together loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean Sea.

The humerus, scapula, ilium, and also femur bones are the ones generally studied here. Skeletochronology describes counting LAGs (lines that arrested annual growth) that skeletal organization to recognize the age and growth price of a vertebrate, in this case, turtles.

Skeletochronology is a much more accurate means to determine the age of a turtle than counting rings. But the downside to this is the it can only it is in performed ~ above dead turtles.

This testing is useful to naval zoologists and other zoologists who want to examine sea turtles and other turtle species.

6. Visual inspection

Old seychelles tortoise laying down with legs sprawled out

Visual cues deserve to tell you a lot about the turtle’s age. Older turtles will certainly move much more slowly or eat less. Lock may additionally be an ext herbivorous. Also, friend can an alert wear-and-tear on the turtle.

An larger turtle’s shell deserve to be quite worn out v dents and scratches. Turtles with really smooth shells are really old – usually practically 100 years old or older.

The older a tortoise gets, the smoother its shell gets together it is exposed come erosion indigenous sand and rainfall. The rings, ridges, and also bumps smooth out. This is specifically true of tortoises.

7. Save track that the turtle’s hatch date

Painted turtle hatchling

This is the only means to tell a turtle’s period with every certainty. Understanding the month within which the turtle hatches can enable you to accurately tell the period of the turtle.

Although all the other ways might allow you to calculation the age of the turtle, the actual age could never it is in known. Keeping track of a turtle’s hatch day isn’t as simple as you may think.

Many turtles live lengthy and change hands several times. The true age of the turtle can easily end up being lost end time. It is essential to file your turtle’s age and keep every pet vet records handy just in instance it demands to adjust hands.


There are countless reasons why you may need or desire to understand your turtle’s age. Age helps you determine their diet, breeding capabilities, and even the anticipated adult dimension of the turtle.

Of course, the only means to know a turtle’s period with 100% certainty is to recognize the turtle’s flower date. The younger the turtle, the much easier it is to tell the age.

Some techniques currently mentioned include counting the ring of the scutes (depending on the species), check the dimension of the turtle (if you recognize the species), and also checking the sexual maturity that the turtle.

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If friend have any other advice or tricks to helping identify a tortoise age, please leave a comment below.