How to Tell A Turtle’s Age

There is just one true method to call a turtles age and also that is to know it’s hatch date. The methods listed below are all simply tools to assist you in estimating your turltes period if girlfriend dont recognize their hatch date.

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One of the things turtles are popular for is their long lifespans. Countless tortoises have actually lifespans of end 150 years.

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

Sea turtles likewise have long lifespans, the green turtle is believed to have a lifespan of 80 years. The course, it’s lot more daunting to monitor the age of sea turtles as they live in oceans.

Even through captive land tortoises and freshwater turtles, that is quiet a bit of a an obstacle as this long-lived animals adjust hands several times within your lifetime.

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

1. Inspect the rigidity of the shell

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

It’s for sure to assume the a tiny tortoise through a soft covering is under fifty percent a year old. The softer the shell, the younger the chelonian frequently is. The turtle’s covering takes time to harden – normally in between 6 to 8 months.

Do not push the shell, just touch that gently. The shell is part of the bone framework of the chelonian, girlfriend don’t want to damage the covering or harm the turtle together it’s interior organs room housed inside the shell.

Of course, a soft shell can be due to nutritional metabolic bone disease also recognized as nutritional second hyperparathyroidism (NSHP).

Also, softshell turtles have soft shells. The course, this form of shell feels different to touch. A softshell turtle’s soft shell feels leathery together it is difficult skin the spreads over the turtle’s earlier and develops the carapace. A baby turtle’s shell on the other hand feels spongy come touch.

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

5 radiated tortoises every one of different size and ages

Turtles normally reach their mean maximum length at maturity. Castle may proceed to rise in length after that however it’ll be at a an extremely slow rate.

If you understand the species of your turtle or tortoise, climate you have the right to measure the right carapace length, this can tell you even if it is or not the turtle is sexually mature. You can then usage this to estimate the turtle’s age.

Different species normally reach maturity at different ages. Because that instance, red-eared sliders normally reach sex-related maturity as soon as they space 5 come 6 year old and have attained a carapace size of about 10 cm for males and 15 cm for females.

Therefore to usage this test you will additionally need to recognize the gender of her turtle as well.

This isn’t 100% precise as turtles that eat more grow quicker than turtles that eat less. However measuring the directly carapace size can offer you a unstable estimate ~ above whether your turtle has actually or hasn’t got to sexual maturity.

This is usually around 5-6 years because that most little to tool size freshwater turtles. Also, woman turtles generally grow faster/larger than male turtles, so take that into consideration.

3. Counting the rings of a scute

Scutes the a red eared slider

The dimension of the tortoise can provide you a turbulent estimate the the chelonian’s age. The carapace length only reveals even if it is or no the tortoise is one adult (sexually mature).

If you desire to know an ext about the turtle’s age, you deserve to count the ring on the turtle’s scute. The scutes room the bowl that made up the turtle’s carapace (shell). These give an extremely rough estimate as the denotes durations of growth.

A ring indicates a expansion spurt also if that development signifies just a very tiny time. This is to say that shows durations of starvation when the turtle had small to eat and periods of bountifulness when the turtle had actually a lot come eat.

Level of growth is directly identified by just how much the chelonian needs to eat.

The rings generally alternate between large rings the one color and tinier ring of an additional color. The broader rings present periods of bountiful when there is a lot come eat while narrower rings present periods that scarcity.

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

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

4. Examine the sex-related maturity of the turtle

Leopard turtle laying egg in hole

As explained earlier, turtles generally reach sex-related maturity at a particular age. When this is not 100% precise as many turtle breeders like to use dimension (in details length) together a determinant of sexual maturity.

A sexually matured woman turtle will certainly be gravid and also lay eggs even without mating. If her female turtle lays eggs climate you have the right to safely assume the she is matured. Depending on the species, you can estimate her minimum age.

5. Skeletochronology testing

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

The humerus, scapula, ilium, and also femur bones space the ones typically studied here. Skeletochronology describes counting LAGs (lines the arrested yearly growth) the skeletal tissues to determine the age and also growth price of a vertebrate, in this case, turtles.

Skeletochronology is a much an ext accurate method to recognize the age of a turtle 보다 counting rings. Yet the fence to this is that it have the right to only be performed top top dead turtles.

This testing is valuable to marine zoologists and also other zoologists who want to research sea turtles and other tortoise species.

6. Intuitive inspection

Old seychelles tortoise laying down with legs sprawled out

Visual cues have the right to tell friend a lot about the turtle’s age. Enlarge turtles will certainly move more slowly or eat less. Castle may additionally be more herbivorous. Also, you can notice wear-and-tear ~ above the turtle.

An older turtle’s shell have the right to be fairly worn out with dents and scratches. Tortoise with really smooth shells are really old – usually virtually 100 year old or older.

The larger a tortoise gets, the smoother its covering gets together it is exposed to erosion native sand and rainfall. The rings, ridges, and also bumps smooth out. This is especially true of tortoises.

7. Store track of the turtle’s flower date

Painted turtle hatchling

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

Although all the other means might permit you to estimate the period of the turtle, the really age could never it is in known. Maintaining track of a turtle’s hatch day isn’t as easy as you may think.

Many turtles live long and readjust hands number of times. The true age of the turtle can easily become lost end time. That is crucial to record your turtle’s age and keep all pet vet documents handy simply in situation it requirements to adjust hands.


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

Of course, the only method to know a turtle’s period with 100% certainty is to know the turtle’s flower date. The younger the turtle, the less complicated it is come tell the age.

Some techniques currently mentioned include counting the rings of the spine (depending top top the species), check the size of the tortoise (if you know the species), and also checking the sexual maturity of the turtle.

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If friend have any kind of other tips or tricks come helping recognize a turtle age, please leaving a comment below.