What animal ages really mean

Many of us grew up being taught that one dog year equals seven human years. So, if your dog is five years old, he is the equivalent of a 35-year-old human. This theory is still extremely popular, but in truth, it’s far from accurate. A dog’s human age is influenced by factors such as size, and there are even differences between different species of animals! We took a look at the real ages of animals.

How old is my pet?

Are you curious about how old your pet may be in human years? Other than satisfying a mild curiosity, an idea of an animal’s age can help you to understand behaviours and what you can expect of him. You can also make adjustments to some things, such as food and healthcare, as natural changes occur throughout the pet’s different life phases.

There is a number of pet age calculating sites available on the internet, which shows that different animals age at different rates, and some animals’ rate of aging changes as they grow older too. A rabbit of six months is the human equivalent of 16 years, yet at one year he will only be the equivalent of 20 human years. At three years, this rabbit will be 36 human years. Let’s take a wildlife example: in the first year, a ferret will age 22 human years, but as he gets older, he will age slower – at three years of age, he will be 42 years old, not the human equivalent of 66 years (3 x 22).

Calculating an animal’s age is not an exact science – there is still a lot of speculation on this subject for different pets, and so it is a rough estimate.

In the case of dogs, a large dog ages at an accelerated pace according to an evolutionary biologist in Germany, Cornelia Kraus. At one year, a medium-sized dog is about 15 human years. At year two, add nine years, and after that, for each actual year the age increases by five years for the dog. Small, medium and large dogs age differently. The smaller the dog, the slower he will age compared to a very large dog. Cats and small dogs are considered mature at seven years of age. The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.

For a cat, at the end of the first two years, she is about 25 years old in human years, and after this add four years on each year – so a cat of seven years is about 45 years old. Not a reliable method, but it gives you a good idea. The oldest known cat lived for 34 years, which equals 153 years old!

Life expectancy

Have you ever wanted to know what a specific pet’s life expectancy is? This information is very helpful to someone who is deciding on purchasing a particular pet. An owner will know how many years of responsibility they will be taking on for the good care of this animal. Lifespan is always affected by care, diet, trauma experienced, living conditions (are the conditions closest to the natural habitat?), exposure to stress, and the pet’s ability to retreat and rest well. Disease and genetics also play a large role. Inbreeding can shorten lifespan too.

Having said all that, let’s have a look at some numbers. As mentioned before, this is not an exact science, but it will give you a good idea of how old your pets really are.

 

Animal Medium dog

Age 1

Human year equivalent 15

Life expectancy in human years 9-15

Animal Dog (small, medium, large)

Age 8

Human year equivalent 48 (small), 51 (medium), 55 (large)

 

 

Animal Cat

Age 2

Human year equivalent 25

Life expectancy in human years 16-21

 

 

Animal Rat

Age 1

Human year equivalent 27

Life expectancy in human years 2

 

 

Animal Guinea pig

Age 1

Human year equivalent 10

Life expectancy in human years 4-8

 

 

Animal Pigeon

Age 1

Human year equivalent 7

Life expectancy in human years On average 3-5 years

 

 

Animal Duck

Age 1

Human year equivalent 4

Life expectancy in human years 5-10 depending on species

 

 

Animal Chicken

Age 1

Human year equivalent 5

Life expectancy in human years 5-10 depending on species

 

 

Animal Parakeet/budgie

Age 1

Human year equivalent 5

Life expectancy in human years 5-15

 

 

Animal Hamster

Age 6 months

Human year equivalent 34

Age 1

Human year equivalent 58

Life expectancy in human years 3-4

 

 

Animal Mouse

Age 6 months

Human year equivalent 34

Age 1

Human year equivalent 58

Age 3

Human year equivalent 100

Life expectancy in human years 2-3

 

 

Animal Horse

Age 1

Human year equivalent 3

Age 5

Human year equivalent 15

Life expectancy in human years 40

 

 

Animal Rabbit

Age 6 months

Human year equivalent 16

Age 1

Human year equivalent 20

Life expectancy in human years 8-12 or 14-16, depending on species

 

 

Animal Finch, canary, sparrow

Age 1

Human year equivalent 18

Age 3

Human year equivalent 35

Life expectancy in human years 15

 

 

Animal Snake (boa/python)

Age 1

Human year equivalent 18

Age 3

Human year equivalent 30

Age 5

Human year equivalent 42

Life expectancy in human years 15-20

 

How do wild animals compare?

A few wild animals are also shown below. There is a difference in the aging process when an animal is living in captivity or in the wild. Natural predators and untreated diseases occur in the wild and the availability of food is not always consistent. Animals in captivity in a responsible institution are fed regularly, given health checks, and although there is a certain level of stress related to being in captivity, these animals live longer lives.

 

Animal Ferret

Age 6 months

Human year equivalent 18

Age 1

Human year equivalent 22

Life expectancy in human years 8-12

 

 

Animal Hippo

Age 1

Human year equivalent 1.78

Life expectancy in human years 36

 

 

Animal Monkey

Age 1

Human year equivalent 3.2

Life expectancy in human years 10-50 depending on species

 

 

Animal Lion

Age 1

Human year equivalent 2.29

Life expectancy in human years 20-25 in captivity; 10-16 in the wild

 

 

Animal Tortoise

Age 1

Human year equivalent 12

Age 5

Human year equivalent 52

Life expectancy in human years 80

 

 

Animal Gecko

Age 1

Human year equivalent 16

Age 5

Human year equivalent 40

Life expectancy in human years 10-20