The turtle is a long-lived animal. At home with good care, the reptile can live up to 50 years. Owners keep track of the years of the pet from the date announced by the breeder, or from the date of purchase. You can find out how old the turtle is, the history and life path of which are unknown, by external signs.
Dimensions and age
The simplest criterion is the size of the dorsal part of the animal’s armor. Measurements are taken in the center with a line along the shell. It should be straight, without taking into account the bend of the carapace. The parameters of an individual are compared with the average values for the species.
Determining the age of a land tortoise, like a freshwater tortoise grown at home, will not work exactly by size. Getting plenty of food, living at a favorable temperature all year round, the reptile grows faster than wild relatives. A pet can be noticeably ahead of statistical data in size.
Common types of domestic turtles – red-eared and Central Asian, do not differ in growth patterns. Newborns hatch with a carapace 2,5-3 cm long. By the year they grow up to 5–6 cm. By the second year of life, the difference between females and males becomes noticeable. In these species, the girls are larger. Two-year-old males grow up to 8 cm, females are one centimeter larger. By the third year, boys gain another 2 centimeters, girls about 5. From the fourth year, regardless of gender, in 4 seasons, turtles grow by 2 cm.
Along the growth rings
The shell of a free reptile grows cyclically. Therefore, by the appearance of the upper part, one can understand how and how long the reptile lived. The intensity of the process is influenced by the climatic indicators of the area and the schedule of its annual activity. Domestic reptiles live in stable conditions and do not hibernate on schedule. Their armor is less subject to wear and tear, as it is not attacked by predators and does not come into contact with rough terrain. To determine how old a turtle is by its shell, you need to make adjustments for the living conditions of a particular individual.
The dorsal part of the armor is called the carapace. It consists of dense shields, which are separated by recesses. The seams between the plates in animals up to 4 years old are light, with age they begin to darken. The scutes on the shell grow from the middle, which is why centric grooves form on each. They are called growth rings. To find out the age of the red-eared or Central Asian tortoise by the shell, you need to count the number of furrows on the shield.
Herpetologists recommend taking the average between the number of rings on several shields, since sometimes the parameter does not match.
In individuals under two years of age, a new furrow appears about once every three months. During this time, the turtle can form 8-12 rings. In a matured reptile, only one ring appears in 12 months. Turtles that did not hibernate have fuzzy growth rings with blurred boundaries.
The quality of the claws and the condition of the carapace will not help in determining the exact age, but they can distinguish an aged individual from a mature one. In adult reptiles, the claws are more massive, larger. Young turtles are more active and active, older individuals lead a measured lifestyle.
Signs of old age:
- worn, monolithic shell;
- smooth scutes without growth rings;
- passive behavior;
- noticeable wear on the nails.
In burrowing species, the carapace deteriorates faster. This is due to friction with the soil while the animal builds and uses the shelter.
In young red-eared turtles, the color is bright, saturated. Over time, bright stains fade and merge. The red spots on the sides of the head, which gave the species its name, may also indicate the growth phase. In youth, they are bright scarlet, later the color darkens and acquires brown shades.
Age of turtles by human standards
You should not try to derive a formula that will allow a year of a reptile’s life to be equated with some period of a human. For objectivity, it is better to rely on the phases of animal development. For a reptile, this is more difficult than for mammals. There are significant differences in the stages of development of the human body and the turtle.
Childhood is the period from hatching to the onset of puberty. The first visual differences between males and females become noticeable from the age of two. On average, by the age of 5, reptiles are able to produce offspring. In captivity, red-eared and Central Asian tortoises live up to 25-30 years, some individuals, with good care, meet the 50th anniversary.
A turtle’s second birthday can be compared to a child’s decade in human terms. By the age of five, the reproductive system is fully formed in the reptile.
This phase corresponds to the 16th anniversary of a person. 20 for a pet is the same as for its owner 50. An animal after 30 can be considered elderly, and it is worth providing increased attention.
The comparison is relevant for red-eared and steppe turtles. For breeds with a different development cycle, it should be carried out adjusted for data on a particular species. Similarly, you can compare the age of pets from different families and orders.
How to determine the age of a turtle
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