Congratulations on your new tortoise. Red-Footed Tortoise’s are wonderfully curious pets that are relatively easy to care for. We here at Four Seasons Animal Hospital want to help with that care so let’s start with the basics…
“Red-foots” are a medium-sized, hardy tortoise with energy and personality. The red-footed tortoise is native to a wide variety of habitats ranging from humid tropical forests to the dry savannah or semi-arid land of Central and South America. Generally, the species prefers a humid environment. Red-footed tortoises make excellent pets. Hatchlings in the pet trade are usually captive-bred in the US, whereas adults may be wild-caught imports.
Color & Size
Adults have a high domed carapace, yellow-orange to red facial markings, and yellow-red to orange-red scales on the forelimbs. Each keratin shield or “scute” on the upper shell or carapace has a yellow center. Adult size varies and may range from 12-20 in (30-50 cm).
25-35 years (>50+ years is possible)
Red-footed tortoises are generally herbivores but will eat carrion and slow-moving invertebrates such as slugs and snails:
● The bulk of the diet should consist of dark leafy greens and broad-leaf graze.
● Also offer a variety of chopped vegetables, hay, some berries, and other fruits. Red- foots relish tropical fruits such as banana, mango, and papaya.
● Offer a small amount of animal protein (i.e. low-fat dry dog food or earthworms) every 1-2 weeks. Dust the non-breeding adult’s diet of salad greens with a calcium carbonate or calcium gluconate supplement once weekly. Calcium supplements should be devoid or low in phosphorus with a minimum Ca:P ratio of 2:1. Also offer high-calcium graze and forages such as clover and dandelions. Both are enjoyed by red-foots and require no dusting. A general vitamin/mineral supplement can also be offered once weekly.
Cage Size & Design
These tortoises are extremely active. Provide a pair of adults with at least 4 x 8 ft (1 x 2 m) of floor space. Outdoor housing is preferable when temperature allows. Outdoor pens should allow space for exercise, secure walls that are at least 1.5 times taller than the tortoise is long, and security from both predators and escape.
Lighting should be low and diffuse or plenty of shade should be offered. Lights that emit UVB wavelengths are recommended to help the tortoise metabolize calcium correctly.
Provide a temperature gradient of 78-85°F (26-29°C) and a basking spot that reaches 90°F (32°C). Drop the temperature to the high 60s to low 70s F at night (20-22°C).
Humidity & Water
Provide lots of water for drinking and soaking as well as a “hut” or warren where relative humidity is elevated.
Red-footed tortoises are social, although breeding males can become aggressive.