red foot tortoise care sheet

Red Foot Tortoise Care Sheet

Red Foot Tortoise a.k.a Chelonoidis carbonaria (Suriname Red Foot TortoiseColombian Red Foot Tortoise, Brazilian Cherry Head Tortoise, etc.)

red foot tortoise care

Intro to Red Foot Tortoise

The red foot tortoise is a medium sized tortoise naturally found in tropical grasslands of South America, primarily ranging on the eastern side of the continent. And as the name suggests, they are known for their red markings around their legs, head, and tail all protected by a beautiful black shell with yellow or orange markings. Like all tortoises, they are a long lived animal, with an average life span of about 50 years, so make an effort to plan accordingly to keep these animals throughout their life.

caring for red foot tortoise

Red Foot Tortoise Care

Being a tortoise, they are herbivores, eating a variety of plants and fruits, which is easy to replicate in a captive setting via a trip to the grocery store! A good mix of fresh greens, hay and herbivore pellets can be offered every day, as variety is important in every animal’s diet to ensure proper nutrition. Humidity should be kept moderately high, as they are a tropical species. Misting the tortoise’s enclosure everyday and providing a humid substrate such as zoo med forest floor are great ways to keep humidity high, especially for baby tortoises. Proper humidity should range anywhere from 70-80% at the highest, and 50-60% at ambient. Humidity levels can be measured using a hygrometer. It is also recommended to soak baby tortoises in a container of shallow water. This can be done 2 to 3 times a week for about 15-20 minutes to ensure adequate hydration of the tortoise.

Red foot tortoises are diurnal and spend much of the day wandering and grazing as they go, so adequate heat and UVB light must be provided. A hot spot of 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for baby tortoises, with an ambient temperature of about 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, it is okay for the temperature to drop to the 70s, but no less than the mid 60s. Any heat lamps should be positioned on one side of the enclosure, with their water dish and humid area on the opposite end of the basking area to create a heat gradient across the enclosure. 5.0 UVB light should also be provided across the enclosure to allow the tortoise to synthesize nutrients and grow their bones properly. A proper day/night cycle should be given as well, a 12hr on/off schedule works best and can be automated using outlet timers.

A 20 gallon tank or small tortoise pen can be used to house one or two baby tortoises for their first year, outfitted with a shallow water dish large enough for the tortoises to easily use to drink or soak, a food dish, and shaded areas on each side of the enclosure. Small obstacles such as lower set wood pieces and rocks can be added to help the baby tortoises learn how to traverse their surroundings, as well as a thick substrate layer to allow the animals to burrow and hide. As far as adult red foot tortoise enclosures go, an outdoor pen is one of the best ways to properly house them, if the climate of your area allows it. A comfortable adult enclosure can measure eight feet long and six feet wide, and can house up to two animals, but bigger is always better. Red foot tortoises do well outdoors with temperatures ranging from the 70s, all the way up to 100 degrees with a shaded area. Adults can be kept outside on colder days, as long as a basking area reaches at least 70 degrees during the day. A smaller winter enclosure should also be available as temperatures below 45 can be lethal. It is also crucial to secure any outdoor enclosures to avoid predation, theft and escape of the animals housed. Tortoises about the size of a football can be housed safely outside as long as proper security measures and hiding areas are provided.

how to care for red foot tortoise

Red Foot Tortoises For Sale in the Pet Trade

Red Foot Tortoises are readily available captive bred, as they have been an icon of the pet world for decades. Adult animals reach an average size of about 10 to 15 inches in shell length, and rarely exceed 20 pounds, which makes them a great alternative to sulcata tortoises, another highly popular pet tortoise that easily reaches 80-100 pounds. Under no circumstance should pets be released into the wild, as the species may not be native to the local area, and may cause harm to the ecosystem.



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