Red Footed Tortoise Care Guide & Info

Red footed tortoise

Are you looking to share your time and affection with a non-furry pet? The red-footed tortoise is one of the best choice available if you ask me.

These affectionate pets recognize their keepers easily. Plus, it’s comforting to know that these creatures will accompany you for a few decades down the lane.

Offer them sufficient sunlight, fresh air, and grass to munch on. They would happily bask themselves in the sun. 

Now, if you ask, do they have a motto in life? The answer is yes – “Live slow and die very old with an alluring carapace.” 

About the Red Footed Tortoise

Red-footed tortoises are easy to take care of and are not high maintenance creatures. They have a longer lifespan than your pet dog or cat. Wow… That means you have a companion to grow old with! These popular breeds are primarily seen in central America and northern and central South America.

In the jungles, they have a wide array of habitats ranging from humid forests to dry grasslands. Their nomenclature is due to the colorful reddish-orange stripes on their legs. 

With proper care, these species are commonly known to outlive their keepers. Guess what! You can get these exotic species from pet stores, breeders, and reptile shows. Thanks to the striking colorings on their legs, head, and shell, they serve as attractive pets. 

Good news for beginners! These pets are a great option for starters as they’re slow and easy to handle. Plus, their curious personality will keep you entertained. In for a serious commitment for the next 50 years? Why wait.. gather all the information available to take care of these incredible creatures. 

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Red footed tortoise gravel


These tortoises are usually bred in considerable numbers in the humid southern parts of the US. The captive-bred babies are commonly seen in the local pet outlets. Large scale imports from the jungle are visible from the Guyana and Suriname regions.

They are farm bred in bulk in South America, and once they attain 4” size, they are then shipped to the US. Farm bred species have pyramid shells, whereas the wild ones have smooth shells. The U.S. has a 4-inch law for tortoises. Hence anything smaller than 4” must be US-born and captive-bred. 

Red Footed Tortoise’s Size

The young ones are about 1½ – 2” in shell length when out from the egg. Their growth differs based on various factors, which include the quality and amount of food intake. The temperatures they live in also affect their growth rate.

The adult size creatures have a length ranging between 11 – 14 inches. Females, in general, grow up to 11 – 12 inches in diameter. However, ones that are as small as 9 inches are also known to lay eggs. Similar to other tortoises, this species also overgrow during the initial 5 – 10 years. This pace then decreases as they grow old.

Can you identify the gender-based on appearance? Yes.

The female shells are rectangular in shape and length. On the other hand, male tanks are hourglass-shaped, making you think that they have a waist.

Red footed tortoise out

Red Footed Tortoise Lifespan

Tortoises maintained in an ideal and natural setting has a longer life span than those bred in artificial conditions. Various factors play a vital role in deciding their lifespan. Many sources claim that these species live for around 50 years. 

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Red Footed Tortoise Care Guide

1. Housing

The shelter must consist of strong walls that are 16” in height above ground level and a few inches below the ground. As the red-footed species do not usually dig or burrow, you don’t have to worry about them digging deep underneath. Avoid see-through walls and fences. Phew..! It can be a tough job to keep them from escaping if they can view the other end.  

The young ones may find the outdoor conditions quite intolerable. Don’t worry! You can raise them indoors as well. The indoor shelters include simple plastic boxes that you can make on your own.

During winters, keep them indoors with sufficient heating. Maintaining proper humidity in these enclosures is also essential to avoid dehydration. Various substrates like peat moss, coconut coir, or cypress mulch are suitable as bedding. 

2. Temperature and Lighting

These species thrive in varying habitat from jungles to grasslands. Hence the outdoors ones are tolerant to any temperature. As for the indoor ones, you have to maintain an average temperature of 68 – 80°. Plus, provide them with a basking space to hide away when they need some time alone.

3. Red Footed Tortoise Food

Next comes the question what do they feed on? The adult animals consume various flowers, leaves, vegetables, and fruits. You can also find most tortoises have included cactus pads in their diet. For them, variety is essential!

Some breeders give them insects as supplements. Have you ever wondered if your pet tortoise will feed on baby mice? Well, some do consume these rodents, which offer as a good protein source. 

4. Water

For those kept in outdoor enclosures, provide water basins or tiny ponds to drink from. See to it that you clean them daily to avoid them from dirtying or defecating in the water dishes.

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These animals use the tiny ponds to cool themselves during the hot summers. When placed indoors, shallow water bowls will do the job. However, make sure that they are cleaned regularly. It is because, in shallow water, they drink and flush their system simultaneously. 

The young ones tend to dry more quickly than mature animals. Remember to soak them once or twice a week for about 30 minutes to keep them hydrated. This forced hydration will keep their moisture intact. 

5. Red Footed Tortoise’s Health

For a healthy pet, purchase an active tortoise from a reputable outlet that has bright and clean eyes. These creatures are prone to various health problems. The most common cases include parasite infestations and respiratory infections.

Wet or cold habitats may cause raspy breathing or bubbly nose or weird noises while breathing. During the initial stages, you can rectify this by lowering the humidity or raising temperatures. However, if the conditions prevail, you need to consult a vet. 

5. Handling the Red Footed Tortoise

Avoid handling these species regularly. It is because they can get stressed out very quickly, and kids tend to throw them away if spooked. The stress may, in-turn, adversely affect their health and activity levels. The younger ones are more resistant to being manhandled. Make sure to pay extra attention while handling these red-footed tortoises. Do not restrict or pin them down! Leave them alone on their way, especially the young ones. The mature species are tolerant of humans. 

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get one of these tolerant pets home. You won’t know how the time passes by as you watch these colored beauties move around.