Red Foot Tortoise


red foot tortoise care sheet

Red foot tortoises originate in Central and Southern America making them a humidity loving species

Red Foot Tortoises grow very large and males can weigh up to 9kg that’s 1 and a half stone!

Red foots– unlike some tortoises– are scavengers who occasionally eat pinkie mice (once or twice a month) they also eat mango, berries and other fruits as part of their diet, and they love mushrooms as part of a balanced diet mixed with their other foods

You may enjoy taking your tortoise out during the peak summer heat, we recommend minimising this time to 15-30 minutes so that your tortoise doesn’t get cold. Be ware of wild plants which may be poisonous to your pet


There are a few different types of tortoise enclosure available which are based around a table or a vivarium style.
Red Foot tortoises require a more humidity environment than other species so a vivarium is recommended. A table or open top can be offered when older but large sides and partial cover at least should be offered in order to give the tortoise the right conditions to live in.

There are a range of substrates available for your tortoise which are an option of absorbent lignocel and aspen bedding or there is a choice of tortoise life bio substrate which is highly absorbent and completely natural and does offer a better environment for humid species like the Red Foot. Provide fairly shallow water and food bowls to allow your tortoise to access the contents. Provide a hiding space for your tortoise and plenty of substrate for it to dig and bury at night. Heat mats may be needed in winter as an addition to your tortoise table to provide extra belly heat or a larger heat lamp or rock can be provided in a vivarium set up. Put some wood and décor in the enclosure so that your tortoise can climb on different textures as it would in the wild.

Red foot tortoises do grow to a large size and so consideration should be made about how an adult can be housed in the owners home. Often with larger red foots, a custom enclosure is needed at adult size.

Spot clean your tortoise daily and clean every 3-4 weeks fully, replacing substrate. Clean water and food bowls daily and provide fresh water. Soak your tortoise in warm water 2-3 times a week as they absorb water through the cloaca. Lots of tortoises choose to go to the toilet in the water, if you notice your tortoise is not going to the toilet then a warm soak for 10 mins can help to relieve this.

Handling your red foot


Tortoises are independent animals who although do well in captivity are not the kind of pet that enjoys a cuddle. Red Foot Tortoises like to be on the ground or a surface so that they can walk around at will and do not enjoy held in one place.

Try to collect your tortoise from beneath, never pull its legs or put your hands close to its mouth. Tortoises have a hard beak so their bite can be painful, tortoises pull their legs in to protect themselves so be careful not to put fingers under their shell where they can be trapped.  Tortoises should be kept level and not tipped or rolled over for long periods of time as this can upset the chemicals in their brains.


Genus, Species Chelonoidis carbonaria
Adult Size 30-40cm
Habitat Woodland/Rainforest
Lifespan 50 (+) years
Diet Dark leafy greens dusted with Calcium + D3 powder daily. Some fruit , mushroom, occasional pinkie mice (twice per month)
Ambient Temp (f) 75-80
Basking Temp (f) 90-92
Humidity (%) 70-80
Locality Central/South USA Difficulty 2
Breeding Age 7-10 years
Social Structure Live alone or with opposite sex, groups of females

Red foot tortoises


∗ Tortoise-life substrate or bio-life mix
∗ Water and food bowls
Hides or décor
∗ A thermometer
∗ A hygrometer
UVB lighting
∗ A reptile safe disinfectant for cleaning
∗ Cuttlefish or tortoise block for extra vitamins and to help keep the beak filed down
Calcium for dusting food


Sexing tortoises is different depending on species. Tortoises can be very hard to sex when small, but once a tortoise is large enough to start to develop more distinctive characteristics there are a couple of noticeable differences.

Male Red Foot tortoises have a longer, thicker tail than a female and generally their tail will hang to one side, a female Ref Foot has a smaller thinner tail. Female Red Foot tortoises will have a flat carapace and males will be slightly curved.

Males are larger as adults.

Red foot tortoises
red foot tortoise


Eyes– Eyes should be clear and open wide. Look out for any swollen eye lids or swelling around the eye as this can signify an eye infection which are common in tortoises. Turtle eyes is a great product to treat the eyes with and requires a couple of drops daily to clear the infection. You can also use saline and a cotton pad to gently swab the eyes daily. Separate tortoises which show signs of infection to avoid spreading.

Shell– The shell should be smooth with no chips or signs of pyramiding. Scutes which raise and point at the top are referred to as pyramiding in tortoises and are a sign of MBD (metabolic bone disease) which means that the tortoise has not received enough UVB and calcium + D3. it is important to change your UVB bulb every 6-8 months and dust food with calcium +D3 powder twice a week. The UVB and D3 work in hand to keep your tortoises shell and bones strong.

Stool– your tortoises stool should be firm and moist. Watery stools are caused by feeding your tortoise too many high water content fruits or vegetables. Encourage leafy greens like Kale, Spring Greens and Cabbage instead of things like lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

advice for life