Red footed tortoise care is a must if you are thinking of owning this charismatic and friendly pet. They are one of South America’s most popular pet tortoise species. Red footed tortoises make excellent pets as they are easy to handle. Plus, they are the hardiest of all the tortoise species. Their unique personalities will instantly make you fall in love with them!
These tortoises are inhabitants of humid and forested areas and sometimes savannas. Red footed tortoises can live as long as 50-90 years, especially in captivity. So, if you are looking for a red-footed tortoise for sale, expect a sound investment in what could be a fifty-year commitment!
Reading this article, you can learn more about red footed tortoise care regarding feeding, housing, and handling.
General Appearance of a Red Footed Tortoise
As the name says, the red footed tortoise is a species with specific-patterned red legs. However, such markings are also present on the other parts of the body, including the neck, head, and tail.
Multiple red and orange colored patterns over their bodies characterize this species. They often contain small yellow or tan-colored areas around each shell bump.
However, the skin around the shell is mostly black or grey. Whereas the head often has a bright red mark. These unique patterns make them popular pets.
Growth of a Red Footed Tortoise
A red footed tortoise has a long lifespan but a gradual and steady growth process. These tortoises could take several years before they could reach their adult size. However, the general overview of their growth is given below.
1. Size of a Red Footed Tortoise
Generally, an adult red footed tortoise can grow 10 to 16 inches long depending on the sex. Similarly, the average weight ranges from 20 to 30 pounds. However, the growth rate mainly depends on the food quality and the temperature they live in.
A baby red footed tortoise is born less than two inches in length. They have an annual growth rate of about one to two inches. By the time they are 10 years old, they reach their adult size of about 10-14 inches.
This size variation also differs from male to female. Males are generally smaller than the females. They also have a more rigid, concave shell with a longer tail than a female. The concavity on the bottom of the male tortoise’s shell is to assist in mounting while breeding.
2. The Lifespan of a Red Footed Tortoise
Red footed tortoises have a lifespan of 30-50 years in natural habitats. However, in captivity, they can live as long as 90 years, sometimes even outliving their owners!
The key to a longer lifespan is good red footed tortoise care with proper diet, lighting, and temperature. Recreating the natural habitat living conditions of a red footed tortoise could be the key to a higher lifespan and healthy growth of your pet.
Habitat of Red Footed Tortoise
Red foot tortoises are natural inhabitants of South America’s rain-forests. However, they are also found in the Savanna lands of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia.
They are terrestrial creatures that also love wallowing in shallow waters and burrows. Thus, they are found in places like open grasslands, tropical forests, near bodies of water like rivers, and marshes.
Artificial Habitat Setup
For optimal growth of your pet tortoise, create a habitat that mimics their natural environment. Provide your tortoises with a spacious enclosure with proper temperature and humidity control. Also, add a mix of substrates for digging and walking on for your tortoise.
It is ideal to use a mixture of the following for the soil:
- Cypress bark
- Orchid bark
- Coconut fiber
- Sphagnum moss
These additive-free topsoil mixtures are loose, diggable, and excellent moisture holders. They can provide optimal humidity levels to your pet.
Red Footed Tortoise Care Guide
Red footed tortoises are low-maintenance pets. Yet, they still need proper lighting and temperature management for healthy growth. Use this red footed tortoise care guide for better understanding your pet’s needs.
1. Lightening Requirements
Sunlight is as important for red footed tortoises as it is for humans. They need it to synthesize an active form of Vitamin D3. This vitamin D3 is essential for calcium absorption from the diet you provide.
However, in an indoor enclosure, sunlight is difficult to provide. So, a full-spectrum UVB light should be added to their chamber. A 5-10 percent fluorescent bulb with a dome light fixture can spread the light evenly.
XYZReptiles provides UVB light bulbs and heat lamp bulbs that are ideal for your red footed tortoise’s needs. Keep these bulbs on for 10-12 hours every day. It is recommended to replace your bulbs every 8-10 months. This is recommended because the quality of all UVB lights decrease after prolonged use.
Red footed tortoises are cold-blooded animals. Thus, they need proper thermal gradients to regulate their temperatures. Their normal body temperature lies between 78ºF and 84ºF.
During day time, they need proper basking bulbs at 95-100ºF to maintain normal body temperature. However, keep the temperature at 70ºF at night. Avoid high temperatures during nighttime as it may be harmful to your tortoise. Instead, you can use an under-tank heater for nighttime temperature adjustments.
Ensure the night temperature does not fall below 70 degrees. Otherwise, your tortoise can suffer from hypothermia or a respiratory infection.
For the best monitoring, keep one corner of the tank at 85º and the other at 75º. This trick can be beneficial for your red-footed tortoise. It will all it to regulate it’s temperature whenever it wants!
Red Footed Tortoise Care Sheet For Proper Diet
A proper diet with additives and supplements is crucial to a red footed tortoise’s well-being. Therefore, paying attention to what your pet tortoise is eating is important.
Follow this care sheet to maintain an optimal diet for your pet:
Unlike other species, red footed tortoises are omnivores. They eat an 80 percent diet of leafy green vegetables and fruits. Apart from that, they need 10-15 percent animal proteins.
The favorite leafy greens of a red-footed tortoise include
- Dandelion grass
- Sow thistles
- Milk thistles
You can also add plant flowers to their diet. Some good options are hibiscus, nasturtium, and honeysuckles. However, avoid iceberg lettuce, spinach, and broccoli as they might harm the tortoise.
Furthermore, add these vegetables and fruits to the red-footed tortoise care regimen as snacks and treats as they enjoy them.
- Sweet potato
- Hard melons
For animal protein, the average requirement is one ounce every two weeks. You can give it as lean meat or low-fat cat food.
The tortoise will require supplements if fed a poor or store-bought artificial diet. Therefore, add a calcium-rich powder to their food. It will help to protect them from metabolic bone disease.
However, phosphorus content should be kept low in the diet. A high calcium-to-phosphorus ratio can put the health of the tortoise under threat.
Hydration Chart For a Red Footed Tortoise Care
Red footed tortoises are ectothermic animals. They need proper thermal regulation to maintain normal body temperature. Therefore, it is important to provide them with proper hydration.
In indoor enclosures, provide your pet with a shallow dishwater bath. It should be comfortable enough for the tortoise to soak in. Also, add a dig-in moist organic dirt box at least 6 inches deep for a humid burrow. It will help to keep their body temperatures in check.
For adult red feet, you can use outdoor ponds for hydration. Keep them in a secure, predator-proof enclosure. Make sure that the area is shaded with an adequate amount of water. Soak your pet in water for 20-30 minutes regularly. Doing so will ensure healthy growth.
Common Red Foot Tortoise Diseases
Red footed tortoises are generally hardy reptiles when provided with proper care. However, they can still experience health issues. Some of them are:
1. Shell Rot
Improper care of your pet can lead to a fungal or bacterial infection. This results in a flaky shell texture with patches of discoloration. You can treat this by improving hygiene and applying topical antibacterials and antifungals. An attentive red footed tortoise care can help you reduce such diseases easily.
2. Respiratory Infections
Red footed tortoises are highly susceptible to respiratory infections. Inadequate temperatures, humidity, or poor ventilation usually is the cause.
Keep an eye on the following symptoms:
- open-mouth breathing
- eye secretions
If you observe any of these, quickly seek veterinary attention.
Red footed tortoises are prone to internal and external parasites. Some common parasites are roundworms, ticks, and mites. However, proper treatment can quickly restore your pet to a healthy form.
How To Handle a Red Footed Tortoise?
Red-footed tortoises are one of the friendliest tortoise species. They are relatively human-tolerant in nature as compared to other species. Adult tortoises are more interactive than hatchlings. Sometimes, they even ask for gentle back scratches and strokes.
However, always build trust with your pet before handling it. Always pick a red footed tortoise upright not upside down and close to the ground. Avoid pinning them hard to the ground, as this might scare them away.
Where Can You Buy Red Footed Tortoise?
Red foots as pets are best suited for those who can make a lifelong commitment to their pets. Tortoises can be the most peaceful pets when given a proper diet and enclosure.
Therefore, if you are looking to buy one, go to any reptile specialty store, expo, or trade center for reptiles. Or you can even find them from an online reptile store like XYZReptiles.
When searching, always make sure to buy a captive-bred animal. Otherwise, a wild caught pet can suffer from stress syndromes and have higher disease risks in the future. You can also find a wealth of other information available about these amazing creatues online.