Red-Footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis Carbonaria)

Red footed Tortoise

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Red-footed Tortoise Facts

Red-footed Tortoises are closely related Yellow-Footed tortoises. On average, adults get to be about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long, with the exception here and there for some who grow up to 19 inches (40 centimeters).

Its carapace is dark in color and is loaf shaped. They have lighter patches in the center of each scale. The limbs are dark and have scales that are brightly colored.

The bright colors of the scales that are found on the legs range from red to pale yellow.

One thing to notice is that as the red foot tortoise grows up, its head will change color from red to a yellow.

Before we jump into where these tortoises are found, below is a quick reference guide for the recommended products you can pick up in order to care properly for your new pet.

Recommended Products

Where are the Red-Footed Tortoise found?

Red footed Tortoise looking at camera

Red-footed tortoises are naturally found in the northern area of South America. They live in the savannah and forest ranges in the Amazon basin.

These tortoises generally love environments that range from dry grass-lands to humid forests. They always seem to be very happy after rainstorms. Rainstorms also seem to stimulate breeding.

Red-Footed Tortoise diet

Red footed Tortoise Diet

These tortoises are quite easy when it comes to being fed. You can feed them things like hibiscus, store bought vegetables, weeds or grass from your yard (so long as you don’t use any pesticides), the occasional fruit like watermelon, cantaloupe or melon.

Mazuri Tortoise Diet is also a great food for these tortoises and will nourish them well.

Fungi and invertebrates also seem to be among Red-footed tortoise favorite foods. They particularly enjoy eating carrions and any bugs that they can get a hold of.

One cool thing about them is that they will even recognize you and come up to you when you approach them.

Red Footed Tortoise Habitat


Despite having carapaces for protection, you should go an extra mile to ensure that you Red Footed tortoises are safe from predators. We recommend keeping baby red footed tortoises in the zoo med tortoise house as it has a lid that can be locked and you can also easily access them for feeding.

As they grow larger then you can build something larger to house them. The should have a space where they can go to either warm up if it is a colder climate, or to cool off in a hotter one.

They will need a full spectrum UVB light to ensure they can absorb and process all the nutrients in the food they are eating. Temperature wise you should aim to have their basking area around 90 – 100 degrees fahrenheit.

There is a great lighting kit by Zoo Med that has both a UVB light and an 50 watt heat bulb included in it. The Aluminum dome can handle up to a 100 watt bulb, so if you need to get a higher wattage bulb to increase the heat, you have that flexibility.

Humidity wise these tortoises enjoy a good spray down here and there and will actually become more active, as you can see in the video below. One last thing that could be handy is a thermometer to monitor the temperature and humidity of the basking area.

Red Footed Tortoise Breeding


First you need to make sure you have a male and and a female. An easy way to check that is by looking at their shell and plastron (underside). Males will have a shell that from the top looks like it comes in in the middle, similar to a coke bottle. Additionally if you look at their plastron you will see that in concaves inward.

Female Red Footed Tortoises will have a wider shell when looking at them from the top, and when looking at them from the bottom will have a more flat shell. This is where their eggs are housed.

You should only start breeding these tortoises once they have reached the appropriate size and age. The recommended minimum size is around 5 to 8 inches long.

When all the factors are right, instincts will take control and the mating process will begin. You need only one female Red Footed tortoise and one male to be able to achieve breeding success.

Hatchling care

Hatchlings are more sensitive to dehydration and drafts than adults. Their housing should protect them from outside predators and they should of course have proper heating and lighting as mentioned above.

On the first week, the hatchlings survive by feeding on yolk sac reserves. They can then feed on green vegetables. They will eat more and more as they grow bigger.

Next up is an in depth video guide on caring for these little guys.

How to Care for a Redfoot Tortoise Video


The red footed tortoise is a great tortoise to have as a pet. As with any turtle you need to be committed to keeping it for the long term and be aware they get to be up to around 30 to 40 lbs.

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About the author

Brock Yates

Brock Yates has a passion for educating people about turtles & tortoises. He manages several websites and has a goal of getting everyone the best and most accurate information to help them with their turtle & tortoise care.


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