The Red-footed tortoise is an excellent choice for a first time tortoise owner as, besides being an extremely attractive tortoise, it is quite hardy, is generally an easy keeper, and does not grow so large as to become a major problem as years go by.
A native of South America, the Red-footed tortoise requires a tropical or subtropical environment if it is to remain healthy.
If you live in a more temperate zone, heat sources will definitely be needed, especially during the winter months. These tortoises do not hibernate, and “expect” the days to be somewhat warm and balmy.
Red Footed Tortoise Care Sheet
The Red-footed tortoise is not going to become a huge animal, similar to the famous Galapagos species, but when fully grown may be between 12″ and 16″ long and can weigh up to around 30 pounds.
Still, it should have ample living quarters, especially when one considers it can be a life long pet, having a life span of around 50 years.
One of the features that makes the Red-footed tortoise easy to keep is the fact it is not a picky eater, as some members of the tortoise family are known to be.
It is omnivorous, eating both meat and vegetation. The Red footed tortoise has a voracious appetite, and will eat food most any time of the day or night if you are around to feed it.
This tortoise will eat most any kind of vegetable and likes a wide variety of fruit. It will eat meat, either dry or canned dog or cat food being acceptable, but should be fed meat sparingly, and lean meat is best.
Meat, being high in protein and phosphates, tends to be low in calcium, which the tortoise requires to keep its shell healthy. Too much meat may reduce the amount of calcium that can be absorbed, and eventually could create health problems.
If you must feed the tortoise meat, do it as a treat rather than as part of a regular meal.
If the weather is warm enough for the tortoise to be kept out of doors, at least for a part of the year, make certain its living quarters are room, escape proof, and predator proof.
This usually means providing the animal with a dog house-like shelter, a cage with a covered top to keep critters out, and sides that go into the ground far enough to keep the tortoise, which enjoys digging, from tunneling out.
Water And Light
The red-footed tortoise should have clean water for drinking and bathing. It doesn’t swim, so don’t give it too deep a pan or pool of water to soak in or it could drown.
If conditions permit, a place for a mud bath will always be a welcome feature.
When living in something other than a tropical environment, a basking lamp will be a needed feature, and if sunlight becomes scarce, especially when the tortoise is indoors, a light, such as a mercury vapor light, which provides vitamin D3 is essential.
This vitamin is needed by the tortoise to create calcium for shell building and maintenance.
Give Plenty Of Water
Getting back to the water situation, be aware that this animal will drink more than one might expect. It is not an animal that can go long periods without drinking, and coming from a humid habitat, needs to replenish its bodily fluids constantly.
Besides a container of clean water, vegetables and fruits having a high water content are good choices. Even an occasional misting in addition to bathing can help the tortoise get through each day.
Finally, the Red-footed tortoise is a very active animal. It won’t just sit there and peek out at you from within its shell, which is one reason why it needs some room to roam.
It makes a good pet, and is even great with children who are old enough to now how to treat a pet properly.