The redfoot tortoise is also called the red-foot, red-leg, red-legged and savannah tortoise. These medium-sized reptiles are popular as pets because of their inexpensive price, colorful markings, long lifespan and inquisitive personalities. Making sure you get your Redfoot Tortoise care correct is critical because when you do they will reward you by living as long as 50-80 years.
Here are some basic Redfoot Tortoise care tips to keep in mind:
In the wild, the redfoots lives in the tropics of South America and southern Central America. As a result, they need warm, humid living conditions whether you keep it in an indoor enclosure or an outdoor pen.
Indoor: The temperature of an indoor enclosure should be kept between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 85 is optimal, slightly lower at nighttime is okay). A UVB lamp is important for your overall Redfoot Tortoise care for their long-term health because it simulates natural light. You should also provide a heat lamp that creates a warmer area (85 to 90 degrees) where your redfoot tortoise can bask.
The high humidity these tortoises need can be achieved by running a humidifier or mister in the room. Spraying some water onto the substrate (the layer of material that covers the bottom of the enclosure) below the basking lamp will also raise the humidity in the immediate area.
A glass aquarium or plastic tub will work as a temporary home for a baby redfoot tortoise. Bigger tortoises need a large indoor pen or a “turtle table.” The minimum size for an adult redfoot is 6’ x 6’, but the larger the better. These reptiles need room to roam and move around, so build or get one that’s as large as your room can accommodate.
Lighting should be low-level and diffuse unless you provide a shaded area.
A 2 inch layer of cypress mulch over 3-4 inches of bagged topsoil (not potting soil because it contains some unwanted materials) works well as the substrate of an indoor enclosure. Never use cat litter – it can cause significant health problems for your tortoise. The substrate should be kept slightly damp.
A few large stones to hide behind will help your tortoise feel safe and secure. If you’re using topsoil as your substrate, consider planting some edible plants.
Outdoor: An outdoor pen is actually better from a Redfoot Tortoise care perspective as long as your climate is humid and the temperature doesn’t go below 60 or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Babies should be brought inside if the temperature falls below 70.
Adults can handle temperatures down to 60 degrees, but they must be brought inside whenever it gets cooler.
The pen should be in a place that’s sunny but also offers some shade. Provide a waterproof shelter (a small doghouse would work well) as a refuge from the rain for your redfoot tortoise.
The pen should be solidly built and roofed with chain-link fencing or sturdy screening for protection against dogs, cats, raccoons and other predators. Make sure it’s escape-proof.
An assortment of edible plants can be planted to provide both food and shelter.
Keep one section muddy for a tortoise wallow.
Redfoot Tortoise Care – Water
Your redfoot tortoise needs access to fresh water at all times. Make sure its water dish has shallow rims and is large enough to let your tortoise drink and soak comfortably. Change the water frequently.
An important part of Redfoot Tortoise care is food. A redfoot can go without food for quite a while, but it’s important to make sure they eat the right foods. In the wild, redfoot tortoises are omnivorous and eat an assortment of fruits, leaves, roots, shoots, seeds, grasses, beetles, snails and worms, among other things.
Whole fruits and veggies like kiwi fruit, apples, papaya, mangos, squash, any type opf melon and okra provide valuable nutrients.
An occasional (once every week or two) live bug, garden slug, worm or low fat catfood adds animal-based protein.
Commercial tortoise food, such as ZooMed Forest Tortoise and Mazuri Tortoise food can be a weekly a supplement to fresh foods. Small amounts of a calcium supplement should be given at every other meal. Tortoises kept in an outdoor pen should be allowed to forage for at least some of their food.
Basic Safety Precautions
All reptiles, including redfoot tortoises, can carry pathogenic Salmonella bacteria. To avoid getting sick, take some basic safety precautions.
It may not seem like it, but an important part of your Redfoot Tortoise care is to wash your hands thoroughly immediately after handling your tortoise, touching its food or water dish, changing or adding new substrate to its enclosure, or removing fecal material.
Another excellent Redfoot breeder is Terry Kilgore and you can find his comprehensive care sheet here.
Keep all of this in mind and your Redfoot Tortoise care will be just what they need for a long, healthy, and productive life with you.