When you consider a redfoot tortoise diet a key thing to remember is these tortoises aren’t picky about their food and have a varied diet like most forest tortoise species, but you need to ensure you have the optimal diet.
The right redfoot tortoise diet consists of both plant- and animal-based foods.
However, it is heavily weighted toward fruit and plant-derived foods and includes only a small amount of animal-based protein.
Fortunately, it’s easy to feed your redfoot an assortment of foods that provide the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and thrive.
Below you’ll find more detailed information on the right type of redfoot tortoise diet.
The Redfoot Tortoise Diet is Easy to Find
The vast majority of the redfoot tortoise diet should consist of various leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, grasses and other plant-based matter.
What you’re backyard or garden doesn’t provide your local grocery store should carry most if not all of the plant-based foods mentioned below.
Fruit and Leafy Greens Are the Foundation
In the wild Redfoot’s on average have a 55% fruit, 35% greens, and 10% protein diet.
If you’re curious, here’s an article from the Tortoise Trust on the wild redfoot diet. (http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/feeding_redfoots.html)
I’ve found a 50/50 Fruit/Greens mix with a small amount of animal protein a very successful diet mix.
Many leafy greens are high in calcium and low in phosphorous (important for a healthy redfoot), and they’re the foundation of the daily redfoot tortoise diet.
You don’t need to feed your tortoise all the greens listed below.
Pick several, mix them together (fruits and greens) and experiment until you find your redfoot’s favorite combinations.
Feed one of these combinations to your redfoot based on the feeding schedule at the end of this article (switch the combination every few days for added variety and balanced nutrition).
Animal-based foods should be added to this “base diet” no more than once a week. Once a week you can skip the food altogether.
Dandelion, turnip or
Hibiscus leaves and flower
Okra (same family as Hibiscus)
Cactus pads (lite to non-spiny ones found in most Hispanic grocery stores)
Collard greens (occasionally)
Like leafy greens, fruits are an essential part of the redfoot tortoise diet. Here are a few suggestions to add to your tortoise’s leafy greens every other day:
Cantaloupe and other melons
Bananas (very rarely)
Cantaloupe and other melons
Apples (remove all seeds first)
Choose one or more of the following vegetables to add to your mixed leafy greens and fruit once every two weeks or month.
Squash (yellow or winter)
Other Nutritious Plant-Based Foods
Once a month we give them a small amount of mushrooms – primarily shitake or portabella.
Mushrooms contain a tremendous amount of minerals, as well as some not so good stuff, so use sparingly, but do use them as they are a part of the diet of wild Redfoots.
Several other plant-based foods are nutritious and can be added to a redfoot tortoise diet, including the following (make sure all are free of pesticides and herbicides):
Various flowers, including rose and dandelion
Hosta leaves (mine won’t touch them, but yours may not be as finicky)
Studies indicate that a strictly vegetarian redfoot tortoise diet often leads to neurological problems like hind-leg paralysis.
Low fertility rates and a general failure to thrive can also be caused by feeding a strictly vegetarian redfoot tortoise diet.
Redfoots need small amounts of animal-based protein, but only once a week. Here is the best option:
Low fat dry cat food (just add some water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes ahead of time to soften it up.
This is what we use for cat food.
You can find it at PetSmart, Petco and many grocery stores.
You can also give them these items, but I never have and they aren’t any the worse for it.
Live slugs, snails, worms and beetles
Chopped hard-boiled eggs
Steamed or boiled chicken or shrimp
Foods to Avoid
Several foods have little nutritional value, can interfere with nutrient absorption (Oxalac acid) or otherwise have negative health effects.
Among them are:
Iceberg lettuce, celery and cucumber
All grains, including wheat, soy, bread and pasta
Bok choy, rhubarb and beet greens
Redfoots need lots of calcium, so sprinkle your tortoise’s food with a tiny amount of a phosphorous-free calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement ever other feeding.
Too much calcium can also cause problems, so be stingy. You can also keep a cuttle bone in the pen will also provide calcium.
We do a schedule of 2 days of food, off 2 days. For the first 2 days, greens, the next 2 days food days, fruit.
Once they reach 9 months of age every 7-10 days we give them a fruit and the low fat dry cat food mix.
Mix 4-6 pellets per tortoise with the fruit and in 10-15 minutes the cat food pellets soften up.
Sprinkle the fruit/ cat food mix with Calcium Carbonate powder. “Chop/slice” everything small enough. – “bite-size”
Feed your redfoot as much as it will eat in 30 minutes.
The best way is to put the food on a decent size slate, like samples you can find at Home Depot or Lowe’s.
This way they’re biting down on the food and the slate surface acts as a file to keep their beak at a normal length.
Here’s a handy list of the best foods to feed your Redfoot tortoise by Calcium to Phosphorus ratio and the Oxalate level of the food item.
Calcium- Phosphorus and Oxalate food items