Your redfoot tortoise habitat needs to be a safe, secure, warm place to live. Although several different elements are required, none of them are difficult or expensive.
Here’s some information on how you can create a good redfoot tortoise habitat.
First, although redfoot tortoises can certainly thrive if they’re kept indoors, if the climate is suitable it’s always better to house them in outdoor pens.
These are medium-sized tortoises and they need a fair bit of room to wander about.
The Outdoor Redfoot Tortoise Habitat
An outdoor pen should provide enough space for your redfoot to walk around.
The walls should be at least 1 ½ times as tall as the length of your tortoise. Our outdoor pen is a 6 foot wide by 16 feet long (96 square feet) for our two adults.
It’s big enough for 3-4 adults, but spacious for two.
It’s also heavily planted with Large Hosta plants to provide the shady areas and security they require in order to act likea normal Redfoot Tortoise.
That size gives them plenty of room to move around, which is important to good overall health.
The Indoor Redfoot Tortoise Habitat
An indoor redfoot tortoise habitat should also be spacious. It should measure at least 6 feet x 6 feet for one adult.
Our indoor redfoot tortoise habitat is a 4 x 8 foot box (32 square feet) which you can see in the picture below.
A suitably sized “tortoise table” or child’s wading pool is often used as an adult redfoot tortoise habitat. A plastic tub can serve as a short-term home for hatchlings.
The goals for an indoor redfoot tortoise habitat are maximum floor space, a good temperature gradient (hot, warm and cooler areas), the proper humidity, and fairly low walls to permit air circulation and prevent overheating.
The right amounts of heat, humidity, sunlight and shade are essential. Redfoot tortoises are native to tropical South America and require high humidity in at least part of their habitat.
By keeping the substrate (the material lining the bottom of an indoor habitat) moist and/or running a humidifier or mister in the area, you can raise an indoor habitat’s humidity level.
Here’s a short video of our hatchling and yearling Redfoot tortoise habitat.
The optimum temperature for a redfoot tortoise habitat is between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but slightly lower temperatures at night shouldn’t cause problems.
If your redfoot is living outside and the temperature will drop too low (70 for hatchlings, 60 for adults), bring it inside temporarily.
At least one warmer (85 to 90 degrees) basking area is also important. A “basking lamp” provides heat and easily creates this type of area in an indoor enclosure.
UVB lamps placed above an indoor enclosure will simulate natural sunlight and help your tortoise metabolize the calcium in its diet.
Plenty of shaded areas and hidey-holes should also be provided. Outdoor pens should have sunny and shaded areas, along with a waterproof, easy-to-clean shelter that your tortoise can use to get out of the rain. Some owners use small doghouses for this purpose.
Indoor and outdoor redfoot tortoise habitats should always contain at least one shallow pan or dish of fresh water – an 8” plant pot saucer works well.
In addition to being your tortoise’s source of drinking water, the pan will give your tortoise a place to enjoy a soak. A deep water bowl is a big no-no because it’s a drowning hazard.
Adding some rocks, small logs or piles of straw will give your tortoise a place where it can hide and feel safe and secure. A muddy area in an outdoor pen will give your redfoot a cool, relaxing place to wallow.
Any tortoise habitat should be escape-proof and prevent predators like stray dogs, cats and raccoons from attacking.
You might not think predators would be a problem if you keep your redfoot indoors, but try convincing your cat or dog to leave it alone.
Make sure your redfoot tortoise habitat is sturdy and secure.
The bottom of an indoor redfoot tortoise habitat should be lined with a substrate.
Several materials can be used for this purpose, but two of the best (and least expensive) are cypress mulch (or bark) and topsoil.
Keep the substrate slightly moist – if it dries out your redfoot’s nose and eyes could become irritated – and change it once a month or so.