Scientific name – Geochelone carbonaria
Location (origins) – South America, Costa Rica.
In Canada Red Foot Tortoises come from local breeders usually taking 10 years or more to get offspring which explains the high price tags in Canada!
Life span – Average 30 years +!!
Diet – Red Foot Tortoises are omnivores, so an occasional feeding of lean meat or low cat cat food is ok , however the bulk of their diet will be fruits and vegetables . Items such as dandelion greens , endive, mustard greens, carrot peelings , kiwi, grapes, banana, prickly pear fruit , spinach etc. Avoid lettuce as it has no real value. Experiment with the veggies and fruits. Red Foots will eat a huge variety of items and the salad you eat will be a great meal to share together !! For variety a good pellet mixture , such as Rep Cal Tortoise food , soaked in a small amount of warm water , will add extra good nutrition. Adding a good calcium supplement bi-weekly is also recommended , Rep-cals calcium powder is an excellent product to bump up the calcium levels in your tortoise.
Size – Red Foot Tortoises can reach sizes between 10 inches and 16 inches .
Housing – Typically a lager surface area is best. An area roughly 24 x 36 is fine for the minimum requirements . Laguna has pond forms that are varying sizes and work well for tortoise enclosures , glass or acrylic tanks can be used too, but the pond forms are lighter and easier to move and clean. They prefer dry surface areas with moderate to high humidity ( 60-80% ) , using substrates that keep humidity works best , misting will be absorbed and retained and provide a great humidity level. A coconut / peat moss blend works well , Plantation Soil from Hagen is a great item , inexpensive and biodegradable. Provide a water wading area big enough for the tortoise to soak in. An area for hiding and shade also must be considered.
Temperature and lighting– Daytime temperatures of 32-35 f ( 90-95c) and nighttime temperatures above 20 c ( 65-70f) are best. Heat should be concentrated at one end of the enclosure with a cooler shaded area at the other end. Using a good quality heat/UVA bulb is crucial , T-rex and Exo-terra both have all in one bulbs that provide heat and sun spectrum UVA and UVB. One bulb means less wiring and clutter above your tortoise enclosure , however you can also split the heat and UV bulbs into two fixtures . One for heat , one for fluorescent UV bulbs ( 5.0 UVB ). Normal daylight hours work best ,10-12 hour cycles (yes they need to sleep at night !! ). A good thermometer and hygrometer will help you keep accurate readings of the important heat and humidity levels in your tortoises’ home.
Additional notes on behavior– Red Foots are curious by nature and generally are friendly, eating a favorite treat from your hand is a common sight , however keep track of them if you let them roam in your home or in your yard !! Being curious they have no fear of predators and traffic !! Red foots are very rewarding and easy pets to care for , providing many years of enjoyment and companionship. Few reptiles can match their laid back nature and as a result are one of the best reptiles that can be kept.