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Red Footed Tortoises


red foot tortoise

Red Foot Tortoise

Photo © Lianne McLeod, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Scientific Name:

Geochelone carbonaria

Common Names:

Sometimes also called red foot (or redfoot), redleg, or Savanna tortoises. There is a slightly smaller variety called the Cherry-head as well.

Life Span:

Red footed tortoises live up to 50 years, possibly longer.


Red footed tortoises often reach a length of 10-14 inches, although they can be larger (16 inches or more). A slightly smaller "dwarf" variety is also being sold, commonly called the cherry-head that only attains a length of 10 - 12 inches as an adult. They can reach weights up to 30 pounds.


In the wild, red footed tortoises are omnivores and eat a wider range of foods than many other tortoises. It is important to not overfeed animal protein, though; one very small serving of moistened low fat cat food or lean meat (e.g. 1 ounce for a full grown red foot) every 1-2 weeks is enough. A variety of fresh leafy greens (dandelion greens, endive, mustard greens, escarole; not lettuce, spinach or kale), vegetables, and fruits should also be fed (they also tolerate fruit better than many other species). A calcium and vitamin D3 supplement should be used.

Housing - Outdoors:

This species is tropical and prefers a humid climate. A sturdy escape-proof enclosure can be provided, and a sprinkler or mister can be used to increase the humidity if needed. A muddy wallow will be used by this tortoise, as will a pan of water. An area densely planted with vegetation provides a cool retreat. A doghouse-type shelter can be used, and should be heated if nightime temperatures drop below 65-70 F (18-21 C). Daytime temperatures can be up to 90-95 F (32-35 C).

Housing - Indoors:

A large enclosure is needed - 4 feet by 6 feet or larger. Cypress bark as a substrate helps retain humidity, although paper will work and is easy to clean. A UVA/UVB is necessary indoors, and the enclosure should be heated, with a basking spot of 95 F (35 C) and a gradient from about 80-90 F (27-32 C). Nightime temperatures can drop to about 75 F (24 C). A pan of water should be provided and the enclosure should be kept humid. A hide should be placeed at the cool end of the enclosure.


This species does not hibernate.

Care Sheets Online:

More Tortoise Information

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