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Red-footed Tortoise

Geochelone carbonaria
Family: Testudinidae
Adult Size: Average 10 to 14 inches in length.

Across South America.

Habitat: Tropical forests and grasslands.
Captive Lifespan: More than 20 Years
Care Level: Beginner


The red-footed tortoise is a captive-bred, readily available and fairly hardy tortoise that makes a wonderful captive.

Red-footed tortoises require strong enclosures–the sides should be taller than the combined heights of the occupants, the floor area should be 10 times the size of the occupants. It is best to make an indoor tortoise enclosure long and relatively narrow. A temperature gradient should be provided by heating one end of the enclosure (between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit) using a full-spectrum incandescent basking light. A hot rock or heat tape may also be used so long as a cool area is always provided.

Red-footed tortoises are almost half bone and shell, so they have a great need for calcium. In order to absorb all the calcium they require, calcium levels in their diet must exceed phosphorus levels. Foods that are high in calcium, but low in phosphorus, include dandelion greens, collard greens, parsley, kelp, watercress, celery and orange rind. An almost exclusive vegetarian diet is best; pesticide-free grass can provide roughage.

For more information, read our detailed red-footed tortoise care sheet.