The Red-Footed Tortoise
Species: Geochelone carbonaria.
The red-footed tortoise is native to South America to the east of the Andes, in western Panama and to the south through Columbia, Venezuela, Guiana and Brazil.
It prefers damp woodland with soft and loose substrate which is convenient for digging holes. They are not found in dry areas.
These tortoises generally average 45-70 cm.
Males are a little larger than females, they have concave plastron. Specimens from different populations can have different sizes and coloration. The tortoise’s carapace is high, black with yellow-orange spots in the center of scales. They have red or orange pattern on the head and on front legs. There is a wide yellow-orange or red band behind each eye. Young tortoises have yellow or light brown carapace that becomes black with occasional yellow spots on the scales when they get older.
Like all tortoises, the red-footed tortoise is calm and peaceful animal.
It has docile personality and can be kept in groups.
It is a terrestrial species.
They enjoy a bath, so you should take them out of the tank and hold under a stream of water at least once a week.
It is friendly towards people and can get tame.
The red-footed tortoise needs a horizontal tank starting from 100х50х60 cm in size for one tortoise. If you keep a group, a bigger tank will be required. For substrate you can use a mixture of turf and sphagnum, it can be easily kept damp but not wet. Tortoises like burying themselves in such substrate. You should put a heat mat or a heat cord under a half of the tank, so that the tortoise can choose under which temperature they want to stay. A water bowl is a must; thr tortoise will spend some time there, so the water has to be changed daily.
The ambient temperature should be between 21 and 24°C at night in the “cold part” and between 29 and 31°C in the heated part.
The air humidity should be about 60%, so you will have to mist daily.
The tortoises need 10 – 12 hours of light a day from filament and UV lamps.
It is a herbivore species, but it enjoys occasional animal feed. Their menu in captivity has to include varied vegetables (squash, pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper), fruit (apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, bananas, grapes, apricots), berries (strawberries, dewberries) and mushrooms. They can eat frozen food, but it has to be defrosted prior to feeding. As animal feed you can use eggs and lean meat, preferably beef and ox heart.
A lot of spinach and cabbage can lead to diarrhea.
Once a week you have to add to the food minerals and vitamins.
You should feed the turtle once a day and take away the uneaten food in order for it not to rot.
These tortoises normally have good appetite.
This species is not well studied due to its constantly decreasing head count (they are caught for sales as pets and for food).
This tortoise needs a big tank with water. It is calm and peaceful, can be tamed and hand-fed. Easy to keep.
These turtles get ill very rarely and normally it happens due to poor husbandry. Improper diet can lead to diarrhea (shapeless stool). In this case you should add to the water in the tank decoction of oak bark until the water gets light brown. It is very good for irritated bowels.
For breeding you will need a large tank (1.2x1.2x6 m large). The substrate should be at least 50 cm thick for the tortoise to dig a nest.
You should place together a female and several males. After mating the female lays 1-8 eggs. You should take away the eggs and place them into an incubator with the humidity level almost 100%. The sex of hatchlings depends on the temperature in the incubator; it if is over 31 degree, the majority of hatchlings will be females, if it is below 28 degrees, then the majority are males. The ideal temperature for the incubation is 29 degrees. The incubation period lasts for 105-202 days (150 days on average).
Average life span is about 30 years.