Red Footed Tortoise

Western New York Herpetological Society 

www.wnyherp.org © 2001 - 2002 by Western New York Herpetological Society 

This document is for guidance only and should not be used as the sole source of information. New information is being developed daily. It is recommend that a concerted effort be made to maintain up-to-date knowledge of the animals of interest. 

Common Name: Red-Footed Tortise

Latin name:  Geochelone carbonaria

Native to: Tropical South America

Size: 10-14 inches at maturity; males are larger than females of same age.

Life span: 40-50 years

General appearance: Carapace (top part of shell) is black with the center of each scute being yellow.The plastron (bottom part of the shell) is yellow. In mature males the rear of the plastron is concave. There are red scales on the head and legs.

Housing requirements: 

Enclosure: Should be tropical, (high humidity). Space requirements should be at least 2 sq. ft. per inch of shell length. A 4 in. youngster would need 8 sq. ft. They need a shallow pan of water approximately 1⁄3 of their shell height to drink from and soak in. A source of UV light is recommended.

Temperature: Temperature during the day should be 85-90 deg. F. at one end of the enclosure and 70°-75°F at the other. This can be accomplished with the use of a heat lamp or pad (waterproof).

Heat/Light: There has been no evidence to suggest that photoperiods affect the keeping of this species. If a regular photoperiod is provided it is recommended to use fluorescent bulbs in order to minimize the extra heat generated by incandescent bulbs. When providing heat, do NOT use hot rocks. Hot rocks are notoriously unpredictable and can cause serious burn injuries to your animal. Red basking bulbs or ceramic emitters can be used to generate basking spots. Under the tank heating pads can also be used to help raise the ambient temperature of the enclosure. It is recommended to routinely check the temperatures of the enclosure with thermometers.

Substrate: Newspaper, aspen, Cyprus are a few. (But not cedar or pine).

Diet: Their diet consists of vegetables, fruit and some protein. Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts should be fed sparingly. Protein could consist of earthworms, mealworms, crickets, etc. They should be fed 2-3 times a week, with their food being dusted with a D3 vitamin and calcium. A commercially prepared tortoise food is also a recommended source of food.

Maintenance: Changing the substrate and water when soiled is a must. Handlers are advised to wash their hands thoroughly after handling any reptile or reptile cage furnishings.

Other references or recommended reading: 

Encyclopedia of turtles: Dr. Peter C. H. Pritchard

Turtles of the World: Carl H. Ernst and Roger W. Barbour

Encyclopedia of Keeping and Breeding Tortoises and Freshwater turtles: A.C. Highfield


Western New York Herpetological Society 

www.wnyherp.org © 2001 - 2002 by Western New York Herpetological Society 

This document is for guidance only and should not be used as the sole source of information. New information is being developed daily. It is recommend that a concerted effort be made to maintain up-to-date knowledge of the animals of interest.