The Red Foot Tortoise is a decent size into adult hood, and so will need a large amount of space to enable proper movement and enrichment opportunity. A table enclosure of at least 5 x 3ft in size is recommended although the more space the better and larger individuals would definitely benefit from a greater area. The housing for a tortoise comes best in the form of a tortoise table, which will allow for the best airflow - essential for a species that are prone to respiratory infections in an enclosed vivarium. This table should incorporate a sufficient amount of hiding opportunity so your tortoise feels secure, and also a number of decor additions such as rocks, wood and vegetation - live vegetation can double as a great nutritional opportunity. Tortoises will not be able to climb, but are built to tackle rough terrain and lower obstacles which will make their enclosure more mentally stimulating and a more natural setting. Being a central and south american forest species, Red Foots also require moderate humidity, so something which will hold a little moisture is best, such as soil or Arcadia's Earth Mix.
During colder seasons the metabolism of this species would naturally slow, to enable them to live on very little food in the wild, though in captivity there will always be access to food and basking opportunity. This does not mean that they will not enter a state of sluggish behaviour where they eat and do a little less than usual, but they will be 'awake' all year round. Being diurnally active, most of their activity will take place during daylight hours, giving plenty of opportunity for you to see your pet. Handling of your tortoise will become difficult as it grows as they do not enjoy being suspended, and also seem to be quite independent animals.
An essential consideration for your table is the heating and lighting for which there are a couple of options. The easiest way to provide both in a table setup is a mercury vapour bulb (heat and UV in one bulb), though these will need to be attached to a movable bracket for temperature regulation as they cannot be thermostatically controlled. For more information, see our Tortoise Table Lighting blog. The Red Foot will require a basking of around 32C at one end, with the cooler end displaying temperatures of around 22 - 25C. During the night, temperatures can safely drop to 15C. Temperatures can be monitored with an accurate digital thermometer. UV should always be used in a 12 hour cycle and replaced regularly (it will depend on the bulb to how often), after the bulb lifespan is up, it will no longer be emitting sufficient UV which can cause your tortoise to fall ill.
For this species, the humidity needs to be between 60 - 80% - which can be monitored with an accurate digital hygrometer. To reach higher humidity, good substrate choices, regular misting and possibly foggers should be utilised. Live plants can also contribute to humidity, though they may not last long if your tortoise takes a liking to them! It is essential to have a shallow water dish within the enclosure to ensure your tortoise is able to get into the dish for drinking and bathing, these dishes will need regular cleaning.
To keep a healthy tortoise you will need to provide a good variety of veg, weeds, flowers and live plants, on which calcium, multivitamins and D3 should be dusted in a relevant routine - these will ensure that a healthy and nutritionally valuable diet is provided. Red Foots are also one of the only tortoises that will feed on meat if given opportunity - naturally taking advantage of carrion in the wild. The occasional pinky mouse and egg can be a great protein boost although ensure provision is in moderation.
Swell SuperStore Red Foot Tortoise:
- Current Age/Size - 3.5 inches (shell) approx
- Adult Expected Size - 11 - 14 inches
- Habitat - Central and South American species that inhabits forest habitats. Terrestrial living.
- Required Enclosure Size - 5 x 3ft Table or larger
- UV Lighting - 2 - 3 UVI (Mercury Vapour or 6% T5 - enclosure height dependent)
- Expected Lifespan - 50+ Years
- Temperature Gradient - 22 - 32C
- Humidity Levels - 60 - 80%
- Feeding - Herbivores - veg, weeds, flowers and live plants / will also eat pinky mice and egg in moderation (mimicking wild habits of feeding on carrion)
- Handling - Usually docile nature but become physically difficult to handle the larger they get.
If you like the look of these animals, and would like any further information, please call the shop directly on 0161 351 4705, or contact them for more images or information at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Livestock List is updated regularly, but please call ahead to ensure we still have what you want, or to reserve something you may have seen.