Free Roam Red Foot Tortoise

Muffin

New Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
San Jose
I think this is more of an indoor vs outdoor question.

I have an 11 year old Red foot tortoise that I allow to free roam in my back yard.
The back yard is secured with both sunny and shaded areas.

Every morning, I take him out and set him in a warm water tray with food on the side. He'll sometimes soak there for a bit before taking off.
In the evenings, I find him daily and place him in a moss box inside the house. We do this to protect him from the cold and predators.

My biggest question is if it's ok to let him wander outside in our dry climate? I tried installing a mist system but it only wets / dampens so much yard area. I feel like the climate is too dry for him as and I should keep him contained in a humid enclosure.

I'm in San Jose, CA where the temperature is moderate, but can have hot/dry summers.
What do others in the bay area do for their tropical pets?
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
41,902
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Spray the yard down several times a day or run a sprinkler or the misting system on a timer to go off several times a day.
Outside is always better. Specially if they are not a hatchling. Added work on your part is needed to up the humidity.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
56,779
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I think this is more of an indoor vs outdoor question.

I have an 11 year old Red foot tortoise that I allow to free roam in my back yard.
The back yard is secured with both sunny and shaded areas.

Every morning, I take him out and set him in a warm water tray with food on the side. He'll sometimes soak there for a bit before taking off.
In the evenings, I find him daily and place him in a moss box inside the house. We do this to protect him from the cold and predators.

My biggest question is if it's ok to let him wander outside in our dry climate? I tried installing a mist system but it only wets / dampens so much yard area. I feel like the climate is too dry for him as and I should keep him contained in a humid enclosure.

I'm in San Jose, CA where the temperature is moderate, but can have hot/dry summers.
What do others in the bay area do for their tropical pets?
You are in the wrong climate for this species. With an extraordinary amount of expense, time and effort, you can make a heavily planted yard adequate for them in warmer weather with sprinklers and misters. Its still a compromise and they do much better in areas with high humidity.

Also, moss of any kind, should not be used with tortoises. They will eat the long fibered stuff and it can cause impaction, and the dirt-like stuff will sometimes burn their plastrons.

I use a humidified heated night box for some species and this works, but I don't keep forest torts like RFs Indotestudo, Manouria, or Aldabras. Our climates are very similar.
 

Muffin

New Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
San Jose
Spray the yard down several times a day or run a sprinkler or the misting system on a timer to go off several times a day.
Outside is always better. Specially if they are not a hatchling. Added work on your part is needed to up the humidity
Thanks for the input. I"ll look into setting up a sprinkler
You are in the wrong climate for this species. With an extraordinary amount of expense, time and effort, you can make a heavily planted yard adequate for them in warmer weather with sprinklers and misters. Its still a compromise and they do much better in areas with high humidity.

Also, moss of any kind, should not be used with tortoises. They will eat the long fibered stuff and it can cause impaction, and the dirt-like stuff will sometimes burn their plastrons.

I use a humidified heated night box for some species and this works, but I don't keep forest torts like RFs Indotestudo, Manouria, or Aldabras. Our climates are very similar.
Agree, this is not the right climate for such a tropical species. I rescued him from a friend's uncle who had it in a small glass terrarium it's entire life and only ate some generic type pellets. Since getting him in 2015, he's become much healthier and active. I even built a winter house with operable roof to tend to UVb, heat lamps and humidifier. I hate to say it, but part of me feels like I need to relinquish him to a responsible owner in a hot/humid region..... But I still want to try to do more and am looking into strategies to letting him roam outside during the day.
 

ZenHerper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
2,080
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
...strategies to letting him roam outside during the day.
He needs somewhere you can set up a micro-climate...free-running torts often escape standard-fenced-in yards anyway.

If you construct a large, secure outdoor habitat that is heavily planted with water-loving plants that can take a lot of watering and create a lot of shade, that might succeed. You'd need to monitor it several times a day, and continue bringing him indoors at night. Wet cypress mulch might yield better results than moss (it will hold more water, on balance, and release it more slowly under a CHE). It's a nice outdoor mulch as well.

Redfoots need a very tight range of temps in the low 80s, day and night; there may be significant times of year that you'd need some kind of good-sized indoor arrangement when the weather and your enclosure's micro-climate just won't cooperate days on end.

@Toddrickfl1 @jsheffield @ZEROPILOT @Cherryshell
 

Cherryshell

Active Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2021
Messages
188
Location (City and/or State)
Manassas Virginia
An idea for an indoor/outdoor enclosures might just be a pair of large greenhouse tents. This will allow you to control the climate much easier without having to turn your entire backyard into a tropical environment and costing you an arm and a leg because of the water bill.
 

Muffin

New Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
San Jose
An idea for an indoor/outdoor enclosures might just be a pair of large greenhouse tents. This will allow you to control the climate much easier without having to turn your entire backyard into a tropical environment and costing you an arm and a leg because of the water bill.
that was actually my first enclosure. I bought greenhouse tent and rigged that with lamps and a fogger. He quickly recognized the area and crawled in and out of it at his leisure. This was a great solution during the winter as he would walk around in the morning and settle back down in the tent on his own. Unfortunately, he'll sometimes leave the greenhouse and I'll find him hiding in some other dry area. Perhaps I need to contain / restrict his free roaming area a bit to just the microclimatic areas and not give him full access throughout the yard.
 

maggie3fan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 30, 2018
Messages
6,327
Location (City and/or State)
PacificNorthWest
Hi and welcome...I used to live in the Story and King area...many years ago. Anyhow...this concerning the Redfoot, instead of looking at your yard as a whole...why not do something like I do...create a specific smaller pen for a RF. It's easier to plant a smaller area than thinking about your whole yard. And by smaller I mean not the whole yard. You don't need to get rid of him, just change your thinking.
I had an escape problem with the one RF I had...but...here is what I settled on for him....this is his main outside pen, inescapable, until he somehow knocked the lattice down inside the pen and he marched on out just like they was stairs. But... this pen is 10'x10', planted with used bird seed, I throw the bottom trays of the cages out in this pen and whatever the seed, they grow like crazy there...but moving on...
100 0294
Based on my experience with this one little RF and some research I did, I have decided RF's are one of the more personable tortoise species, and based on my experience with Houdini, one of the more intelligent species as well. I used to operate a small special needs turtle and tortoise rescue, and still I end up with them every once in a while.
100 0167
So Houdini would spend most of his day in that pen, after noon I would put him an empty Sulcata pen which is next to the box turtle pond, after the box turtles are in their houses, Houdini would mosey down to the pond for a drink and a swim.
100 0305
I also think, based on my experience with Houdini that they are actively intelligent, they need something to do all day...like a border collie...gotta do something. So he spends a wile swimming and basking,
100 0295
100 0300
When he's thru drinking and swimming, I moved him to a third pen, shaded and strewn with obstacles for climbing,
100 8235
So anyway, I hope you have a sense of humor about my story...but the basic premise is to make a smaller micro-climate...not a whole yard climate. you can only do what you can do, and sometimes getting rid of them isn't the right thing...or necessary
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Tortoise Club
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
41,902
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
A lot of people have tortoises in the wrong climate. All that means is we have to work a little harder to make it right. It can be done, and I think it's great that you saved the poor thing and is doing what it takes to give him a better life.
I think the suggestions given of making a smaller more manageable area for him would work best and make it easier for you to give a more humid environment.
 

Muffin

New Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
San Jose
A lot of people have tortoises in the wrong climate. All that means is we have to work a little harder to make it right. It can be done, and I think it's great that you saved the poor thing and is doing what it takes to give him a better life.
I think the suggestions given of making a smaller more manageable area for him would work best and make it easier for you to give a more humid environment.
Thanks for the support. Appreciate the constructive feedback.
 

Canadian Mojo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
211
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario
If you're going to keep full yard access (just listen to what people say about escape proofing it) you should find a spot to build yourself a tortoise friendly garden. A pond in the shade, with a couple of low and dark hides, and some low, large leaved plants right next to it, and your RF will be in heaven.

Your RF will very quickly figure out this is the place to set up as his home base and wander from there as he sees fit. More importantly, he'll head back to it and chill out if he feels that it is too hot or dry, rest up, and then go back out into the yard when he gets bored.
 

New Posts

Top