Redfoot care sheet (sticky?)

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Redfoot NERD

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Dec 5, 2007
Location (City and/or State)
Thanks Z - let's hope the new wave of 'keepers' will follow it.. because as you know.. most in the recent past have listened to the wrong ones. But then look at what they've had to choose from.. huh? Thanks again.. @jsheffield


New Member
Nov 12, 2021
Location (City and/or State)
Hi all! I've noticed many times that although we have excellent care sheets for e.g. Russians and Sulcata's, there is no care sheet for redfoots. I think this would be very useful for new keepers. When I bought my redfoot I collected a lot of information. I translated this into English (see below), would you think this would be a useful care sheet? If you have any suggestions, please add them. As I'm not a native speaker, suggestions on language are also welcome :) And maybe we can make a sticky thread with a good care sheet?

Red footed tortoise - Chelonoidis carbonaria


Redfoots are originally from South-America, were they live in the tropical forests. Average adult size is 12-14” (30-35 cm). Cherry heads are a very colorful type of redfoot that generally stay smaller.

Redfoots can be housed outside (in the appropriate climate) or inside. Regardless of what type of housing you choose, they need the following things:

Space to move around. Minimum space is around 4x shell length x 8x shell length, so for an average adult this would be at least 4 x 8 ft (120x240 cm).

Heat: redfoots need a constant temperature of 80F (27C) around their enclosure. Night temperature may be a little lower, but never lower than 70F (21C). Although most redfoot keepers say their redfoot doesn’t bask, it cannot hurt it there’s a warmer spot of around 88F (31F) where your tort can warm up.
The best way to maintain a constant temperature is to use ceramic heat emitters coupled with a thermostate. You need a digital thermometer or a temperature gun to measure temperature at tort level.

Humidity: redfoots need around 80% humidity, especially when they are young and still growing. High humidity will prevent pyramiding. You will need a hygrometer to measure humidity.
They easiest way to maintain a high humidity indoors is to use a fully enclosed enclosure and a substrate that holds humidity such as coco coir or spaghnum moss. Make sure the substrate is humid, but feels dry on the top (to prevent shell rot). You can accomplish this by pouring water in the corners and mixing the substrate with your hand. Then let the top layer dry. Regularly pour some new water in the corners of your enclosure.
Some keepers use a misting system to keep up humidity. With a closed enclosure often this is not necessary.
Is your redfoot housed outside in a lower humidity environment? Then at least provide humid hides, with e.g. moss in them.
Many keepers also soak their redfoots. For this you put you tort in a shallow layer (up until half of his shell) of warm water (around 85F / 30C) for around 20 minutes. For young redfoots it’s recommended to do this every 2 days.

UVB light: tortoises need UVB light to synthesize vitamin D3. This vitamin is needed for proper calcium uptake and utilisation. For redfoots housed outside, the sun will provide the needed UVB. Is your redfoot housed inside, you need a UVB light. Glass and mesh will filter out UVB! UVB can be provided with a tube UVB light, or an mercury vapor bulb (MVB). The tube will provide UVB and light, while the MVB will also provide heat and is brighter. Most redfoot keepers use the tube UVB light. Do not use a coiled type UVB light, because they could hurt your torts eyes.

Hides and cover: especially young redfoots like shade and covered areas. Provide multiple hides, (fake or real) plants, etc. to make the animal feel safe.

Safety: always protect your tortoise from dangers such as predators and escaping. Never let your tort roam your house, many accidents can happen (no matter how careful you are) and the temperature on the floor is too cold for your tortoise.

Feed and water
Redfoots need constant access to fresh water. It’s best to use a terracotta plant saucer sunken into the substrate. Choose a saucer that’s big enough for your tortoise to fit inside, they like to sit in water.
Feed your redfoot from a hard surface, such as a tile or a terracotta plant saucer. Redfoots are omnivorous and need a varied diet:
  • Greens (a pile around the size of his shell). You can use weeds from your garden (make sure no pesticides are used), grow your own food, and use store bought greens. Variety is key!
  • Fruits (around the size of his head). You can give many (tropical) fruits. Tomato, bell pepper and pumpkin are also considered fruits.
  • Animal protein (around once a week). You can feed chicken, fish, shrimp, egg or soaked cat food. Redfoots also love mushrooms!
For more info on suitable tortoise foods, check the Tortoise Table:
Most people feed their redfoot every morning. Old food is removed in the evening and fresh food is provided the following morning.
Also provide a calcium supplement to your tortoise. You can use a powdered supplement (gently sprinkle the food twice a week), or give your tortoise a cuttle bone to chew on. Not all torts like this however.

With the proper care, hopefully your redfoot will stay healthy. Possible health disorders are:
Shell rot: this is caused by a substrate that is too wet. Can be treated with antibiotic or antifungal cream.
Pyramiding: caused by the humidity being too low. Mild pyramiding doesn’t cause problems most times, but do raise the humidity in the enclosure.
Airway (respiratory) infections: often caused by the temperature being too low, a low disease resistance and/or suboptimal hygiene. Go to a vet if your torts shows signs or a respiratory infection!

Links with more information (outside this forum)
On diet:
On care: and
Thank you for this, I truly appreciate your efforts
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