The Red-Footed Tortoise is not a large turtle. It is not small either, being in the middle of the size range for turtles. This said, the Red-Footed Tortoise needs a very large area to live in a healthy manner. A minimum size for a habitat for these creatures should be roughly 2.5 metres by 2.5 metres. The best place to house these turtles is outside. There are several things that need attention though. The humidity should always be between 60% and 85%, and the temperature should never be below 50 degrees F. If any or all of these conditions can not be met, you must house them inside, and simulate the conditions.
When keeping them outdoors, make sure you offer them plenty of protection from the sun. They will also want plenty of tall grass, plant life and a shallow but heavy dish of water. Red-Footed Tortoises are land based turtles, and do not need deep water.
When keeping the tortoises indoors, there is a set of guidelines you must follow. You can use whatever material you see fit, but wood is the most common. Make sure the floor of the enclosure is waterproof, in case any water is knocked over. A wooden floor may cause problems, as the water will seep into the wood, and over time could cause mould problems. If on concrete, never leave the floor bare. This has been noted as a cause of health problems in turtles, the most common being penis prolapse. This said, the bottom, whatever material it is, needs to be covered with a more natural substrate. Much type substrate works well. Peat moss, sphagnum moss and play sand are recommended. A mixture of peat moss and sand is the best substrate. Make sure the sides of the enclosure are tall enough to prevent the turtles from getting out. Like most reptiles, Red-Footed Tortoises require hiding places. They will also need an area that has increased humidity. A large container, on its side, with dampened substrate works well. When needed, the tortoise will crawl inside to get to the humid area.
You must also provide your tortoises with a heat gradient. This can be achieved by placing a basking lamp on one end of the enclosure. The cool side should be kept around 73 degrees F, and the hot end should be kept around 87 degrees F. If you have multiple tortoises you will need to provide multiple basking spots. Drop the temperature at night to be 57 degrees F to 60 degrees F, and like outdoors, never let this temperature drop to or below 50 degrees F.
Aside from the heating lights, full-spectrum fluorescent lighting is necessary for proper synthesis of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is needed to properly use calcium in the tortoise’s body. You should always bring your turtles outside on warm days, as the natural sunlight provides the best vitamins you can get from light.
By Turtles Zone
For turtle care information, head on over to the Turtle Zone. We provide information on caring for turtles in captivity.