General Care

This is a medium size species. Adults are 12-18", though tortoises over 14" are rare. With proper care they should out live their owners. 

Check Ups

When you get your tortoise, it is highly recommended that you take your pet for a check up. Many Redfoots are wild caught or farm raised. And while yours may appear to be healthy the stress of being brought home and placed in strange surrounding may cause a hidden problem to surface. This is true even with long term wild caught and captive born animals. Make sure the Vet measures and weighs your tort. Also request a fecal to check for parasites.


Redfoot Tortoises are opportunistic grazers and enjoy broad leaf plants. However they also eat overripe fruit and carrion, insects etc. The best diet is one that contains a wide variety of weeds (leaves and flowers), greens, vegetables and fruit.

A good starting point:

  • greens : turnip greens, collards, kale, red & green leaf lettuce, endive, escarole, chicory, dandelion etc.

  • fruit: papaya, mangoes, apples, melons, cactus fruit etc

  • vegetables: all squash, carrots, occasionally green beans

  • animal matter: once a month or so feed a source of animal protein. I feed pinkie mice/rats, shrimp, chicken etc.

 For detailed diet information: Redfoot Tortoise Diet for a list of edible plants:


Redfoot tortoises should have water available at all times. The dish should be large enough for them to soak in. Outdoors they enjoy a small wading pool. I use a cement mixing tray. They also love to wallow in mud.



For hatchlings I use small cement mixing trays...Rubbermaid storage containers work well also.. Up until they are about 6 months old, I use only long stem sphagnum moss as a substrate. Hatchlings are very prone to dehydration and moss holds the moisture very well. As they get older I start adding topsoil and coconut coir to the mix.

I suspend a basking light over one end of the container. I prefer to use a 100 watt T-Rex UVHeat flood light. I raise or lower it to get the temps in the low 90's in the basking area, The cooler end should be in the mid to upper 70's. Night temps can drop to 70°F. If it gets lower I use a small heat matt on a thermostat. I place it so the it is under 1/3 of the container at the basking end. This give a temperature gradient which allows them to choose a comfort level

For juveniles and adults, a tortoise table is the best option. Good plans can be found at Tortoise Table  by Vickie Hale . Since they do get rather large, the bigger you can make this the better.


As they get larger, outdoor pens during the warm months are the best choice. Again these should be as large as possible. Humidity is important so if you live in a dry climate, additional moisture will be needed in the form a sprinklers and misters.

There should be a heavily planted area to provide cover and additional humidity. I also use a large deck box with a hole cut out in the side as a retreat. Its fitted with a ceramic heat emitters on a thermostat to provide heat on cool nights. I also have a large computer type fan to provide extra air circulation and cooling. I put a few inches of cypress mulch *I wet it down frequently)in there for extra moisture.


Some great pen and cage ideas can be seen at