Habitat & Range
Red-footed tortoises are distributed throughout Central and South America. They can be found in both dry grasslands and humid forests. Their preferred environment has a fairly consistent temperature between 68 and 90 degrees. Most of their range experiences cooler wet seasons and warmer dry seasons.
Red-footed tortoises have an average body length of 30 centimeters. As they mature, both sexes develop a unique mid body constriction (sometimes referred to as a waist), which from a top view gives them an hourglass shape. This constriction is much more evident in males. During maturation they also undergo a color change; juveniles have a pale yellow or ivory colored shell, which eventually turns dark brown with pale yellow spots. The scales on the legs and tail can vary from yellow to dark cherry red; males seem to be more brightly colored. They have red-orange scales on all four feet, from which their name is derived.
The bulk of a red-footed tortoise’s diet is made up of tropical fruits and seeds, such as those from cacti, figs and bromeliad. They also consume grasses, leaves, flowers, roots and shoots from a variety of plants.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Red-footed tortoises are most active after the rainy season, which is when mating occurs. Clutches of 5 to 15 eggs are typically laid between July and September. The incubation period varies based on temperature, but averages 100 to 200 days. During courtship and copulation, males are sometimes heard making a clucking sound reminiscent of a hen.
The lifespan of a red-footed tortoise is estimated at 50 to 60 years in captivity.
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