RED FOOTED TORTOISE
Testudines (turtles and tortoises)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Red-footed tortoises can commonly be found in dry grasslands as well as humid forests. They are distributed throughout southern Central America, and central South America.
Red-footed tortoises are medium sized species; males are 30 cm long while females are 28 cm long. 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 like appearance. This constriction is much more evident in males. During maturation they also undergo a color change; juveniles have a pale yellow or ivory colored carapace which eventually turns dark brown with thin pale yellow rings around each scute. The scales on the legs and tail can vary from yellow to dark cherry red; males seem to be more brightly colored. They get their name from red and orange scales on their front and back feet.
Like all other tortoises, red-footed tortoises are herbivores but it is suspected that they might occasionally feed on carrion.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Red-foots are most active after the rainy season when mating occurs. Mating takes place from July to September. Clutches can vary from 5-15 eggs and incubation lasts from 100-200 days depending on average ambient temperature and latitude. Male red-foots battle over females by ramming each other in attempts to roll each other over. During courtship and copulation, males make a clucking sound that is very reminiscent of a hen. The plastron of a male is concave allowing him to mount the female. Lifespan is 50-60 years.
Red-foots are endangered mostly due to hunting and habitat loss. Catholics consider tortoises to be fish and they are consumed by the hundreds when red meat is sinful to eat. Since they live in warm climates, red-footed tortoises do not hibernate.