Red Foot Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria)
Experience Level: Intermediate
Did you know? Red Foot Tortoises get their name from the red/orange colored scales on their front legs and heads. They are one of the most colorful tortoises and considered one of the more personable and curious tortoises available.
Step 1Choosing a Terrarium
Red Foot Tortoises originate from South America. Multiple tortoises of same type can be housed
together (same-sex pairs recommended).
(A) Use a well-ventilated, 55-gallon (36" long) or larger terrarium for a small tortoise although
a larger enclosure will be required for adult tortoises.
(B) Screened lid, if not included with habitat.
Step 2Heating and Lighting
Red Foot Tortoises require a temperature gradient (cool side/warm side) to appropriately regulate their body temperature. Temperatures within the habitat should also vary between daytime and nighttime hours.
• Equip the habitat with two (C) thermometers (one on each side of habitat) and one (D) hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels.
• Heat is provided by a (E) high-wattage heat bulb placed directly above the basking spot and should be the warmest point in the habitat during the day. Turn the basking light off during the evening.
• Use a ceramic heat emitter or night heat lamp as needed to maintain nighttime temperatures.
|Day - Cool Side||80-90o F (27-32o C)|
|Day - Basking Spot||95-100o F (35-38o C)|
|Night||70-80o F (18-27o C)|
• Red Foot Tortoises are diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day. Use a daytime (F) UVA/UVB (ultraviolet) fluorescent bulb for approximately 12 hours per day.
• To view your tortoise at night, use a night-specific bulb to minimize your pet’s visible light.
Step 3Substrate and Decor
(G) Use a 2-3" (5-8 cm) layer of coconut fiber or cypress bark bedding to help retain humidity.
• Clean out waste weekly and completely change bedding at least once a month.
(H) Add a large hiding place in the cool area of the home.
(I) Provide a shallow water dish, large enough for your tortoise to fully soak in and to help retain humidity within the habitat.
• Ensure decor is large and stable enough for the size of your tortoise.
• Provide plants (artificial or live) throughout the habitat for additional hiding areas.
New surroundings and environments can be stressful for pets. Prior to handling your turtle, give him 3-4 days to adjust to his new surroundings while monitoring his behavior for any signs of stress or illness. Shortly after purchase, ask a veterinarian familiar with reptiles to examine your turtle
Things to Watch For
• Runny droppings for more than two days
• Eating or drinking less; weight loss
• Swollen joints
• Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
• Shell problems; discolored shells
• More time spent hiding in their shell
If you notice any of the above signs, speak with a PetSmart store associate or reptile veterinarian with questions about the health of your pet.
Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets.
The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.
• Specific standards for in-store pet care.
• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.