Red-footed Tortoise


Scientific Name:
Chelonoidis carbonarius

South America from Panama to Argentina. Also the islands of Trinidad and Barbados

Transitional areas between forest and grasslands where temps are fairly consistent and humidity is high

Average Size:
Length: 12-16 inches
Weight: 20 pounds

Lifespan in Captivity:
50+ years

Wild: Grasses, flowers, fungi, sometimes carrion and invertebrates
Zoo: Various produce plus mineral and vitamin supplements

Incubation: 105-200 days, usually around 150 days
Clutch Size: 15 eggs

As hatchlings, Red-footed Tortoises are preyed upon by a variety of predators, including foxes, rats, and similar sized predators. As adults, Jaguars are their primary predator

IUCN Status:
Not Evaluated (NE)

Red-footed Tortoise Range Map

About the Animal:
Red-footed Tortoise are a small tortoise found across South America. Genetic assays have shown that it may be related to the Hinge-back Tortoise of Africa, causing scientists to postulate that the ancestor of both species roamed across the Gondwana continent before South America and Africa separated.

These tortoises spend most of their day at rest. In fact, they may spend 5-10 days resting in the same spot, with leaf litter and even insect trails/burrows going right over them. They like to bed down in unused armadillo or agouti burrows, often sharing these spaces with other Red-footed Tortoises. Because these burrows are difficult to find in the forests, this tortoise will leave scent trails for others to follow.

Mating and Reproduction: 
When a male and female meet, they will use head motion to identify each other. Once mating is completed, the female simply walks off, often with the male is still mounted. Eggs are laid in nests dug into the forest floor.

Amazing Information:
The scientific name for this species, “carbonarius” means “glowing coals”. The name comes from the light patches on the dark shell and the red highlights found on the body.

Where in the Zoo:
You can find the Red-footed Tortoises in the Tropical Rainforest exhibit.