Red Foot tortoises make amazing pets thanks to how easy they are to care for, and how outgoing their personalities are. They have a very interesting look and are a mid sized species, making it easier to find space for them.
Tortoises come in different forms, colors and sizes, and they can make amazing pets as long as you have everything they need to live a happy and healthy life. One of the most common, and for me, most interesting tortoise breeds kept as pets is the Red Foot tortoise.
If it’s your first time doing research before you buy a tortoise, you might be overwhelmed at seeing so many breeds available, and you’re probably left wondering which is the best. As you stumble upon Red Foot tortoises, you may be wondering whether they make good pets or not.
Well, I think the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’, and I’m about to go into more detail about why I so this in this article.
What Makes Red Foot Tortoises Good Pets?
Red Foot tortoises are often owned by people who love tortoises. If you’re new to tortoise care and you want to learn as much as possible about these reptiles, here is some information about what makes Red Foot tortoises such amazing pets:
- They Can Eat a Diverse Diet
Probably one of the best things about Red Foot tortoises is the fact they have a diverse diet. This is very beneficial as an owner, especially when you’ve never taken care of tortoises before, and likely wouldn’t do well with breeds that require a more specialist diet.
Red Foot tortoises eat a lot of things in the wild, especially greens. Usually, they consume things such as leafy plants, grasses, fungi, flowers, and fruits. Now and then, they may also eat slow-moving invertebrates like snails and slugs.
The Red Foot tortoise’s diet should mostly consist of greens, and once a week, you can give it animal protein such as a mouse or earthworm.
- They Reach a Medium Size
You’ve probably seen certain tortoise species that are very large indeed, such as Galapagos or Sulcata tortoises. For such breeds, you need a lot of space, so they are more suitable for people living in large houses and have a lot of outdoor space.
Red Foot tortoises are larger than Mediterranean tortoises such as Hermann’s or Greek Spur Thigh tortoises, yet they are smaller than giant tortoises. So, if you want a tortoise that is medium sized as an adult, Red Foot tortoises are the ideal choice.
Red Foots can reach 11-14 inches (28-35cm) when they reach around 10 years old, and for a tortoise of this size you’ll need to build a large outdoor enclosure to allow it to roam as freely as possible.
- They’re Very Outgoing
Not all tortoises run away from you, although many certainly do! Red Foot tortoises are a good example of a breed that is actually rather outgoing and are content to be around humans more so than other breeds.
So if you own a Red Foot tortoise, it is very likely to approach you, especially after you’ve been taking care of it for a long time and it is used to being near you.
It’s always best to allow a recently acquired Red Foot tortoise some time to adjust to their new home before you interact with them too much. They tend to be shy at first, but once they get used to their new environment, you can be sure that they’ll interact with you.
- They’re Very Visually Attractive
For someone like me who is intrigued just to sit and watch my tortoise, what makes Red Foot tortoises great to have around apart from their outgoing personality is their unique visual appearance.
They are very attractive, and that’s mostly due to their coloration. Their shells vary from dark brown to black, and every scute has a lighter center, while the periphery is darker. The middles of the scutes are pale gold, while the edges are dark brown.
The skin of the tortoise is very dark, which only makes the trademark namesake red markings on its body stand out more. The number of red markings varies depending on the location, diet, and genetics. Either way, there isn’t another species of tortoise that has such striking red markings.
- They Don’t Hibernate
Owning a tortoise that hibernates is often very challenging, and stressful. Newer tortoise owners might not know how to deal with this particular aspect of care correctly. You have to make sure the tortoise has a suitable place to hibernate while ensuring you maintain the right temperature during the entire hibernation period.
Luckily, you don’t need to worry about this when it comes to Red Foot tortoises as they do not hibernate. They might simply slow down a bit during the cold season, even if you keep them indoors, but this is to be expected.
- You Can Keep Multiple Red Foot Tortoises Together
Unlike other tortoise species like Testudo (Greeks, Hermann’s, and Marginated tortoises), you can keep 2 or more Red Foot tortoises together. They’re not loners, so if you were thinking of getting them a partner, in theory you shouldn’t have to worry about them getting along, although you should still keep a close eye on them to begin with, just in case there is any conflict.
What Are the Downsides of Owning a Red Foot Tortoise?
Even though they make great pets, owning a Red Foot tortoise still presents a few challenges that you should be aware of before buying one:
- You Still Need a Large Enclosure
Despite not being as massive as giant tortoises, Red Foot tortoises still reach a medium size that requires a spacious enclosure. Just because they don’t take up as much space as bigger species, it doesn’t mean you can or should keep them in a small area.
Their enclosure should give them enough space to move around whenever necessary, and also include everything that keeps the tortoise healthy. Ideally, the enclosure should be at least 40 square feet (3.7 square meters), so not a modest size by any means.
- They Need High Humidity
One thing that’s certainly needed to keep Red Foot tortoises, if not all breeds of tortoise healthy, is humidity. But what makes Red Foots stand out is the fact they need very high humidity, up to 80% . This may be difficult to achieve in non-tropical climates.
However, it’s certainly not impossible. You can maintain high levels of humidity with a well constructed climate-controlled enclosure.
- They Don’t Like Being Handled
Red Foot tortoises are curious and like to interact, there’s no disputing that. However, just because they are more outgoing than other species, it doesn’t mean you should handle them unecessarily. Just like any other tortoise, Red Foots don’t like being handled, so it would be a mistake to think the sociable nature of your pet gives you carte blanche to handle it whenever you wish.
Red Foot tortoises make great pets, both for beginners in tortoise care, and those with experience. However, there are a few potential downsides to consider as well.
None the less, as long as you have the necessary space, you’re able to maintain the right humidity and you can provide a varied diet, you will be successful in keeping your Red Foot tortoise happy.