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Red-footed Tortoise

Chelonoidis carbonarius

Red-footed tortoises are medium sized tortoises, growing to around 30- 50cm in length, with males being larger than females They can be recognised by their dark shell, with yellow markings. They also have red scales on their legs – hence their name!



Size: 25.4 - 35.6cm
Weight: 9kg



Red-footed tortoises are found in South America, living in various habitats from savannahs to humid forests. They have also been introduced to a number of islands in the Caribbean. Chelonoidis carbonaria can be found in rainforests, dry thorny forests, temperate forests, and in savanna areas.



In the wild these tortoises feed mainly on fruit during the wet season, and on flowers during the dry season. They also consume soil, sand, fungi and even carrion (dead meat)! As they eat a high protein diet compared to many tortoises, they need constant access to fresh water.



Females normally lay around 3 clutches of around 2 to 15 eggs, which are laid in a hollow, dug by the females. They take around 4 to 6 months to hatch and hatchlings are around 4cm long. The young begin eating at around 5 days old and are mature at around 7 to 8 years old. The parents do not provide any care to the young, which dig themselves out of the nest and are immediately independent. In order to ensure successful egg production, female tortoises store substantial energy in the form of fat and sequester minerals in their bones for the formation of the egg-shell. During egg development, they feed on a nutrient-rich diet in order to maintain mineral deposits. The red-footed tortoise is polygynous (having more than one mate), and males produce sounds and calls associated with distinct throat motions that are meant to attract potential mates and ward off competitors. Calls consist of a series of “clucks”, similar to those produced by chickens. Males compete for mates, and typically move their heads in a bobbing motion prior to wrestling. He who flips his competitor on his back gains access to the female and an opportunity to mate.



These tortoises have not been evaluated by the IUCN (international Union for the Conservation of Nature), however they are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates international trade in this species in order to protect wild numbers. Hunting may be a threat in certain parts of its range.

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