Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Red foot Tortoises
They arrived at my house yesterday morning. The 4 of them came all the way from Brooksville, Florida so you can understand why their feet are red. I mean, walking all that way...
These guys, Red Foot Tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) are natives of southern Central America, and mid to northern South America; although I must point out that the 4 that I just got are all captive bred. Right now they are pretty small, but they promise to grow up a bit, that would be to about 14 inches in length measured from end of carapace to end of carapace (the upper shell) in a straight uncurved line. Of course that means if you want to keep even one of them as an adult, you need to give it space as they are active creatures. A 4'x6' enclosure would be a decent sized one for an adult; free range of a backyard in the warmer months would be even better. Since they come from the tropics, you can bet they like it on the warm side. Temps in the high 70s to mid 80s are appropriate for them, with a basking spot of up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit; and of course the require UVA and UVB light (as found in natural sunlight) so that they can metabolize calcium and other vitamins. They also like it on the humid to wet side, and in nature are often most active after a rain. Babies require a water bowl with fresh water in which they can bathe, and from which they can drink, on a daily basis; and fresh water for adults is also best offered on a daily basis.
Speaking of vitamins, these guys get most of theirs from a fairly varied diet as far as tortoises go. They will, on a daily basis eat leafy greens, fruit, veggies; and on a weekly basis should be given some animal protein. Things like earthworms are relished, but other sources of animal protein such as carrion are taken in the wild. Some believe that in captivity a good idea is to supplement any diet for them with commercial tortoise chows such as that offered by Mazuri. All those vitamins keep these tortoises active all year long; what with the warm climate from which they come they do not brumate (hibernate). They are, as are most tortoises, a fairly long lived pet, and I can assure you that if you purchase one under a year old, it is quite likely that if you are as old as me, the tortoise will outlive you by a long shot. They can live until 50 years of age, and possibly longer with proper captive care.
I am pretty sure I will not be around for another 40 to 50 years, so if I decide to keep these guys for the long term I guess I'll have to get Brendan to like them as much as I already do. That way they will be assured a long and healthy life.
All the best,