Red Foot tortoises are beautiful and popular pets, with their pretty yellow, orange, or red patches on their legs and tail. But how big does a Red Foot tortoise get? How quickly can they reach their full size, and how much space do they need to live happily and thrive? Here’s everything you’ll need to know about the size and habitat of these gorgeous creatures.
So, how big does a Red Foot tortoise get? Red foot tortoises typically reach 11-14 inches in length and weigh between 20 to 30lb (9-13.5 kgs) when fully grown, at around ten years of age. Males are often larger than females, generally nearing the top of the range. On the other hand, females are usually only around 11.25 inches long and are closer to 20 pounds.
Of course, these are just averages.
You’ll always get some variations.
Not just due to genetics but due to how they are cared for and raised too.
For instance, the largest Red Foot tortoise was over 2 feet long and weighed 60 pounds!
Not what you should expect, but just to be aware of nonetheless.
Let us now take a closer look at the size and growth of this particular species.
So if you do decide to get one, you’ll know exactly what to expect – and at least, prepare for it!
How Long Does It Take For A Red Foot Tortoise To Reach Full Size?
On average, it takes ten years for a Red Foot tortoise to reach its full size. When Red Foots are born, they weigh about 2 ounces and are about 2 inches long. Healthy Red Foot tortoises tend to grow one to two inches per year.
Red Foot tortoises are usually bred in the humid parts of the U.S. (usually in the south), where they can live all year outdoors.
Some of these animals are still imported from Guyana and Suriname or on farms in South America.
In the U.S., no tortoise smaller than 4 inches can be brought into the country.
Therefore, if you’ve purchased a baby tortoise smaller than that size, chances are your friend was born in the U.S.
As with many baby animals and hatchlings, tortoises can grow slightly faster when they are young.
Their growth rate is fastest when they are hatchlings: once they hit five to ten years old, their growth rate slows down.
A ten-year-old tortoise is usually at full size, though some animals do continue to grow slightly bigger.
You can keep track of your tortoise’s growth and weight over time, as this can be useful information for your vet in the future.
Factors That Can Influence Growth Rate And Full Size
There are several factors that could have an impact on the growth rate and full size of your Red Foot tortoise.
Eating The Right Food
For a healthy Red Foot, you want to provide the correct diet.
This species eats mostly plants, grasses, fungi, some fruits, and flowers in the wild.
From time to time, they may snack on slugs, snails, and other invertebrates (the ones that move slowly, of course!)
To ensure a balanced diet for your friend, make sure you provide roughly 60% greens, 30% fruits, and 10% vegetables.
Red Foot tortoises mostly eat greens daily as they are primarily herbivores.
The amount of greens they need is roughly equal to their body size.
The best greens for Red Foot tortoises are dandelion greens (not too many, though, as they are a diuretic), collard greens, mulberry greens, clover, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves, turnip greens, kale, cabbage, and flowers.
Don’t use iceberg lettuce, as it’s high in water content but has no nutritional value.
Fruits that your tort will love are papayas, mangos, bananas, plums, pineapples, pears, and apples.
Provide a variety in small amounts to ensure a range of phytonutrients (the nutrients in different colored fruits.)
The best vegetables for your Red Foot tortoise are carrots, pumpkin, and squash.
Tortoises don’t really need any supplementation apart from once a week: simply sprinkle a bit of calcium powder on top of their greens.
You could also consider having a supply of Mazuri tortoise diet, which you can see here for reference on Amazon, which your pet will enjoy.
Keep some of this handy in case you can’t get fresh greens one day.
A Mazuri tortoise diet provides a balance of nutrients and is a good once-a-week food.
All foods for your tortoise, whether greens, vegetables, or fruits, should be organic wherever possible.
You don’t want your friend eating pesticides!
This particular breed of tortoise needs some animal protein once a week, about one ounce each time.
Here are some ideas for animal protein for your pet:
- Boiled chicken
- Slugs or snails
- Cat food (lean)
Your tortoise buddy will tend to eat a heavy meal and then rest for long periods, so feed your friend each day at the same time in the morning.
If your tortoise has left behind food when heading off for a snooze, remove it to prevent obesity.
Getting Enough Water
Tortoises might not look like they need much water due to the dry appearance of their skin, but they can get dehydrated just like any other animal.
Dehydration can lead to all kinds of health problems, so be sure to provide a deep dish full of fresh water each day.
Make sure the water dish is big enough for your friend to climb in and have a soak.
Tortoises don’t drink like other animals – they submerge their faces in the water and slurp it up that way.
They also absorb some moisture from their bodies as they soak.
A word of warning: tortoises will often defecate in their baths while they’re drinking!
Keep an eye on the water when your friend is having a soak, and if you see any feces, change the water immediately.
The only supplement they need is a calcium powder sprinkled on their greens once or twice a week.
How Much Space Does A Red Foot Tortoise Need?
A Red Foot tortoise will need a lot of room: the very smallest you can get away with would be 6 feet by 6 feet. But you’ll want to change things regularly to keep your tortoise engaged if the enclosure is that small. These animals need lots of stimulation and enrichment!
For tortoises, the bigger the enclosure, the better, as they’re used to covering large spaces in the wild.
Be sure to provide a large and varied environment so that your tort has room to graze and explore, whether the enclosure is indoors or outdoors.
Red Foot tortoises are sociable animals with curious and outgoing personalities.
They are happiest when raised in pairs or small groups, so get your pet some friends if you haven’t done so already.
You’ll also want to be prepared to look after your friend for a long time.
Red Foot tortoises can live from 50 to as long as 90 years, so be ready for a very long-term commitment!
One way you can keep your tortoise happy is by planting the appropriate greens (a mixture) throughout the enclosure so that your pet can forage.
Tortoises love digging and burrowing.
Although Red Foot tortoises won’t dig or burrow as much as other species of tortoise, they will still appreciate a layer of substrate that’s several inches deep.
Good materials for the substrate are wood chips or loose soil.
Tips For Indoor Enclosures
Although Red Foot tortoises do best outdoors, you can provide a good environment for them inside, as long as you’re prepared to get the right equipment.
The best kind of indoor housing is a ‘tortoise table,’ which you can make yourself or purchase.
You can also use a plastic sweaterbox.
Be sure to fill it with substrate: good indoor material for the substrate is cypress mulch.
Cypress mulch is safe, absorbent, and inexpensive.
Otherwise, you can use peat moss or coconut coir.
Include some lighting, cage furniture, branches, and large, flat rocks.
These rocks can help tortoises’ nails (they file them naturally) and provide a clean surface for their food.
Keep the humidity levels moderate, as these animals are used to a humid microclimate.
Babies, in particular, need a humid area to hide in, replicating a natural burrow for them.
A hydrated microclimate will help their shells grow smoothly and help prevent dehydration and ensure good health.
In terms of temperature, Red Foot tortoises can thrive at room temperatures of 68 to 80 degrees.
Give them a basking area with a UVB light so that they can process the calcium they’re getting from their food.
Their basking area should have a temperature closer to 90 degrees.
Put the light on a timer for 12 hours a day to mimic night and day patterns.
If you wish, you can include a heat source under or over their hide box section (such as small heat pads or similar.)
As adults, your Red Foot tortoises can handle temperatures as low as 45 degrees at night time (provided the following day’s temperature reaches at least 70 degrees).
They can handle temperatures up to 100 degrees in the summer, as long as they have cooler, shady spots that they can escape to.
In warmer temperatures, you can provide a mudhole for your friends to cool down during a hot day.
In winter, though, make sure your tortoises are kept nice and dry.
No matter what kind of enclosure you use, though, make sure to have walls that are not transparent.
Tortoises are curious animals, and if they see there’s something on the other side of the wall or tank, they will want to get out and investigate!
Still, they are still much smaller than the giant species, such as is the case with Sulcutas.
So as a species, they are somewhat practical to take care of and raise.
But just consider that these tortoises grow slowly!
You need to remember that the tort you bring home will keep growing for up to ten years in your care.
So plan ahead, maximize the space you can offer, and this should go a long way to meeting their spatial needs.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.