REDFOOT TORTOISE CARE SHEET
Redfoot need a humid environment.
You can run a steam humidifier in the tort room to achieve the high humidity
they thrive in. Moistening the substrate under the basking lamp also
helps raise the humidity in the enclosure. (see Hatchling Enclosure below)
Providing hiding spots with hide logs or a pile of hay will make your
Redfoot feel secure.
An aquarium or fish tank is the
worst enclosure you can provide a tortoise. The enclosure needs to be
roomy with ambient temps of 75-80 degrees and a basking area of 90 degrees.
The basking lamp should be a high quality mercury vapor UVB lamp such as the
T-Rex Active UVB/Heat. The best prices are found on the Internet and I
http://carolinapetsupply.com. The fixture should be a 10” metal
dome fixture with a ceramic socket. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s
carry these fixtures for a lot less than found in pet stores.
The best substrate is Cypress Mulch (do not use any other kind of mulch) or a 50/50 mix of coconut coir (Bed a Beast and Eco Earth are two brands) and Play Sand (found at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Toys R Us). Plain bag Topsoil (with no additives) works well also. Sphagnum moss is also a good substrate choice. These products hold moisture well and offer good footing and digging for the tort. Do not allow the substrate to become bone dry as it will cause irritation to the nose and eyes of the Redfoot.
DO NOT use pellets, walnut
shells, cat litter, corn cob, or anything else. The risk of impaction
is high with these products.
A large cement mixing tub, a
Rubbermaid Holiday tree tote, an under the bed storage bin, or gift wrap
tote make excellent indoor enclosures for hatchlings. You want the
enclosure to have a lot of floor space and low walls so that the tort has
room to roam around and the enclosure has good air flow. If you
tilt the pen so that the BASKING end is 1” to 2” lower than the cool end,
you will be able to pour warm water into the pen, creating a very wet
(boggy) area in the low/warm end, without soaking the entire pen. This
will help to increase the humidity within the pen as the water evaporates
under the basking lamp. Just remember that it is the WARM/BASKING end
of the pen that can be kept wet, NOT the cool end of the pen. A shallow
dish of fresh water should be available at all times.
A Turtle table is the best indoor
enclosure. Plans on how to build a turtle table can be found by doing an
Internet search or looking at the “Tortoise Table” page on this site.
Build it as large as possible. Redfoot can reach 12”-14” in length
(Cherry Heads are usually smaller) as adults and need plenty of space.
Fresh water should be available at all times. A plant pot dish works
great and needs to be large enough for the tortoise to soak itself in.
The outdoor pen should be located in an area that is part sun/part shade. Fresh water in a dish large enough for the Redfoot to soak in should be provided. There should also be a weatherproof hide house so that the tortoise has a dry place to retreat in case of wet weather.
Adult Redfoot can stay outdoors 24/7 as long as the night time temps are 60 degrees or above. Baby Redfoot should be brought indoors at night unless the night temps are 70 degrees or above. Baby tortoises have less body mass and cool off faster than adults.
The outdoor pen needs to be secure so that the Tortoise cannot escape and predators cannot get to the tortoise and kill it. Raccoons, dogs, and cats can break in and kill your tortoise in a matter of minutes. Even the best behaved family pet will go after a tortoise; it’s just instinct.
Make sure that the pen is strong and has a well constructed, framed hardware cloth or chain link lid that can be secured with a latch.
http://redfoottortoise.com has a very good list of edible plants that can be planted in an outdoor pen.