Red & Yellow-Footed Tortoises

Raf is our yellow-footed tortoise. He was surrendered to us about a year ago and is just the most curious and friendly tortoise you will ever meet. He spends winters inside and we sure do miss him when he is out for the summer.

Spot is an absolutely perfect red-footed tortoise. He came in recently and is at least 20 years old, along with his brother, Rex. These tortoises were entrusted to us by a friend when she had to move to a home with no yard.

Rex is Spot's brother and he is also a 20 year old red foot. The two of them are loving their new summer home and we hope they will get along with the entire gang when brought inside for the winter.

Common Name: Red-footed tortoise
Scientific Name: Chelonoidis carbonaria

Type: Land Tortoise
Diet:  Herbivore
Average Life Span: 50 years
Size: 13 inches, up to 20 lbs
IUCN Red List Status: Not Evaluated
Current Population Trend: Unknown
Common Name: Yellow-footed tortoise
Scientific Name: Chelonoidis denticulata
Type: Land Tortoise
Diet:  Mostly Herbivore
Average Life Span: 50 years
Size: 15 to 30 inches, up to 35 lbs
IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
Current Population Trend: Unspecified
About the Red and Yellow-footed Tortoises

Red-footed tortoises have a concave, bumpy shell. Their skin is mostly black with shells being typically black, gray or brown. Young tortoises have small distinct areas of yellow or tan coloring surrounding or covering each bump. Bright red marks may appear on the head. The legs and tail often have patches of orange, yellow or red.

Yellow-footed tortoises are the largest tortoises on the mainland of South America. They're named for the yellow-orange scales on their front legs. Both males and females have a thick, heavy shell, but a female's shell is more domed than the male's, and the plastron is concave in males. These tortoises have dark brown scales with patches of yellow. Their limbs and head are brown with some orange scales and markings. Tortoises have heavy claws for digging and their strong shells protect them from predators.

Native Habitat

Red-footed tortoises live throughout South America from Panama to Argentina. They are also found on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Barbados. They live in dry and wet forests areas, grasslands and the savanna. Yellow-footed tortoises live in the dense rainforests and tropical lowlands of South America, particularly in Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, the Guianas, Rio de Janeiro, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. They are also found in Trinidad and Tobago and have been introduced to several Caribbean Islands.


Males and females use head movements as signals to identify each other.

Food/Eating Habits

Red-footed tortoises are primarily herbivorous but will also eat small amounts of animal matter, such as small invertebrates. Most of their food comes from leaves, grasses, fungi, fruits and flowers. Yellow-footed tortoises are also primarily herbivorous but have been known to eat grasses, leaves, fallen fruits, succulents, insects, snails, and carrion.

Source: Smithsonian National Zoo and Zoo New England