On top of keeping a moderate humidity level in the enclosure, all baby red-footed tortoises raised indoors should have access to a humid hiding area where they can snuggle in and get a dose of humidity, much like they would in a natural burrow.
This more humid microclimate helps their shells to grow smoothly and helps in keeping the tortoise hydrated. Tortoises raised without proper humidity tend to dehydrate quickly and form “bumpy” shells as they grow.
Many different substrates can be used for indoor red-footed tortoise enclosures. For all sizes of tortoise, cypress mulch has proven to be a great bedding. It’s absorbent, safe and relatively low cost.
Other good options include coconut coir or peat moss. Outdoor enclosures don’t need fancy substrates, provided that the soil is natural and not tainted with any chemicals or fertilizers. We also include a few large, flat rocks in the enclosure. They help file down the tortoises’ nails and give them a clean surface for food.
The needs of redfoot hatchlings and juveniles are in a similar fashion to that of adults. However, they are much more sensitive to drafts and dehydration. Breeders often keep them on dry substrates and feed improperly which leads to pyramiding at an early age.
Lighting is very important for normal growth and behavior. Some of the better lightings are the new ZooMed Powersun bulbs.
These are used extensively in zoos. The 100-watt flood is the most commonly used. While they do put out heat you may need to add a ceramic heat emitter to get the right temperature.
The temperature of an indoor enclosure should be kept between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 85 is optimal, slightly lower at nighttime is okay). A UVB lamp is important for your overall Redfoot Tortoise care for their long-term health because it simulates natural light.
You should also provide a heat lamp that creates a warmer area (85 to 90 degrees) where your redfoot tortoise can bask.
An outdoor pen is actually better from a Redfoot Tortoise care perspective as long as your climate is humid and the temperature doesn’t go below 60 or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Babies should be brought inside if the temperature falls below 70. Adults can handle temperatures down to 60 degrees, but they must be brought inside whenever it gets cooler.
The foundation for a healthy redfoot tortoise hatchling diet is high calcium greens, weeds, and flowers. We keep cuttlebone with them at all times. Many feel that low-fat cat food is an important source of “animal” protein or use commercial products such as Mazuri tortoise chow.
We trust our vet and they feel its better to offer them a diet that is similar to what they find in nature. Since the juveniles and adults kept in outdoor pens readily eat insects such as sowbugs, worms, slugs etc, it makes sense to provide the babies with the same variety.
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