Animal Information

What Is The Difference Between Red-Footed and Yellow-Footed Tortoises

Red-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis [Geochelone] carbonaria) and Yellow-footed tortoises (Chelonoidis [Geochelone] denticulata) are often mistaken as each other.

The Yellow-Footed Tortoises has large scales on its nosterils.

The Red-Foot Tortoises has smaller fragmented scales on its nostrils.

Yellow-footed tortoises are native to southern Colombia (absent from the north), Venezuela, Island of Trinidad, Guyana (formerly British Guiana), Surinam, French Guiana, Peru, and Brazil, being absent from Paraguay.

Red-footed tortoises have much the same range but include Colombia, only the western portion of Peru and are found in Paraguay. There is very little information on the actual habitat of these two species.

They both range over much of the same area of shaded forests. Carbonaria seems to prefer the damper habitat, being found in wet, muddy dens in the wild, showing a tendency to drink and soak more in captivity than denticulata. Neither appears to bask in full sunlight

How Do They Look Different?

In yellow-footed tortoises, the gular is even with the posterior portion of the carapace.

In red-foots, the gular is shorter than the carapace. In the red-footed tortoise, the gulars extend back along the midline while the yellow-footed tortoise’s gular scute is longitudinally divided in the dorsal aspect, giving from the above view the appearance of four gulars.

The yellow-foots humeral scute is longer than the femoral scute. In the red-footed tortoise, the femoral scute is usually longer than the humeral scute. The yellow-foots inguinal scute is small. Red-footed tortoises have a short prefrontal nose scale and usually a large intact frontal scale.

Yellow-footed tortoises have an elongated prefrontal scale and a fragmented frontal scale.

Geochelone denticulataGeochelone carbonaria
*Gular shield even with a posterior portion of carapace*Gular shield short of a posterior portion of carapace
Humeral median suture usually longer than femoral median sutureFemoral median suture usually longer than humeral median suture
*Inguinal quite inconspicuous*Inguinal quite conspicuous
Prefrontals elongatedPrefrontals small and broken up
*First marginals denticulated in young*First marginals not denticulated in young
Very little if any concentric grooving of scutesConcentric grooving quite predominant

Furthermore, Yellow-footed tortoise females get larger in comparison than males. In red-footed tortoises, the males get larger.

This is a female Red-foot Tortoise and a male Yellow-foot Crazy Critters Inc.

Yellow-footed tortoises are not quite as hardy as red-footed tortoises. They need added shade, water, and more stable temperatures than red-footed tortoises.

The yellow-foot tortoise does not hibernate! Temperatures in the rain forest do not change dramatically. Temperatures should not exceed 90 degrees in the daytime without ample shaded areas. The nighttime temperatures should not fall below 65 degrees.

Can They Crossbreed?

These tortoises are different fom each other. However, it is rumored that some have successfully hatched crossbred tortoises. Groups often mate, producing offspring with widely differing shapes and color. Click here to view these offspring on the website for Turtle Source.

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Crazy Critters Inc. is a Private Non-Profit, 501(c)3, Exotic Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. Our Wildlife Facility is located in Eustis, Florida. We provide permanent homes to over 200 animals including lizards, turtles, skinks, geckos, birds, and assorted wildlife. Crazy Critters Inc. was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home.

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