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Red-footed Tortoise

Scientific Name Chelonoidis carbonaria

Native To Panama and northern South America (from Colombia to Argentina)

Habitat Wet forests and savanna

Diet Herbivore (primarily): leaves, grass, fungi, fruit and flowers; omnivore (occasionally): ants, termites, beetles, butterflies and worms

Size and Age Males up to 34 cm (13 in) long, and weigh 9 kg (20 lbs); females up to 29 cm (11 in) long; average lifespan over 50 years

Natural History

Red footed tortoises are strangely communal in some of their activities, including sleeping and eating. Not being very fast locomotors, they tend to stay within a set range of forest. When food becomes available, red-footed tortoises will alert other tortoises to the location of that food—by leaving invisible scent trails that can be followed directly to the source. They will also leave these scent trails to places such as burrows or fallen trees, so that they can rest together and take shelter from the heat of the day.


Conservation Status

The red-footed tortoise is vulnerable to the pet trade and habitat destruction, such as deforestation.

Interesting Facts

  • Males and females use head movements to identify each other and communicate.
  • Females lay eggs in nests made of ground debris, which hatch after 150 days.
  • Males will compete for females, which may result in one male flipping another upside-down.