Red-Footed Tortoise

Red-Footed Tortoise    Chelonoidis carbonaria

Type of Animal:

Open forest, savanna, forest edge, tropical forest, wood edges, waterways, forest clearings, grassland

Ranges from SE Panama to extreme N Argentina, east of Andes. Also found on some Caribbean islands in Trinidad, Tobago, Puerto Rico, Netherlands Antilles, St. Lucia, St, Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, Guadalupe, Dominica, Martinique, Leeward Islands, & Virgin Islands.

NE variant light orange to red head/limbs, plastron (bottom shell) pale yellow, black carapace (upper shell). NW variant has grey/dark brown/coffee carapace, pale yellow plastron w/ central dark areas resembling exclamation points, pale yellow to orange head/limbs. N variant pale yellow to light orange, occasionally red heads/limbs w/ similar carapace/plastron to NE variant. S variant carapace mix of almost black/dark brown w/ light grey/whitish between scutes, dark plastrons in symmetrical mottled pattern, largest variant. E variant dark plastron in symmetrical mottled pattern, heads/limbs yellowish or red, carapace light grey/whitish between scutes. Males have long muscular tail, females have short conical tail, red markings around heads/limbs, young have rounder/flatter carapaces start off pale yellow to brown, males more colorful, males have deeply indented plastron, loaf-shaped carapace in adults.

Leaves, greens, fruit, legumes, seed pods, vegetables, berries, cactus pads, flowers, weeds, bromeliads, poop, fungi, soil, moss, roots, shoots, eggs, carrion, rodents, insects, slugs, worms, insect larvae, shrimp, snails, small snakes

Status in Wild:

Breeding from zoos, private breeders, aquariums, wildlife parks, & breeding centers.

Found in herds of up to 14 individuals, led by dominant male.

Additional Info:


Male-20 lbs
Female-15 lbs
Young-1 lb

4 months 

Life Span:
50-60 years

Body Length:
Male-13.5 in
Female-11.25 in
Young-3.5 in

Tail Length:
Male-3.5 in
Female-1.5 in

Main predators of adults are felids, anacondas, crocodilians, harpy eagles, dogs, & foxes. Monkeys, lizards, raptors, mongooses, opossums, coatis, rats, snakes, large turtles, curassows, guans, rails, peccaries, & skunks eat young.

Threatened due to pet trade, habitat loss, hunting for meat, & egg collection.

Sexually mature at 5 years old.

Fun Fact(s):
Known in Brazil as Jabuti & in Venezuela as Morrocoy.

Captive-bred individuals can make great pets.

Males cluck like chickens during courtship & mating.

Considered fish by Catholic Church & consumed in huge numbers during holy week.

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