The Red-Footed Tortoise is native to northern South America, pretty much anywhere that’s not covered completely in water. You could probably guess how they got their name, but they all have the red spotted feet and the brightly colored center in their scutes, while most of them have the yellow and orange spotted heads. They usually reach lengths of about 12 inches, although they have been known to reach 16.
They exhibit many different regional variants in colors and scute formation, but it is all the same species of tortoise. They are omnivorous tortoises, feeding on mostly fruits and plant matter, but occasionally small animals. This species usually lives between 30-50 years, so they do make for popular pets. Unfortunately this has led to overcollection of these tortoises for the exotic pet trade, so the Red-Footed is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Charlie is our Red-Footed Tortoise and he came to WCC along with his best pal Raj in the summer of 2020. Someone’s son bought the two tortoises and was raising them in Florida before having to leave for North Carolina. The Red-Footeds can handle the temperatures up there pretty well, but unfortunately the Indian Stars can’t so he left them with his mom. After a couple of months she decided to find them a permanent home and chose us!
Charlie is about 9 years old and around 12 inches long, so we don’t think he’ll get too much bigger. Part of that is because of his shell shape. Charlie suffers from pyramiding, which is a common problem in captive tortoises. Scientists don’t know the exact causes but they link it to genetics, how and where you raise the animal, and what you give to eat, so any number of factors could be the cause for Charlie. Luckily for him it doesn’t affect their lifespan so he should live a full life!