Kurtle the redfoot tortoise

Redfoot Tortoise Care

Selecting a red-footed tortoise as a pet can be an excellent choice for many reptile enthusiasts. Unlike many other pets, these tortoises are relatively low-maintenance, though they do require specific conditions for optimal health and well-being. Creating a bioactive setup can contribute to the overall health and well-being of your pet, providing a natural and stimulating environment that promotes good health. The addition of isopods, a group of invertebrates that can assist with maintaining the vivarium, can further enhance the bioactive setup.


This article will guide you through the essential care instructions to keep your red-footed tortoise happy and healthy in a bioactive enclosure. We will also explore the use of isopods, providing readers with the information necessary to make an informed decision.


Red-Footed Tortoise Care


Red-footed tortoises are a species of tortoise that inhabit the tropical rainforests, savannas, and mangrove swamps of South America. They are large, gentle creatures that generally grow to 10-16 inches (25-40 centimetres) in length and can live up to 50 years in captivity. To keep your tortoise in good health, you must provide them with an appropriate enclosure, diet, and environment.




When it comes to an enclosure for a red-footed tortoise, it is essential to consider the size, temperature, lighting, and substrate. Ideally, tortoises require a space that allows them to move around freely and engage in natural behaviours such as exploring, foraging, and basking.


The minimum recommended size for a red-footed tortoise enclosure is 4 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet (120 centimetres by 60 centimetres by 60 centimetres) for an adult. The enclosure should contain a shallow water dish for drinking and soaking, a hide box for privacy, and basking spots at different temperatures. The basking area should have a temperature range of 85-95°F (29-35°C), while the rest of the enclosure should be between 75-85°F (24-29°C). You must provide enough space to accommodate multiple basking areas, so your tortoise can regulate their body temperature.




Red-footed tortoises require specific lighting to maintain good health. They need both UVA and UVB to process calcium for healthy bone growth and metabolism. This can be achieved by providing the tortoise with access to unfiltered sunlight or using specialized lighting designed for reptiles.


The best lighting option is a full-spectrum bulb that produces both UVA and UVB. This lighting should be on for 10 to 12 hours a day and be replaced every six months.




Choosing the right substrate for your red-footed tortoise is crucial as it can impact their health. The tortoise requires a substrate that is not too fine and offers suitable drainage for healthy humidity levels. Coco coir, a substrate made from coconut husks, is an excellent option as it has good drainage and holds humidity well, promoting good shell and skin health.




A red-footed tortoise's diet comprises a combination of fresh vegetables and fruits, which should make up 70% of their diet. The other 30% of their diet should consist of good quality, low-fat protein sources such as raw and cooked chicken, rabbit, or fish. Tortoise pellets can be used as a supplement but should not make up a large proportion of their diet.


When feeding your tortoise, offer a variety of foods, including dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, and spinach. Fruits, including berries, melons, and dark-coloured fruits such as papaya and mango, are also suitable. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables before feeding to remove pesticides and contaminants.




Your red-footed tortoise requires a shallow water dish in their enclosure for drinking and soaking. The water should be changed daily to prevent bacteria growth and should be no deeper than the tortoise's chin. Soaking provides hydration and helps maintain healthy skin and shell condition.


Bioactive Setup


A bioactive enclosure is an enclosure that includes living organisms, which help to create a natural, self-sustaining environment. In a bioactive enclosure for a red-footed tortoise, the substrate should support vegetation growth and include elements that encourage natural behaviour and provide enrichment. The enclosure should also include microfauna, including isopods, to break down organic waste and improve the vivarium's overall health.


The Benefits of Isopods in a Bioactive Setup


Isopods, also known as woodlice or pill bugs, are small invertebrates that are known to inhabit almost any environment. In a bioactive setup, isopods serve as microfauna, helping to break down and decompose organic waste while improving nutrient cycling.


In addition to improving nutrient cycling, isopods offer a variety of benefits to the bioactive enclosure, including:


  1. Maintaining soil quality: Isopods are known for their ability to maintain soil quality, helping to reduce odours and improve drainage.


  1. Enhancing bioactivity: By breaking down organic waste, isopods create food for other microorganisms in the vivarium, increasing the bioactivity of the enclosure.


  1. Reducing pests: Isopods can also outcompete other unwanted pests in the enclosure, reducing the need for pesticides.


Types of Isopods for a Bioactive Setup


There are several types of isopods suitable for use in a bioactive setup. Some of the most commonly used isopods include:


  1. Armadillidium vulgare: These isopods are native to Europe and are known for their hard exoskeletons and the ability to curl into balls.


  1. Porcellio scaber: These isopods are native to Europe and are known for their ability to reproduce quickly.


  1. Armadillo officinalis: These isopods are known for their unique armour and are native to the Americas.


Setting up a bioactive enclosure with isopods requires careful consideration of the substrate and microfauna. It is essential to provide appropriate conditions for the isopods while ensuring they do not outcompete other organisms in the enclosure. To ensure the health and well-being of your red-footed tortoise, it is essential to choose the right species of isopod and monitor their growth and behaviour closely.


Red-footed tortoises are fascinating and unique pets that require specific conditions to maintain good health and well-being. Creating a bioactive enclosure for your red-footed tortoise can provide a natural and stimulating environment that promotes good health. The addition of isopods can enhance the bioactive setup, providing a range of benefits to the vivarium's overall health and well-being.


When setting up a bioactive enclosure with isopods, it is essential to choose the right species of isopod and monitor their behaviour and growth carefully. With the right substrate, lighting, feeding, and water conditions, your red-footed tortoise can thrive in a bioactive setup with isopods for a natural and enriching environment.

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