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Red-Footed Tortoise

Chelonoidis Carbonaria
Red-footed Tortoise
Conservation Status: 
Northern South America

Red-footed tortoises are popular pet tortoises from northern South America.  They are medium-sized tortoises that generally average 30 centimetres (12 in) as adults, but can reach over 40 cm (16 in).  They have a dark-colored loaf-shaped carapace (backshell) with a lighter patch in the middle of each scute (scales on the shell), and dark limbs with brightly colored scales that range from pale yellow to dark red.  There are recongnized differences between red-footed tortoises from different regions.  They are closely related to the yellow-footed tortoise from the Amazon basin.

Their natural habitat ranges from savannah to forest-edges around the Amazon Basin.  They are omnivorous with a diet based on a wide assortment of plants- mostly fruit when available, but also including grasses, flowers, fungi, carrion, and invertebrates.  They do not brumate but may aestivate in hot, dry weather.

Eggs, hatchling, and young tortoises are food for many predators but the main threats for adults are jaguars and humans.  Population density ranges from locally common to very scarce due in part to habitat destruction and over-all collection for food and the pet trade.

Red-footed tortoises show gender, regional and individual variations in color, shell shape, and minor anatomic characteristics.  Adult red-footed tortoise carapaces are generally an elongated oval with sides that are nearly parallel, although the sides of males may curve inwards.  They are fairly highly domed and smooth with a rather flat back.There is often a high point over the hips and a small sloped sections over the neck.  The vertebral and costal scutes (the scutes along the center and sides of the carapace) are black or dark brown with a pale yellow aureole in the center.  The marginals (scutes along the edge of the carapace) tuck under along the sides and flare slightly over the limbs.  They are dark with the pale aureole along the middle of the lower edge.  The nuchal scute (the marginal over the neck) is absent, and the marginals over the tail are joined as one large supracaudal.  Growth rings are clearly evident in most individuals but become worn smooth with age.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Red-Footed Tortoise", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.