red footed tortoise diet

Red-footed tortoises are medium-sized tortoises with a lot of personality and enthusiasm. It is native to a wide range of habitats, including humid tropical forests, dry savannah, and semi-arid land in Central and South America. Red-footed tortoises make wonderful pets, are easy to care for, and do not have picky food preferences. Today’s article will tell you everything you need to know about a Red-Footed Tortoise’s diet.

As responsible tortoise owners, we must provide a varied diet for our red-footed tortoise to live a healthy life. This article will cover what to feed your Red Footed tortoise, and what to avoid feeding them. Continue reading to learn more about the diet of the red-footed tortoise!

Red Footed Tortoise Diet

Red-footed tortoises are omnivores, but they eat mostly plant material with only a small amount of animal protein in the wild.

The diet of the red-footed tortoise should consist mostly fruits and vegetables, with supplemental insects every now and then. Their diet should consist of 50 percent vegetables, 40 percent fruits and 10 percent. You should also give them calcium supplements from time to time.

If you don’t want to rely on fresh fruits and vegetables all the time, I recommend the two tortoise foods below.

red footed tortoise diet

Vegetables for a Red-Footed Tortoise

Vegetables should account for roughly 40% of the diet. When feeding your red-footed tortoise, use as many different foods as possible.

what vegetables to feed a red footed tortoise

You can feed them romaine lettuce, turnip greens, kale, mustard greens, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and squash. Dandelion leaves or flowers, Hibiscus flowers, Cactus pads, and other non-toxic plant leaves or flowers can also be provided.

Avoid feeding your red-footed tortoise pale greens like iceberg lettuce or celery tops. Before feeding any new plants to your red-footed tortoise, consult a reputable source, as many ornamental plants and weeds are toxic.

Fruit for a Red-Footed Tortoise

Fruits, like vegetables, are essential components of the red-footed tortoise diet. Fruits should account for approximately 40% of their diet.

what fruits can you feed a red footed tortoise

Good fruits for a Red-Footed tortoise include raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, bananas, cantaloupes, peaches, watermelon, and mangoes.

They may also like grapes and apples, but it is important that you cut them into pieces before hand. Also, when feeding fruits to your tortoise, make sure to remove any seeds first.

If you want to feed them a special fruit, you should try feeding them prickly pear cactus.

Insects for a Red-Footed Tortoise

According to research, a strictly vegetarian red-footed tortoise diet can cause neurological issues such as hind-leg paralysis. As a result, their diet should contain at least 10% insects/protein.

what insects can you feed a red footed tortoise

If they are given too much animal protein, they may develop shell disorders, so it is best to feed them a small amount of animal protein only once a week. You can provide them with crickets, blood worms, mealworms, wax worms, and earthworms. Live slugs, snails, hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, and beetles are also great options.

I sometimes feed my red footed tortoise this insect mix.

insects for red footed tortoise diet

Calcium for Red-Footed Tortoise

Red-footed tortoises in captivity may require additional calcium supplementation. Many different brands of calcium powder are available on the market, but whatever brand you choose, look for a product free of phosphorus and vitamin D3. It should be sprinkled on the food once a day for turtles under a year old and 2-3 times a week for adults. Too much calcium can harm your tortoise, so only give them the recommended amount. You can also give your tortoise a cuttlebone, which is high in calcium.

Multivitamins for Red-Footed Tortoise

Vitamins are also necessary for proper body function. Many companies produce multivitamins for reptiles. You should remember that vitamins are easy to overdose on and that taking too many can be harmful. A reptile multivitamin supplement should be sprinkled on the food no more than once every one to two weeks.

Aside from diet, you should also make sure you have the proper Red-Footed tortoise habitat.

What foods should you not feed a Red-Footed Tortoise?

While red-footed tortoises can eat various foods, some should be avoided because they can interfere with nutrient absorption or cause other adverse health effects. Foods to avoid include:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Bok choy
  • Rhubarb
  • Beet greens
  • Citrus fruits (such as some oranges, lemons, lime, and grapefruit)
  • Grains (such as wheat, soy, pasta, and bread)

Now that you know which fruits and greens to avoid and which to feed your tortoise, you can choose from the list above and experiment with different combinations until you find your tortoise’s favorite. Now let’s talk about the various feeding methods and schedules for red-footed tortoises.

How much to feed a Red-Footed Tortoise?

There are two main methods for feeding a Red-Footed tortoises. There is the 15-minute method and the head-size method.

  • The 15 minutes method – This method is straightforward. You will feed your tortoise a large amount of food and allow it to eat for 15 minutes. The food will then be removed. A significant issue with this method is that red-footed tortoises are opportunistic feeders, which means they will eat everything they want in the shortest amount of time, even if you feed them regularly. This method is prone to overfeeding, resulting in pyramiding and an unbalanced diet.
  • The size of the head method – Another effective method for feeding tortoises is the size of the head. According to this method, you should feed your tortoise the amount of food required to feel its head if it were hollow. The simplest way to use this method is to find a small container that is the same size as your tortoise’s head. Fill it to the top, and that’s it. You can use an estimate if you don’t want to use a container.

The size of the head method is preferred because it takes the tortoise’s size into account, gives you a fixed amount of food to give, and the amount of food changes as the tortoise grows. When following a feeding schedule, it is also essential to consider your tortoise’s age.

Along with feeding them the right amount, it is also important that you have the best substrate for your red-footed tortoise.

Baby Red-Footed Tortoise Diet

Baby red-footed tortoises, for example, require the most frequent feeding because they require a lot of energy to grow. Tortoises grow at the fastest rate during this stage of their lives. And to grow so quickly, they will need a lot of energy, which they will obtain from food.

As a result, using the size of the head method, baby red-footed tortoises should be fed every day. In comparison, juvenile red-footed tortoises should be fed every two days or daily, with half the amount typically given to them. You can learn more in my article on how to care for a baby red-footed tortoise.

Finally, feeding them once every three days is sufficient because adult red-footed tortoises do not require as much food as babies and juveniles. When compared to the other age groups, this may not appear to be enough food, but remember that because of the way the size of the head method works, the size of the food portion also increases, so there is no problem; your tortoise is getting way more food than it did as a baby when it was eating daily.

Aside from diet, it is also important that you have the proper humidity for your red footed tortoise.


Now that you know everything there is to know about the red-footed tortoise diet, I hope you can provide a healthy diet for your tortoises. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a professional, as there is no harm in seeking assistance. Good luck, and hopefully, you learned something new about the red-footed tortoise diet!