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Red-footed tortoise

Geochelone carbonaria

Red-footed tortoise

Red-footed tortoises get their name from their red, orange or yellow scales which are visible on their legs, as well as their heads and tails.

The shell is smooth and narrow to help the tortoise squeeze past trees and plants in tropical forests. Unfortunately the meat from the red-footed tortoise is considered a delicacy by many communities and huge numbers of the species are shipped all over South America and beyond, for human use.

Animal class

Rainforest and forest

Diet - Omnivore
Red footed tortoises eat grass, fruit, flowers and small plants. They will occasionally eat carrion.

The average red footed tortoise has a body length of up to 30.4 centimetres and can weigh up to 12 kilograms.

Red-footed tortoises prefer humid forests but also live in other habitats in central and South America.

The IUCN does not consider the red-footed tortoise to be at risk of extinction. The species is listed under Appendix II of CITES.

Habitat destruction and being hunted for food are the main threats to red-footed tortoises. They are also caught and sold as pets.

Current population
There are no official records to show how many red-footed tortoises live in the wild but they are thought to be numerous.

Zoo population
There is no breeding programme for red-footed tortoises but there are more than 1,300 living in zoos around the world.

Key to acronyms

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature

CITES - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

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