Common Name: Red Footed Tortoise

Scientific Name: Geochelone carbonaria

 

Kingdom:  Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines
Family: Testudinidae

Genus: Geochelone

Species: G. carbonaria 

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The Red Footed Tortoise is quite a unique animal .It’s about 13.5 inches long and their heads come in many different colors, like red, yellow, and brown. Their skin has scales that usually have red markings, but sometimes the skin can be brown or black also. The tortoise can easily weigh over 20 pounds, the females are smaller than the males and they also weigh less. The Females and males also are the same height and length but the male’s tails are always larger and wider than the females. These tortoises have a very large lifespan, they normally live 40-50 years. The Red Footed Tortoise lives in Central America and all over South America. The Tortoise prefers the grasslands, dry and wet forests, and the outskirts of forests. This tortoise is mostly a plant eater. The tortoise eats vegetables, fruit, leaves, and even dead animals. Though, they mainly eat vegetables.

 

In the animal kingdom there are thousands of Red footed tortoises in central and South America. Their population continues to stay the same. During certain times of the year they are hunted by people. Now people have been selling them and taking them from their homes. Their main enemy isn’t an animal. It’s people, they have been cutting down forests abandoning the animals. The Red Footed Tortoise is very sensitive to change and adaptation. Sometimes when these tortoises have to adapt they just go a long period of time without eating and then they just start eating again when they feel comfortable. When people take these animals as pets they don’t eat for the first few days. They do this because they don’t feel comfortable. These tortoises eventually start to eat and feel comfortable.

 

There are very few animals that eat the Red Footed Tortoise. Many animals do not hunt this tortoise because of its hard shell. The Red footed tortoise can retract itself into its shell if there is danger nearby. The only animals that could feed on this animal would be scavengers. The scavengers would get the tortoises after they were killed or near death. The biggest threat to the tortoises would be humans. Since humans chop down forests, the tortoises have a lot of trouble adapting. If the forests become chopped down then the tortoise’s species would have trouble surviving. This act could lead to the extinction of the Red Footed Tortoise. This tortoise competes with different species of tortoises for food. They compete with animals like the Yellow footed tortoise and the Red Legged tortoise. Most other species of tortoises are more aggressive than the Red Footed Tortoise.

 

During July through September the Red Footed Tortoise lays its eggs. Around this time is its mating season. The males compete in wrestling matches to declare who mates and who doesn’t. The males try to turn each other over on their shell to win their tournament and then mate. The reason the loser of the wrestling match doesn’t mate is because the females want to mate with the strongest male so that the hatchlings have better genes. Also, in the tournament the tortoises don’t injure or kill the opposing turtle. After the male has won its opponent the male keeps on walking the female tortoise until the female is in a position to mate. The male Red Footed Tortoise has a very unique body. Its body shape is made so that it can mate without losing balance or falling while it’s mating. After mating the females become restless and they go looking for a place to dig a nest. The female will usually lay one to eight eggs in their nest. Sometimes the female will lay up to fifteen eggs in one nest.

 

This tortoise is an animal very important in the pet trade. Many people have them as pets because they are very interesting and beautiful animals. They are extremely good eaters and even eat some people’s crops in South America. If they get overfed or if they eat too much their Shell will start to become like a pyramid shape and their shell will reach an enormous size. You’d think that the tortoise would be lazy and an animal that just sits around but, in fact the Red Footed Tortoise is one of the most active tortoises. Unlike most animals the Red Footed Tortoise leaves its burrow or nest in the early hours of the morning to go and find food for itself. The Tortoise usually roams around all day and returns to either rest or to sleep. Some of the first Red Foot Tortoises arrived in the Caribbean. The Tortoise is said to have arrived in the Caribbean with the Pre- Columbian Indians. The Indians carried the tortoise around as food. Today the Red Footed Tortoise’s meat is still prized by the people of the Caribbean. The Red Footed Tortoise is a very interesting animal that many people see in the wild and keep them as pets.

 

Author: Alec C.

Published: 02/2009

 

Sources: 

http://www.honoluluzoo.org/red-footed_tortoise.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-footed_tortoise

 http://www.tortoise.org/archives/carbonar.html

http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/cs-redfoot.htm

http://bcrc.bio.umass.edu/vifishandwildlife/Education/FactSheet/PDF_Docs/12Redfoot.pdf

http://www.kingsnake.com/rockymountain/RMHPages/RMHredfoot.htm