How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active

Red-footed tortoises are a popular pet due to their relatively small size and ease of care. However, they are also known for their low activity levels, which can make it challenging to keep them entertained. Our experts believe proper stimulation and enrichment are necessary to keep Red-footed tortoises active and healthy. Now, you may wonder how to keep Red-footed tortoises busy? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

As a pet owner, it’s crucial to understand how to keep your Red-footed tortoise active and engaged, as a lack of activity can lead to several health issues. In this guide, we will explore some tips and tricks to help you keep your Red-footed tortoise active, healthy, and happy. So, whether you’re a seasoned tortoise owner or just starting, read on to discover how to keep your Red-footed tortoise moving and grooving!

How do Red-footed tortoises naturally stay active in the wild?

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
stay active in the wild

In the wild, Red-footed tortoises stay active by foraging for food. These tortoises are omnivorous, meaning they feed on a variety of plant and animal matter. Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, insects, spiders, and small vertebrates. They will also consume carrion if they come across it. Foraging for food keeps Red-footed tortoises active and allows them to explore their environment in search of food sources.

Red-footed tortoises also stay active by basking in the sun. These tortoises are ectothermic, meaning they rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. They will often bask in the sun to stay warm and will use burrows to hide from the sun when it gets too hot. Additionally, Red-footed tortoises are known to be good climbers, and they may climb trees and shrubs in search of food or bask in the sun. This activity helps to keep them physically active and engaged in their environment.

Large and stimulating enclosure

how to keep red-footed tortoise active
Large and stimulating enclosure

An enclosure is essential for Red-footed tortoises, as it allows them to explore and engage in natural behaviors safely. When setting up an enclosure for Red-footed tortoises, it’s critical to provide an environment that is both safe and stimulating. Here are some factors to consider when creating an enclosure for a Red-footed tortoise:

  • Size: Red Footed Tortoises are a very active species and need room to move around and explore. Small enclosures can cause stress and boredom, leading to decreased health and a decrease in activity. A large enclosure can provide plenty of space for the tortoise to roam and explore, allowing them to stay active and fulfilled. The enclosure should be at least 8 feet long by 4 feet wide for a single adult tortoise, with additional space for each additional tortoise.
  • Substrate: A substrate or bedding should be used to line the bottom of your tortoise’s enclosure. The substrate should be a mix of organic topsoil, coconut coir, and cypress mulch. This will provide a naturalistic environment for the tortoise and allow for burrowing and digging.
  • Hiding places: Red Footed Tortoises are naturally shy creatures and need secure hiding places to feel safe. The enclosure should have several hiding places, such as logs, rocks, and plants, where the tortoise can retreat when it feels stressed or threatened.
  • Climbing structures: Red-footed tortoises are good climbers and enjoy basking in elevated areas. Provide branches, logs, and other climbing structures for them to explore. Keep on reading this article to learn how to provide proper climbing structures. 
  • Water feature: Red-footed tortoises need access to a shallow water feature for soaking and drinking. While a feeding bowl is not required, it is crucial to have a suitable water dish for tortoises. Your Red-footed tortoise should be able to quickly get to it, and it should be shallow.
  • Lighting and heating: To metabolize calcium, Red-footed tortoises need to be exposed to UVB rays. Your tortoise will receive UVB exposure from the sun if you maintain it in an outside enclosure. Get a UVB light if they are kept inside to simulate the natural sunlight the tortoise would receive in the wild.
  • Diet and enrichment: Provide a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources such as insects and earthworms. According to experts from Turtle Holic, their diet should contain at least 50% vegetables, 40% fruits, and 10% insects/protein. Offer enrichment activities such as tortoise toys and puzzle feeders to keep the tortoise mentally stimulated.

Offer climbing structures

how to keep red-footed tortoise active
Offer climbing structures

Climbing structures help to create a stimulating environment for your Red-footed tortoise. It provides a variety of different levels and heights in the enclosure, which will allow your pet to explore and exercise. When they climb, they will use their feet, legs, and head to move around, which helps to keep them active and healthy. 

Here are some tips for offering climbing structures:

  • Choose various and safe materials: Make sure the materials you use for climbing structures are safe and non-toxic for the tortoise. According to experts from Turtle Forum, consider various items such as rocks, sticks, logs, and bushes for making safe climbing structures. Avoid materials that can splinter, such as bamboo, and make sure there are no sharp edges that could injure the tortoise.
  • Offer stable structures: Make sure the climbing structures are durable and won’t tip over when the tortoise climbs on them. You can use heavy rocks or bricks to stabilize the design if necessary.
  • Place structures strategically: Place the climbing structures in areas where the tortoise is likely to climb, such as near the basking area or over the water feature. This encourages the tortoise to use the structures and stay active.
  • Rotate structures: To keep the Red-footed tortoise engaged, rotate the climbing structures periodically. This provides new challenges and maintains the environment stimulating.

What are some toys or items that can be used to keep a Red-footed tortoise active?

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
toys or items that can be used for a Red-footed tortoise

Providing toys and items to keep a Red-footed tortoise active is a great way to promote their physical and mental health. Based on our tortoise experts’ experience, here are some examples of toys and items that can be used:

  • Foraging toys: Foraging toys are designed to encourage the tortoise to search for food. These can include puzzle feeders or hiding food in various locations within the enclosure.
  • Balls or objects to push: Red-footed tortoises enjoy pushing things around, so providing a ball or small object for them to move around can be stimulating. Nothing is cuter than your Red-footed tortoises having fun pushing pebbles about their habitat. They like to stack them up or simply push them around the tank.
  • Hiding places: Red-footed tortoises enjoy having hiding places to retreat to when feeling stressed or threatened. You can provide a variety of hiding places, such as logs, rocks, or artificial caves.
  • Digging box: Red-footed tortoises enjoy digging and creating burrows. Providing a designated digging box filled with the substrate can offer the tortoise a space to engage in this behavior. The greatest option is dirt, but make sure it’s not too damp. You do not want a messy, muddy situation.
  • Mazes or obstacle courses: Creating a maze or obstacle course within the enclosure can encourage the tortoise to explore and navigate through different paths and challenges. If you want to go extra, the maze can include climbing toys, hiding spots, gentle inclines, or hills to traverse.
  • Floating objects: Red-footed tortoises enjoy swimming and may benefit from floating objects such as a floating log or plastic ball in their water feature. Try submerging a little rubber ducky or other floating bath toy in the water and watching your tortoise. 

Create feeding challenges

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
Create feeding challenges

If you are looking for ways to keep your red-footed tortoise active, then creating feeding challenges is an excellent option. Red-footed tortoises are omnivorous, which means they will eat a variety of foods. Creating different feeding challenges can stimulate their senses and encourage active foraging. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Here are some ideas for creating feeding challenges:

  • Hiding food: Hiding food in various locations within the enclosure is a great way to encourage the tortoise to forage and search for food. You can hide food in a variety of places, such as under logs, rocks, or plants.
  • Puzzle feeders: Puzzle feeders are designed to challenge the tortoise to work for their food. You can create your own puzzle feeder using a plastic container or cardboard box with holes cut into it. Place food inside the container, and the tortoise must work to get the food out.
  • Scattering food: Scattering food on the substrate of the enclosure is a great way to encourage the tortoise to search for food. You can spread food in a variety of areas throughout the enclosure.
  • Using food as a lure: You can use food to encourage the tortoise to engage in certain behaviors. For example, you can place food on a climbing structure to encourage the tortoise to climb or put food in the water feature to encourage swimming. Feeding the tortoise with tongs can also encourage them to reach for the food and promote physical activity.

Regular exercise

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
Regular exercise

In order to keep your Red-footed tortoise healthy and active, regular exercise is essential. Regular exercise helps to maintain the tortoise’s physical health by keeping its muscles toned, aiding digestion, and promoting healthy growth. Exercise also helps keep the tortoise’s mental health in check by providing stimulation and reducing boredom. Without regular exercise, the tortoise may become lethargic and less active, leading to a number of health issues. 

In order to ensure adequate exercise, you must give the tortoise ample space to explore. This could be accomplished by providing an outdoor enclosure that is at least twice the size of the tortoise’s shell. If an outdoor enclosure is not available, an indoor set-up with plenty of space for the tortoise to move around is ideal. Additionally, it is essential to provide the tortoise with plenty of hiding spots, as these help them feel secure and comfortable. 

Are there any health benefits to keeping a Red-footed tortoise active?

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
health benefits to keeping a Red-footed tortoise

Red-footed tortoises are naturally active and are known for their curiosity, socialization, and exploration. They will roam around and explore their enclosure, as well as interact with their keeper. You can help keep them mentally and physically active by providing enrichment activities and opportunities to explore. This can include providing hiding places, climbing structures, and other objects for them to study in their enclosure.

Physical activity is vital for Red-footed tortoises, as it helps them to maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone. Regular exercise also helps to reduce stress and can prevent health issues such as obesity, metabolic bone disease, and even shell deformities. In addition, active Red-footed tortoises are also more likely to reproduce successfully.

Lighting and appropriate temperatures

how to keep red-footed tortoise active
Lighting and appropriate temperatures

When it comes to lighting, Red-footed tortoises need UVB lighting. UVB helps with the production of vitamin D3, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium and other nutrients in the Red-footed tortoise diet. It’s best to use a combination of fluorescent and basking lamps to provide this lighting. You should also try to provide 10-12 hours of light each day in order for them to get the proper amount of sunlight each day.

Moreover, give your tortoise access to both a warm and a cool space according to the weather. The basking spot should be kept between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cool area should stay between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cascade Kennels suggests switching off the lights at night when temps can comfortably dip to 70°F.

Feeding schedule

How To Keep Red-footed Tortoise Active
Feeding schedule

Red-footed tortoises should be fed a diet that consists of a variety of fresh fruits (40%), vegetables (50%), and proteins (10%). Establishing a feeding schedule for your Red-footed tortoise is an integral part of keeping them active and healthy. Here are some smart feeding tips to follow:

  • Offer food daily: Red-footed tortoises should be offered food every day to ensure they are getting the proper nutrition they need. We recommend you offer food twice a day, in the morning or early afternoon, when the tortoise is most active. Redfootbreeder suggests providing them 2 days of food and off 2 days. It is best to give these meals at the exact times each day to establish a routine.
  • Provide a balanced diet: Red-footed tortoises require a varied and balanced diet that includes a mix of vegetables, fruits, and protein. Offer a variety of greens such as collard greens, dandelion greens, and kale, as well as fruits like strawberries, mango, and papaya. Protein can be provided through occasional meals of insects or cooked lean meats, such as chicken or turkey.
  • Monitor portion sizes: Feed your Redfoot tortoise as much as it will eat in 30 minutes. It’s important not to overfeed your Red-footed tortoise, as they can quickly become overweight. Monitor portion sizes and adjust as necessary to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Consider feeding in a separate area: To encourage activity, consider providing your Red-footed tortoise in a different place from its enclosure. This will require them to move around to get their food, which can help to promote exercise.
  • Provide access to fresh water: It’s essential to provide your Red-footed tortoise with access to fresh water at all times. Change the water daily and ensure it is shallow enough for the tortoise to quickly drink from.

What are some signs that a Red-footed tortoise may not be getting enough exercise?

how to keep red-footed tortoise active
What are some signs that a Red-footed tortoise may not be getting enough exercise

A lack of exercise can lead to many problems, including obesity, shell deformities, and even behavioral issues. There are several signs that may indicate that a Red-footed tortoise is not getting enough exercise:

  • Weight gain: If your Red-footed tortoises are gaining weight rapidly or have become overweight, this may be a sign that they are not getting enough exercise. Red-footed tortoises require regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Lethargy: Your Red-footed tortoises may not be getting enough activity if they spend much of their time napping or lying immobile. A lack of exercise can cause your tortoise to become lethargic.
  • Lack of appetite: It’s possible that your Red-footed tortoises aren’t interested in eating since they aren’t getting enough exercise. Your tortoise’s desire can be stimulated by regular exercise.
  • Muscle weakness: Your Red-footed tortoise may not be getting enough exercise if they are showing signs of muscle weakness or is having trouble moving about. Regular exercise can help to strengthen your tortoise’s muscles and improve its mobility.
  • Shell problems: If your Red-footed tortoises are experiencing shell problems such as pyramiding, this may be a sign that they are not getting enough exercise. Regular exercise can help to prevent shell problems and promote healthy shell growth. Training on a regular basis can assist in avoiding shell issues and encourage healthy shell development.


Overall, it is essential to provide a stimulating environment for your Red-footed tortoise in order to keep it active and healthy. Make sure to provide your tortoise with plenty of space to roam, hide, and explore. Offer a variety of enrichment activities and items to keep your tortoise engaged. With the proper care and attention, your Red-footed tortoise can live a long and happy life.


How much exercise do Red-footed tortoises need?

Red-footed tortoises need a moderate amount of exercise, at least one hour a day. They should have some time to explore their enclosure and to move around outside of their enclosure. Training is essential to help keep the tortoise healthy, as it helps them to maintain a healthy weight, keep their muscles healthy, and helps to prevent boredom.

How much space do Red-footed tortoises need to stay active and healthy?

Red-footed tortoises should be provided with at least 8 feet long by 4 feet wide of living space. This provides them with enough room to explore, exercise, and forage for food. Larger enclosures are better, as they give the tortoise more space to roam and explore. The enclosure should also be well-ventilated as Red-footed tortoises need fresh air to stay healthy.

Can different types of terrain or environments be used to promote activity in Red-footed tortoises?

Yes, different types of terrain and environments can be used to promote activity in Red-footed tortoises. This is because Red-footed tortoises are active animals, and providing various types of terrain and environments can stimulate action and exploration. Different types of terrain and environments can also offer a variety of substrates for the tortoise to dig in, climb on, hide in, and explore. This can help keep the tortoise active and engaged and can also provide enrichment and stimulation.

Can a lack of activity in a Red-footed tortoise be a sign of a health problem?

Yes, a lack of activity in a Red-footed tortoise can be a sign of a health problem. A Red-footed tortoise’s activity level can be affected by a variety of issues, including infection, dehydration, injury, or a nutritional deficiency. If the tortoise is not active, it is crucial to take it to a veterinarian to assess its health.

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