Baby Cherryhead Tortoise - B Grade

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Description

Common Name: "Cherryhead" or "Brazilian" Redfoot Tortoise
Scientific Name: Geochelone Carbonaria
Current Size: 2"+
Average Adult Size: 9-12"
Area of Origin: Brazil

*We occasionally have baby tortoises that have irregular or "split scute" patterns on their shells. While many sellers won't disclose this, we consider these "B Grade" cosmetically, and offer them at a lower price. This does not affect the health of the tortoises in any way; they are just as feisty as their siblings. It's purely the look of them, and these tortoises tend to be females as they mature. It is non-genetic, and will not necessarily pass to any offspring from this animal.

Description: Black shell color, usually with yellow highlights in the centers of each scute of their shell, which are present from hatching (the black color grows in with age). This type of redfoot tortoise is more contrasted than the standard redfoot tortoises. The skin is black, with bright red spots on the front and rear legs. Head color is generally black skin with blood red markings (instead of the normal orange or yellow scales present on standard redfoots). We consider them "watermelon" shaped; somewhat elongated and rounded, no matter which angle you're looking at them from.

Habitat: Naturally these tortoises exist in a jungle edge habitat with moderate to high humidity and moderate temperatures. They can handle variable amounts of humidity in captivity once grown, but babies should be kept humid to ensure proper smooth growth. They do not hibernate, but will go through a winter slow down period during cooler weather and shortened daylengths. As adults, they can safely handle body temperatures as low as 45 degrees at night as long as they are able to heat up into the 70's during the day. Summer highs up to 100 degrees can be tolerated as long as there is a cooler, shaded retreat the tortoise can get into. Moisture is not a problem in warmer temperatures (a cool mud hole on a hot day), but in cooler weather and on cold nights, the tortoises should be kept dry.

Diet: This tortoise is naturally a browser, and will wander about munching on broadleaf plants and fallen fruit the majority of its natural life. They are known to eat meat in the wild, seen eating dead animals, worms and snails. In captivity, redfoot tortoises will eat almost anything well, such as leafy weeds and clover (dandelions are a favorite), fruit, vegetables and they love Mazuri tortoise diet.

Adult Behavior: Adult cherryhead tortoises are interactive and curious tortoises. They are usually unaggressive towards eachother and can usually be kept long term in mixed-sex groups. They are not damaging to their environment, rarely digging holes or burrows. Most redfoots will eagerly come to their keepers looking for food once they are comfortable in their environments.

Our Current Care:  During cooler weather or indoors, these tortoises are kept indoors on 2-3" deep coco coir substrate with a humid hidebox that they can get into at night. We raise them in cheap, simple plastic tubs that can be purchased at WalMart or Target, generally 3 to 4 square feet in size for babies. Temperatures in the room fluctuate between 75 at night up to 85 during the day, but we keep the hidebox heated to around 80-85 at night with a heat pad beind it, or a red bulb placed overhead.

Diet consists of spring mix greens with many other leafy greens, fruit and veggies offered in rotation to that (mulberry, bell pepper, apple, pear, melon, mango, papaya, endive, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves, and diced cactus pads). We like to also add moistened Mazuri tortoise diet as well as ZooMed's Gourmet Tortoise Food a few times a week, usually mixed and mashed into the leafy greens. The addition of the commercial diets take care of most or all of the supplementation needs, or you can sprinkle the food lightly with a calcium supplement 2 or 3 times a week and a multivitamin supplement 1-2 times a week. We also throw a pinch of our herbal hay on top of whatever they are eating almost daily, which adds variety and flavor and scent to everything.

The tortoises are removed from their enclosure and soaked in a separate 1/4" deep pan of warm water daily or almost daily for 30 minutes each time. We don't generally use water dishes in the enclosures because of the risk of drowning (yes, we have lost babies to drowning when they flipped over in 1/4" of water).

Being a tropical species, they don't need intense lighting, but they need lights on during the day and off at night to maintain a normal day/night cycle. We use full spectrum UVB lights, which we suggest for the growth of pretty, healthy tortoises, and use a simple spot bulb or ceramic heat emitter for heat in a small part of the enclosure to give them a "hot spot" around 90-95 degrees that they can get into if they want to warm up.

While these tortoises prefer higher humidity levels (60-90%), we don't use the "closed chamber" method (keeping airflow very restricted to increase humidity to the point that clouds form in the enclosure). It is very risky if/when temperatures get below about 80, and mold, shell rot, and respiratory problems become a lot more common in those conditions. We keep them open top in the warm area, and enclosed, warm and humid within the hide (like they would be in the wild). They are free to choose the conditions, temperatures, and humidity levels they want within that setup.