Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Red Footed Tortoise

Popular as pets, the Red Footed Tortoise originally hails from South America, where export permits are required to take them out of the individual countries. Most tortoises now found in captivity were captive bred. The Red Footed Tortoise is of least concern on the IUCN list.

Tortoises at the Lincoln Park Zoo
They are a medium sized species, growing up to 14 inches in length, though the males are typically longer and heavier than the females. Red Footed Tortoises are primarily herbivores, consuming grasses, fruits and mushrooms, though they will sometimes consume carrion. They are also attracted to red and yellow flowers.

Red Footed Tortoises are quite colorful... for a tortoise.  They have red, yellow and orange colorations on their legs and heads, and their shells range from brown to black with lighter patches. An interesting feature of their anatomy is that as they age, their top shells (known as carapaces) become slightly concave on the sides, giving them a "waist."

Tortoise courtships coincides with rainy weather. Their mating ritual involves a male tortoise approaching another tortoise, standing side by side with them, and then bobbing his head back and forth in a series of jerking motions. If the other tortoise is male, he will respond with similar motions, and perhaps some shoving around. If the other tortoise is female, however, she will do nothing, and mating might commence. Red Footed Tortoises are also very picky about head coloration, and may not breed with other individuals who do not match their desired colors.

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