Need help: found redfoot in wild (in sub-tropical area they are not native)

Tater Salad

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Hello,​

I am Nathan, I signed up for this forum because I found a tortoise in the wild that I believe has been accurately classified as a redfoot. I am an avid hiker and live on an island in the Caribbean (I won't get more specific) that I have found these tortoises are not native to. I know the fauna well on this island, so I assumed as much when I decided I should take it home assuming it was likely a pet prior to being released into the wild. I have decided I would really like to keep it and care for it, but I am not even close to sure how to go about it. I have a lot of questions...

Current "enclosure"

I currently have the tortoise in a dresser drawer (that isn't in a dresser). I have put a dish large enough for him (I hope it is a him, I named him Manny :p ) to crawl into if he wants to soak, though he has only done this once in 3 days. The tort's shell is almost 6 inches long and seems to be just a little lumpy, which from what I am reading could mean calcium deficient, but it really isn't bad at all. The dresser drawer is probably 2' X 4'. I have newspaper and some coconut "coir" (stringy stuff from the inside of coconuts?) that I found outside in the bottom for him. Also a few clumps of long grassy weeds that resemble hay in texture and color. He usually just walks to the corner, scrunches the newspaper up, and chills in his shell.

    • I can't afford to purchase anything for this tort. If I need something I will need to find or make it. Please keep that in mind as you answer. Also, the island I live on doesn't even have a full grocery store, so I would have a very hard time getting anything at all.
      • Do I really need a lamp? I live in the subtropics and have no A/C. it is usually hotter in my living quarters than outside. If it is necessary, is there a creative way to simulate this without buying a lamp?
      • Is my current enclosure sufficient in space for now? When will I need to upsize?
      • Does my current enclosure need anything else I could find or make?
      • We have a tile floor and I just let him roam around , but he usually just hides in a corner or under my wife's feet in his shell. is that normal? he is out of his enclosure probably 3-4 hrs a day
Current Diet

I let Manny walk outside in my backyard (it is pretty much the jungle)for about 30 mins a day and he eats a bunch of little green leaves. I then bring him inside to let him feast on some mango and cabbage (basically would be whatever fruit is in season and occasionally something we can pick up at a market. I let him eat to his hearts content in one sitting and take away leftovers for tomorrow. After that, he walks around a very little bit, goes to a spot next to my wife's feet, then poops. I clean it off the tile floor, soak Manny, stick him in his enclosure , and leave him there for most of the night after.

  • Like I said, limited grocery options, but I can forage and look at the markets
    • Will my tort live a healthy life on this diet? If not what can I add that I can find or is very cheap and common in the subtropics.
    • should I try to get a cockroach every once in a while for protein?
Other Questions

  • Can I take my tort to hiking trails with me and let him get back in the wild every so often?
  • Will he stop hiding in corners soon and walk around? he doesn't scurry over. he just seems to explore until he finds a nice dark corner, then he cozies up head first and chills there until I move him.

In short I just want to know if what I am doing now is sufficient. if there is anything I am doing that will harm this tort, please let me know.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Nathan, and welcome to the Forum!

It sounds like you have your tortoise act together, however, we'll need to see pictures of the animal to be sure we're giving you the correct information.
 

allegraf

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From what I understand the Pirates would take the tortoises as a food source and when they reached a port where they could get fresh supplies, they would dump them. Redfoot said have been found on several Caribbean islands. You could also supplement with cactus. Send pics so we can on firm it is a redfoot.
 

teresaf

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I can't help wondering how red foot tortoise got on that island. most people don't take their tortoises on vacation with them...did you post flyers to find out if anybody lost the redFoot recently?
 

Kapidolo Farms

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The Caribbean being a large place with many islands it is as likely an escaped pet as it could be from a naturalized introduced population. There are several species found here and there in the 'Caribbean' including a large population of one of the more rare Pelusios.

No matter how it got there I agree with Yvonne, provided it is a redfoot, you are doing well with the care you have outlined.
 

Tater Salad

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Okay I am trying to upload 1 picture with this post. I can do better/more pictures if needed tomorrow when it is light out again. I feel like this has become my child lol. Love this little guy. Can anyone tell me how old they think he might be? and if he is actually a he? like I said. shell is 6" or so.


Thank you for helping me so quickly

Manny 3.jpg
 
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Tater Salad

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thank you allegraf for pointing me to the thread that was related. that is very interesting. So there might actually be more of these on this island. I have studied so much of the flora and fauna and didn't ever come across anything suggesting any kind of tortoise ever roamed these parts. Very interesting.
 

Yvonne G

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It is indeed, a RF tortoise. There are two things I would change about your care - don't allow him to roam around the house outside his enclosure (too many bad things on the floor for him to get into trouble with) and change the substrate from newspaper to something you can keep moistened and he can dig around in.
 

Tom

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You ought to make him a large, safe enclosure and let him live outside. Loose on the floor in a human habitation is very dangerous. Everyone thinks its fine and that nothing bad will happen... until something bad happens. Over here we take them to a tortoise vet, spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, and they can sometimes be saved. Since vets and vet bills are not an option for you, prevention of injury and impaction should be your priority. Incorporate lots of trees, bushes, shade and a sturdy, water proof shelter into your enclosure design. Sink a large terra cotta plant saucer into the ground as a water dish/soaking pool, and feed him on a tray of some sort. You can make the pen out of scrap wood planks, plywood, cinderblocks, bricks, railroad ties, corrugated metal (Like from "tin" roofs.), etc... Go big. Really BIG, so he has food to graze on and lots of cover and micro climates to choose from depending on the weather.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Hello, Nathan, and a very warm welcome to Tortoise Forum to you and Manny.
He's a beautiful little guy.
If you want to soak him and he won't do it himself, just place him in a high sided plastic container with the water in up to the level a little above where the plastron joins the carapace. Leave him there for 15 to 20 minutes or so, maybe a couple of times a week.
If it stays hot enough, day and night, all year round you won't need a lamp, as long as he gets enough natural sunlight.
For an enclosure bigger is always better, as big as you can possibly manage.
It's not a good idea to let him wander around the house, eating a small object like a paperclip could be disastrous and even dust bunnies can be a serious health risk and cause impaction. Accidents will happen.
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/listing-harmful-redfoot-foods.99607/ shows a list of foods they SHOULDN'T eat
and
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/red-footed-tortoise-diet.111845/
talks about things they can eat, though I appreciate some will be unavailable to you.
A photo of the tail area on the underside of the plastron would help people to determine the sex, as for age, it's impossible to be accurate unless you know the hatch date(which of course you won't). They get to be more than 10" as adults, usually and so it's probably young.
Good luck.
 

ZEROPILOT

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As you'll find, a Redfoot is a great pet.
The "lumpiness" you mentioned is not a calcium thing, it is a humidity too low thing.
On the other hand, your tortoise looks really nice and your tropical weather should be just ideal for both of you.
Congratulations!
 

Tater Salad

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Thank all for the help, I rent a small hut from a west Indian lady that surly won't let me change my backyard (which is her garden) into a tortoise enclosure. Though that sounds awesome, I unfortunately won't be able to do that at this time. What I may be able to do is work on an indoor enclosure that is about double in size.

Yvonne, what kind of stuff can I put under my tortoise to allow him to dig and that can be moistened? are we talking dirt? I have been collecting coconuts to strip them of their "coir" as it seems it is called. I read a little bit about that, but it seems awkward in there as substrate. it is just long and stringy and...awkward lol. Maybe I read incorrectly.

So you guys don't ever let your torts roam around your house? I mean, my place is only 1 room. I like chillin with the little guy and reading or being on the computer. I also let him outside to roam while I sit out there. And don't your guys' torts just chill on your lap while you hang out ever, or is that weird? lol. I just have a hard time leaving him in his enclosure when I walk by and he is lookin up at me like.... plz? Can we go outside? haha
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Yeah, taking him outside for walks under close supervision is excellent, if you can't get an enclosure for him.
Of course he likes it.
You can use yard dirt as long as you're sure there's no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc in it. And not much sand.
House tortoises are always going to be in danger of being trodden on, one on the forum a while ago got its head squished in the door.
They can also get injured or killed by eating small objects, even dust bunnies can be dangerous.
If it really likes to sit on your lap for a bit, i guess it's ok, and if his enclosure's small, he will want to get out.
he'll get used to a nice bigger sized home though.
 

Tater Salad

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ok I am working on transforming an old bookshelf into a home for him. is there a different something I could find outside for substrate? remember I live tropical. thanks.

He does seem to really enjoy just hanging out under the little "awning" I made for him in his current enclosure usually, but I can't wait to give him something a little bigger! I didn't realize how into this tortoise I would get haha.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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Don't know about other tropical substrates besides coco coir, Morocco isn't enormously tropical.
Someone else should be about later.
Torts are addictive, aren't they?
 

Tom

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Reptiles rely on external heat sources to warm up daily. In most homes this requires some sort of heat lamp. In the wild or in an outdoor enclosure, they move in and out of the sun to regulate their temperature.

What is the typical day time high inside your house and what is the coldest over night low?

They also need sunshine to make vitamin D3 in their skin. Without D3, they can't use calcium and over time this will lead to metabolic bone disease and eventually death. A couple hours outside in a safe enclosure is enough to meet their needs.

I have seen turning a tortoise loose inside or out lead to disaster many many times.
 

Yvonne G

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Can you buy online? You can purchase bricks of coco coir that you rehydrate. Any other type of substrate would be too heavy to ship (cost too much), but coco coir (Bed-A-Beast) should be light and fairly inexpensive to ship.
 

Tater Salad

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Temps are usually about 85-88 inside here each day. cold day today and its only about 82 but that is very unusual... Night lows around 75 in winter, 80 during summer

I get him outside for about an hour each day, but I can look at boarding up a small area somewhere around here that he could wander around outside with less supervision. Might have to be in a couple months. I will have to do some searching and string pulling I am sure. Thanks again for all your help everyone. this is an awesome, active forum and I am sure I will be checking in. Maybe even asking more questions ;)
 
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