Cherryhead redfoot tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria) are a dwarf form of a redfoot tortoise that has a more contrasting coloration. It is a hardy starter tortoise that can adapt to live in a variety of habitats in captivity. They have an interesting look to them with typically a darker black shell and more red on the head than a normal redfoot tortoise. They have an intelligent personality not found in many other tortoise species.
Originally from Brazil, it is produced somewhat rarely in the United States, but is usually available as a captive bred baby.
We keep our baby cherryhead redfoots outdoors when possible if the nighttime lows are above 60, and the daytime highs are below 95. They need access to shaded areas, as well as something safe to graze on while outdoors. Indoors, we keep them in large, short plastic containers on a sphagnum moss or crushed coconut husk substrate. We soak them at least twice a week in ¼” of warm water for 30 minutes to allow them to get well hydrated. They are fed a diet that consists of fruits, veggies, spring mix and Mazuri tortoise food. As babies, they need softer foods they can tear apart, or foods chopped small enough to swallow whole. They are also one of a few tortoise species that will eat earthworms or other small insects as a way to provide protein in its diet. Standing water is suggested, but not required as long as they are getting regular soakings. The substrate should be kept moist at all times to maintain high humidity levels.
Natural sunlight is best for tortoises of all ages, but if the tortoise is kept indoors, it needs to be supplied with a source of UV-B from its lighting. It should also have as a spot bulb that will allow the tortoise access to an area where it can reach a temperature between 85 and 90 degrees if desired.
The adults of this species can achieve some moderate sizes, up to 13” long. It is recommended that you have access to a good sized yard where it can be maintained most or all of the year. In colder climates, you will need to have indoor accommodations since this is not a hibernating species. This tortoise appreciates high humidity and moderate to warm temperatures, and would probably not be the best choice for the coldest parts of the country unless it can be maintained indoors during the coldest months. It will thrive outdoors in the warmer states if plenty of cooler retreats are provided, and some level of humidity can be maintained. Adults of this species can handle slightly lower and higher temperature extremes than babies.