The land tortoises offered by Redfoot Ranch have similar dietary needs and can primarily be fed the same type of diet. We specifically discuss the care of hatchlings (including diet) in learning. Information below is more generally applicable to fully mature adult tortoises.
When possible, tortoises should be kept outdoors during warm weather in a secure area where they can graze and can move between sunny and shady areas to regulate their body temperature. They also need to be provided with clean fresh water. Solid fencing is preferred and larger tortoises, such as spur-thighs will need very robust enclosures. Also, some tortoises can be extensive diggers so it may be necessary to bury a foot or more or wire cloth or other barrier material around the perimeter (that will also help to keep unwanted predators out). Tortoises need regular sunlight to support their Vitamin D needs. Natural sunlight is best, but, in indoor settings, a good source of UVB will suffice.
Vegetation serves about 95% of the dietary needs of all of our tortoises Their natural grazing should be augmented with dark green leafy items (e.g., collard greens, broccoli leaves). Be sure that none of their food has been subjected to pesticides.
I recommend varying their diet by including items such as the following:
• grated squash, carrots, zucchini
• grated spineless cactus pads
• bell peppers, cucumbers
• small amounts of fruit such as apples (no seeds), pears (no seeds), banana, and melon
• frozen (thawed) vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
• hibiscus leaves and flowers as well as leaves from my mulberry trees
• romaine and other lettuces
I avoid giving them iceberg lettuce (no nutritional value) and spinach (calcium binding). Redfoots, Cherryheads, and Yellowfoots can be provided with more fruit than other tortoises. Commercial tortoise food available in pet stores can be used as a small portion of their diet - soak before feeding. A calcium and/or multivitamin supplement should also be considered. Calcium can be added frequently (e.g., weekly or for every other feeding) while a multivitamins is appropriate for every other week or so (see information on the packaging).
An improper diet that is too high in protein or other nutrients could lead to your tortoise developing shell abnormalities such as deformed shells. A lumpy, domed or otherwise misshapen shell can result from excessive protein or inadequate sunlight. This could negatively affect their mobility and longevity and clearly detracts from their overall appearance
Maintaining the proper variation on temperature is very important for efficient digestion and may increase vulnerability to various diseases.
In summary, a well-balanced diet is critically important for proper growth and development. Variety is one of the keys to proper nutrition. Vary the diet frequently and provide the correct environment.