Redfoot Tortoise Care Budget

As a redfoot tortoise (and rescued box turtle) keeper, I like to talk about “cuteness.”

I love to whip out pics of my adorable shelled family members to share with others (whether those others have particularly expressed interest in seeing my pics or not).

What I do NOT like to talk is about math. Numbers. Budgeting.

I am not a “numbers” type of person. I am a “wing it” type of person, which means I frequently find myself in numerical hot water. I don’t want this to happen to you! And it really isn’t a place you want to find yourself if you wake up one day and realize you have a sick tortoise on your hands.

Which is why redfoot tortoise care budgets are for people who plan ahead – smart people like you.

If you have not yet brought your redfoot tortoise hatchling or rescued redfoot home to stay and are still pondering whether this is the right decision at this particular moment in your life, you are my hero.

I mean it.

Looking back, I think I would have still chosen to add Malti to my family. But I would have done it from a position of confidence and competence rather than as a blind knee-jerk reaction to other elements in my life not going the way I wanted them to go.

This is a much better way for you and for your redfoot. The information I share here comes from six years of caring for a single redfoot tortoise who has had some serious health issues.

We will assume that your redfoot will avoid those health issues. But I include the potential budget line items because I think it is vital to do the work and add up the potential costs to understand what your financial outlay could be if your redfoot tortoise, like my Malti, does end up needing serious veterinary care for any reason at all.

As I so often share when answering questions like “should I get a tortoise?,” if you can’t afford the veterinary care, you can’t afford the tortoise (or any pet animal).

So let’s take a look at what you can expect to need to acquire for each phase of your redfoot tortoise’s care.

NOTE: I will not attempt to put prices with these items since costs can vary depending on where you live, what is available locally/online in your area and which specific products (bulbs, stands, et al) you decide to acquire. But you can use this worksheet to make out your own redfoot tortoise care budget and decide if this is the right time to bring a redfoot into your life.

One-Time Costs

  • Redfoot tortoise
  • Habitat/enclosure
  • Predator-proofing materials for outdoor enclosure
  • Thermometer (to measure temperature)
  • Hygrometer (to measure humidity)
  • Timer to auto-regulate light/dark cycles
  • Full-spectrum UV bulb
  • UV bulb safe housing/cover and clamp or stand
  • Ceramic heat bulb cover and stand
  • Under-habitat heat pad
  • Humidifer or mister  system
  • Power strip with built-in surge protector

Daily Costs

  • Fresh food and water
  • Treats, foods and/or supplements (as needed/desired)
  • Clean substrate and moss
  • Plastic plants or (preferably) tortoise-safe live plants
  • Hiding logs, covers or caves
  • Food and water bowls
  • Bathing/soaking tub
  • Shallow dish of water for soaking/wallowing
  • Cleaning supplies to maintain the habitat or enclosure

Every Three to Six Months Costs

  • Replacement UV bulb (if keeping your tortoise indoors)

Yearly Costs

  • “Well tortoise” veterinary exam
  • Pet health insurance (it will almost pay for itself the first time you need treatment)
  • Habitat or enclosure upgrade (as needed for a young growing redfoot)
  • Accessories upgrade (as needed for a young growing redfoot)

Emergency Fund

  • A sick redfoot tortoise is NOT a situation that can wait. Like all animals, redfoots will hide the fact that they feel poorly as long as possible. By the time you see the signs, it is likely you have a VERY sick animal on your hands, which means fecal tests, blood tests, and other very expensive-sounding diagnostic procedures. You will want to have money set aside for this in advance. (As an example, I once spent $1,200 on a CT scan to find out if the shadowy mass inside Malti’s abdomen was a tumor or cancer. The “mass” turned out to be developing EGGS!)
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