South American Yellow-Footed Tortoise

Chelonoidis denticulata

The yellow-footed tortoise gets its name from the distinctive yellow or orange scales found on its limbs. These animals communicate with each other with rapid head movements.

Females lay approximately four to eight eggs in each clutch, with a year-round breeding period. Yellow-footed tortoise eggs incubate for around 100 to 200 days. Typically, males are bigger than females, but most extremely large individuals are females. Males can be identified by the concave shape of their lower shell or plastron.

Did You Know?

These tortoises can live for more than fifty years!


This type of tortoise eats an assortment of fallen fruits, leaves, grass and occasionally carrion or insects.


As adults, yellow-footed tortoises are most frequently around 15 to 20 pounds. Some rare individuals grow to enormous sizes and can be up to 36 inches in length and over 100 pounds!


This tortoise is found in the rain-forests of South America. It ranges from southeastern Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Brazil and throughout the Amazon basin to eastern Colombia and Ecuador, northeastern Peru and northeastern Bolivia.

Population Status

The yellow-footed tortoise is considered vulnerable to extinction.


The largest threat to Yellow-footed tortoises is hunting by humans, as they are considered a delicacy in parts of South America. They are also endangered by habitat loss.

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Holly Bourbon
Curator of Large-Fish Exhibits/Diving Safety Officer

As the curator of large-fish exhibits, Holly's day-to-day responsibilities include managing our staff of aquarists and making sure that all of the animals under our care are doing well! Learn More

A Note From the Caretaker

Tortoises are very personable and are able to recognize their keepers. Our adult female loves to have her neck scratched. Here at the Aquarium, the yellow-footed tortoise’s favorite food is papaya and mango.


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