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Turtles/Redfoot Tortoise


Gooey poop?
Gooey poop?  
We recently got a redfoot tortoise. We have a 40 gal tank that we keep her in over night or when the weather gets bad (we live in se texas) that has bark in it with a cuttle bone, water, log hiding spot, 100W basking light that keeps the temp on one end around 95 (other side would be around 75 or 76). We mainly let her roam outside in out fenced in backyard. We have not seen a vet yet because we have only had her for about a week. We feed her a mixture of spring mix, kale, collards, carrots, zucchini, and occasionally some fruit. We have ordered a supplement called TNT that was recommended on a redfoot tortoise page, but that has not come in yet. We put food out in the morning when we let her out and put fresh food down at the end of the work day (we work from home, so she isn't out all day with no one home). She has water out, but we also soak her in warm water twice a week. I'm not sure if she is wild caught or captive bred...we bought her from a pet store. She last ate this morning, and her last normal ppop was last night. She had this gooey clearish poop (maybe poop?...picture attached) this morning. I have read about urates, but I wasn't sure if that is what this is since most of the pictures online look more like white poop. Do you know what this may be caused from? Do I need to take her to a vet?

Can you give me a specific link to the specific supplement product you're talking about. The one's I'm seeing reference to may not be appropriate AT ALL. Forums are actually one of the most terrible places for advice, in my opinion. Too full of white noise from neophytes, and many of those people are 12 years old and claim to have years of experience. I wouldn't recommend taking anything suggested you see in a forum without further research.

You state 100W basking lamp, but you did not state that it was UVB. If she is going outside daily, then this isn't necessarily a problem, but if she is indoors for days on end or has to be brought in for winter, then she will need a dedicated UVB lamp, and for that I recommend Arcadia lighting T5 HO UVB tubes or one of their mercury vapor lamps. I am originally from Huntsville, and lived in the Beaumont area, so I know it gets cold enough down there that a tortoise shouldn't remain outdoors over winter. This species is from S. American rain forests.

A 40 gallon would also be woefully inadequate on size for this species, and heat creep can be an issue in those since it's a bit small to set up a proper thermal gradient for extended periods with a species that gets as big as a redfoot does. I do not recommend aquariums at all for a tortoise or turtle. I would suggest an upgrade for overwinter housing, and build a tortoise table or something similar for extended indoor periods.

This species is omnivorous, although animal protein should make up a smaller part of the diet after grown. It's mostly important in hatchlings and juveniles, but it should be offered about once a week. Invertebrates and occasionally some softened dog biscuits would be fine. The diet otherwise sounds OK, except I would add more variation eventually, and add mushrooms and you can use fruit a lot more often with this species. They're used to it in S. America.

I would recommend getting rid of the bark substrate. It poses an impaction hazard if ingested. Coconut fiber substrate is far better. You didn't list humidity, so I'm going to guess you don't have a gauge. This species obviously needs higher humidity than many other commonly kept tortoises.

How old/big is she?

As to the photo you have included, this is not urates. Urates are white to off white crystalline excretions that are like spackling paste when first passed, and dry to a chalky stone. They are often accompanied by a clear viscus liquid portion, which is a thick urine. This is a tissue of some kind. Whether it's from something eaten or not, I can't say, as whatever she was eating the week before you got her would likely be most relevant. I would inquire what they feed them at this pet store. She also could have eaten something in the yard that could explain this.

Getting them checked by a vet is hit or miss. Depends on the vet. If they aren't specifically ABVP board certified in reptiles/exotic, or an ARAV listed vet with some continuing education credentials, then you're likely wasting your money at best, and risking them killing your tortoise at worst. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is taking a reptile in to see a veterinarian who is not well trained in reptile medicine, and for that, normal veterinary schooling is insufficient. 90% of vets will get something wrong, so you would have to search for one on the ARAV or ABVP websites for best results. But if the tortoise otherwise is active, eating, eliminating, eyes bright and clear, no runny nose, leaking cloaca, or popping or wheezing when breathing, then there's likely no cause for concern. Any vet is going to look for something to charge you for before you can get out of their office, since this is an exotic, and most don't know what the hell they're doing with a reptile, to be blunt.

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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research and easily find the answer yourself. I have stringent standards that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me ANY question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer EACH of those questions to provide that background will result in your question being REJECTED. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and intermediate-advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,,, and a Dept of State Health Services certified animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house. I am most experienced in Chelonia (turtles&torts) with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata (lizards & snakes) with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question, in general, that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes first with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer.


I am an amateur herpetologist, with 20+ years experience in reptiles. I am a reptile rescuer and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service. I have medical and scientific resources available, and have had to learn herp medical care over the years. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct a few in the past, as it related to reptiles. My specific area of expertise is in Chelonians ( primary- Box Turtles ), Phrynosoma ( Horned Lizards ), and Crotalids ( primary- Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes ); though I have some knowledge and/or experience also with aquatic turtles ( primary- Red Eared Sliders ), tortoises ( primary-Sulcata and Horsfieldii ), monitors ( primary- Savannah ), many other smaller lizards, and with some colubrid snakes.

I am currently the caretaker of 5 Horned Lizards, 22 Box Turtles, 18 aquatic turtles, 7 fire Bellied Toads, 3 Green Iguanas, 1 Spiny Lizard, 1 Bullsnake, 5 Eastern Ratsnakes, 4 Great Plains x Eastern Ratsnakes, 1 Albino Great Plains Ratsnake, 1 Massasauga Rattlesnake, 1 Leopard Gecko, 7 Fox Squirrels, 2 Deer Mice, 2 Hispid Cotton Rats, 3 Merriam's Pocket Mice, 1 Cotton-Tail, 1 Former racing pigeon, and 1 Budgie. Previously: Leopard Geckos, Golden Gecko, African White-Spotted Wall Gecko, Mediterranean Geckos, Bahama Anoles, Ca. Kingsnake, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Russian Tortoise, Savannah Monitor, and Eastern Cotton-tail rabbits.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My 20+ yrs of hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

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I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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