Best Substrate for Red Foot Tortoise (Top 3 Picks)

If you’re looking for the best substrate for your red foot tortoise, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I’ll discuss the top three substrates for red foot tortoises and why they’re the best. I’ll also provide a brief overview of each substrate so that you can make an informed decision. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Tortoises are terrestrial animals, so their habitat must have the correct type of substrate for them to thrive. The best substrates for tortoises are ones that are natural and mimic their wild habitats as closely as possible.

3 Best Substrates for Red Foot Tortoises

Here are the three best substrates for a red-footed tortoise.

#1. ReptiCasa Loose Coconut Substrate

Your red foot tortoise will love this all-natural loose coconut husk fiber substrate. This bedding is made with higher-quality coconut fibers that are better suited to keeping your tortoise cleaner. Plus, the natural fibers quickly absorb liquids or messes and break down odors that will keep your tortoise healthier overall.

This substrate is made of 100% coconut husk and is naturally biodegradable and compostable. It provides a quick, easy way to create a natural and realistic look while keeping your tortoise clean and odor-free.

#2. Microchip Coconut Substrate

Looking for a substrate that will create a perfect habitat for your tortoise? Look no further than the Microchip Coconut Substrate. Made from 100% organic coconut fiber, this substrate is both moist and humid to help your tortoise thrive in its enclosure.

In addition to being free of dust and debris, it’s also superior in humidity retention – keeping your tortoise content and cozy all year long.

Finally, it mimics the natural setting of a tropical environment, providing your tortoise with the best possible natural substrate.

#3. Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding

The Zoo Med natural tortoise bedding is made from the bark of fir trees which absorbs moisture and then releases it. This creates humidity, evenly distributes heat, and adds environmental stimulus.

The fir bark also has a natural repellent to mosquitoes and other insects which helps keep your tortoise healthy and free from pests.

This bedding is gentle on the tortoise’s skin and helps to pull away icky waste. Best of all, it is easy to maintain – just soak in hot water every 2 to 3 months and you’re good to go! The substrate also lasts up to one year, making it the perfect choice for long-term pet ownership.

How Often to Change the Substrate of a Red-Footed Tortoise

It is important to periodically change the substrate to ensure that your tortoise remains healthy. The substrate, or bedding material, in a red-footed tortoise enclosure should be changed every 6 months, or as needed. A complete change involves removing all of the old substrate and replacing it with fresh bedding. This helps to keep the enclosure clean and free of waste, bacteria, and parasites.

Ideal Depth of the Substrate for a Red-Footed Tortoise

Ideal Depth of the Substrate for a Red-Footed Tortoise

Ideally, a red-footed tortoise should have a substrate depth of around 6 inches, though this is not possible for everyone. Red-footed tortoises need a lot of space and if a 6-inch depth is not possible, you should provide them with at least 2 inches depth of substrate.

A deeper substrate depth is ideal for a red-footed tortoise because it allows them to bury themselves and stay cooler in the summer months.

How Often Should You Spray the Substrate?

It’s important to keep the substrate moist, but not too wet. Spray the substrate with water once a week. This will help retain moisture in the substrate and prevent drying out. This will also remove any smells that might be emanating from the substrate.

Substrates to Avoid for a Tortoise Enclosure

Here are some substrates to avoid using in a tortoise enclosure:


Wood chips and shavings may seem like a good idea, but they can actually be quite dangerous for tortoises. The sharp edges of the wood can easily splinter and become lodged in the tortoise’s skin, which can be very painful and even life-threatening. In addition, many types of wood contain toxins that can be harmful if ingested by tortoises.

Pine and cedar chips are two types of wood that should be avoided at all costs. Both of these woods contain oils that can be released into the air, causing respiratory problems for tortoises.


Alfalfa is a very absorbent substrate that can easily dehydrate your tortoise. It also contains a lot of protein, which can cause health issues if your tortoise starts eating it.


One of the most common substrates used for tortoise enclosures is sand. However, sand should never be used as the sole substrate in a tortoise enclosure. Sand can cause eye infections and intestinal problems if swallowed. It is best to use sand in combination with other types of soil, such as peat moss or potting soil.