75 cm


35 kg


65 years

The yellow-footed tortoise, also known as the Brazilian giant tortoise, is the sixth largest tortoise species on Earth, after the Galapagos tortoise, the Aldabra tortoise, the African spurred tortoise, the leopard tortoise and the Asian forest tortoise. 

General characteristics

The weight of the yellow-footed tortoise varies depending on its age, sex and diet. On average, adult males can weigh between 22 and 35 kg, while adult females weigh between 16 and 27 kg. Their carapace measures 50 to 65 cm in males and 65 to 75 cm in females. 

It is dark brown with lighter coloured or yellow circles on the carapace. The chest is brown with yellow squares, flattened in females and concave in males. They have multiple yellow spots on the legs and head, hence the name yellow-footed tortoise. The skin is shiny black with yellow markings on the head and lower jaw. 


They eat different types of leaves and grasses, as well as fruits and slow-moving invertebrates such as snails and worms. 


They are active in the morning and evening. In hot weather they are usually hidden in their hiding places or among the grasses, as they do not like direct sunlight. They enjoy rain and humidity.   

These turtles make a cooing sound like a baby’s cooing with a rough voice. They identify each other by body language: the male tortoise makes head movements towards other males, but the female does not. So if they don’t get a head nod in response from the other turtle, that’s an indication that the other turtle is female. 


Breeding season is synchronised with the onset of the rainy season. Males chase females with bites and blows until they agree to mate.

The fecundity of a female depends on her size; the larger she is, the more eggs she can produce. They usually lay between 3 to 8 eggs in one clutch, which require an incubation period of about 4 to 5 months at a constant temperature of 29 degrees and high humidity.  


It is a vulnerable species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species because of the commercialisation and hunting of these turtles in markets in Amazonian cities. 


They live in the tropical rainforests of northern and north-eastern South America. 

Did you know? 

They can nest up to 7 times a year.

If they do not have enough moisture, their eyes water and this eventually affects their health.

During mating, the males make a sounds very much like those of a chicken.

Conservation status