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Malti hails from South America. Redfooted tortoises are native to the country, and they can be found in diverse habitats, including grasslands and deep, lush forests.
The forest redfoots don’t see a lot of direct sunshine. This is both because they are under so much greenery, from giant trees to bushes and ground-hugging vegetation, and also because if they do come out, they are liable to end up as someone’s lunch!
The grasslands redfoots probably get more direct sunshine, but they still need to stay out of sight for reasons of (apparently) general deliciousness.
Still, it took me some good amount of time before I got it into my head that Malti didn’t need to be sitting in a direct sunbeam to get the ultraviolet light exposure she needs to keep her shell and bones healthy.
In fact, in nature, she would get everything she needs probably while hiding under a bush or a rock somewhere!
As a baby tort, she was very, very reluctant to come out into the open, even when the “open” was nothing more than a short rock slab under a UV bulb in her (heavily guarded) indoor enclosure. When I would take her outside for lawn time, she would sit motionless in place for up to half an hour before finally beginning to move about and explore.
If I would put her down and disappear from direct line-of-sight (not common but it did occasionally happen), she would wait until I returned before starting to walk about on the lawn.
Now that she is older, bigger, heavier, more used to life “with flock,” she enjoys a good direct sunbeam bask right along with the rest of us. But even when indoors, she still prefers to crawl into or under or behind something, just to have the extra shelter and protection this provides.