The yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus), also known as the Brazilian giant tortoise, commonly referred to as the Brazilian giant turtle, or more commonly, the big turtle, is a species of tortoise in the family Testudinidae and is closely related to the red-footed tortoise (C. carbonaria). It is found in the Amazon Basin of South America.
Yellow-footed tortoises are a large species – fifth-largest overall and third-largest mainland species, after the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea), Galapagos giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra), African spurred tortoise, and Asian forest tortoise. Typical sizes average 40 cm (15.75 in), but much larger specimens are common. The largest known specimen is a female that was 94 cm (37 in) long. They closely resemble the red-footed tortoise, and can sometimes be difficult to tell apart, especially as a preserved specimen, which led to quite a bit of confusion over the names and ranges.
The carapace (shell top) is a long oval with parallel sides and a high-domed back that is generally flat along the vertebrals (scutes or shell scales along the top of the carapace) with a slight peak near the hind end. There are five vertebral scutes, four pairs of costals, eleven pairs of marginals, no nuchal scute (the marginal over the neck) and a large, undivided supracaudal (the marginals over the tail). The front and rear marginals (scutes along the edge of the carapace) are slightly serrated in front and rear of young yellow-footed tortoises. The carapace is yellowish brown to dark brown or even black at the edges of the scutes. The areola in each scute are pale yellow, orange or light brown and blend into the darker carapace.
The plastron (shell bottom) is thick around the edges, and the gulars (front pair of plastron scutes) do not project past the carapace. The plastron is yellow-brown turning nearly black near the seams.
The head is relatively small and longer than wide. The upper jaw has three tooth-like points. There are large black eyes with a tympanum behind each eye. The skin of the head and limbs is black with yellow to orange scales on top and around the eye and ear. The forelimbs have five claws, are long and slightly flattened. They are covered with fine, dark scales and slightly overlapping larger scales on front in the same color as the head. The hind limbs are elephant-like with four claws, and are covered in small scales colored like the forelimbs. The tail varies in length by gender and has a row of colored scales on the sides.