A Florida Gopher Tortoise
Photo credit: Robbie & Staff @ SRWMD
The Endangered Reptiles
The Turtles of Florida
Endangered or Threatened Florida Freshwater Turtles
The Florida Gopher Tortoise
Although Gopher Tortoises are
not fond of water,
they may occasionally be
found near it.
They are neither a Freshwater
nor a Sea Turtle,
they are Land Tortoises.
They are listed with the
on this web site for
The Gopher Tortoise is quite an ancient reptile,
being a part of the family of the oldest
creatures who now inhabit the Earth.
The species may be 60 million years old.
The Gopher Tortoise is a light brown or tan color.
*Ours are always covered with dried sand.*
They may be as big as 16 inches long and
weigh up to a maximum of 29 pounds.
They may live up to 60-100 years.
Our Gopher Tortoises, male on left, female on right.
Photo credit: Walkingfox
The Gopher Tortoise prefers to live in a Sandy
Scrub Habitat and makes its home in burrows
that may be as much as 40-60 feet long.
This burrow/home is to protect the Tortoise
from the weather and predators.
They often share their home with an assortment
of neighboring animals that may include:
Snakes, Frogs, Toads, Armadillos, Foxes,
Skunks and other small mammals.
There may or may not be a small hill near the
where the female will bury her eggs, if she
finds a mate and
has reached maturity, which can take as long as 14
Mating normally takes place between May and July.
*Although ours were still working on becoming
parents into August.*
She will lay 4-7 eggs which will hatch in 80-90
The sex of her babies will be determined by the
of the Nest, warmer areas make females, colder one
If like me, you did not know the difference between
a Turtle, a Tortoise, or a Terrapin, it is all explained here:
Terrapin, what's the difference?
We have the pleasure and good fortune to have two
of them on our property in the Ocala National Forest.
Harriet came to live with us about four years ago,
then this spring, Harry crawled under our front gate,
dug himself a home and became Harriet's husband,
courting her daily with a traditional mating dance.
*The mating period is now over and by the end of summer,
if we are lucky, there may will be little ones to enjoy.*
No babies yet, she apparently is not quite old
enough to breed.
Better luck next year we hope!
We love watching them come out to eat everyday
and notice that they only chose the indigenous plants,
which is why we are careful not to eliminate
any of them from our yard.
If like us, you are blessed with the presence of these
ancient reptiles on your property, please consider
using only a natural form of pest elimination and
do keep them in mind before putting chemicals on
your yard, which in the end may harm not only
them and our pets, but we humans as well.
The plight of the Florida Gopher Tortoise has been in the
news a lot over the past few years, as some developers
push them out of their way to build more houses.
Hundreds have been ploughed under on several occasions
until protectors stepped in and stopped the slaughter,
those that had survived were then rescued
and moved to a safer place?
Not sure where in Florida that could be,
as everything here is about building,
Developers rule and politicians depend
on their support for future campaigns.
Can this be a new trend, one can only hope!
Some developers are now working with
Florida wildlife groups to relocate the Tortoises:
Developer helps to transplant Tortoises
Places to learn more:
Defenders of Wildlife
Department of Defense: Species Profile
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Gopher Tortoise Facts
The Humane Society
Florida's Gopher Tortoise Lack Protection
No Place to Hide
North Brevard Business Directory
Turtles of Lake
Development Promotes Disease Among Gopher Tortoises
Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce
Gopher Tortoise Conservation
Fish & Wildlife Service
University of Florida
Turtles and Aquatic Plants
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