Florida Gopher Tortoise
A Florida Gopher Tortoise
Photo credit: Robbie & Staff @ SRWMD


The Endangered Reptiles of Florida



The Turtles of Florida


Endangered or Threatened Florida Sea Turtles


Endangered or Threatened Florida Freshwater Turtles


The Florida Gopher Tortoise
Gopherus polypnemus


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 Freshwater Turtles

on this web site for convenience only.


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 opening

 where the female will bury her eggs, if she finds a mate and

has reached maturity, which can take as long as 14 years.

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 days.

The sex of her babies will be determined by the temperature

of the Nest, warmer areas make females, colder one make males.


If like me, you did not know the difference between

a Turtle, a Tortoise, or a Terrapin, it is all explained here:

Turtle, Tortoise, 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.*

An update:

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

Gopher Tortoise


Department of Defense: Species Profile

Gopher Tortoise


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Gopher Tortoises

Gopher Tortoise Council


Gopher Tortoise.org

Gopher Tortoise Facts


The Humane Society

Florida's Gopher Tortoise Lack Protection

No Place to Hide


North Brevard Business Directory

Gopher Tortoise


Peter May

Turtles of Lake Woodruff


Science Daily

Development Promotes Disease Among Gopher Tortoises


Smithsonian Marine Station at Ft. Pierce

Gopher Tortoise



Gopher Tortoises




Gopher Tortoise Conservation


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise


University of Florida

Turtles and Aquatic Plants



Walking with the Alligators

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Educating Visitors About Florida's Wildlife Since June 09, 2008

Last edited November 21, 2022

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