While we were living in Florida, this gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) lived in one of the empty lots across the street. It would come over to our side of the street and eat the grass. As long as it lives in the lot across the street, it won’t be able to be built on. In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as a threatened species. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under the state law. Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating these tortoises.
The gopher tortoise is a threatened and protected wildlife species found exclusively in the southeastern part of the United States.
The solitary gopher tortoise prefers to live in dry places with soil that is loose enough for maintaining its retreat burrow.
The bulk of food that the gopher tortoise consumes consists of grasses and leaves, as well as fruits and berries.
Gopher tortoises are herbivore scavengers and use their sharp-edged and beak-like mouths for shearing and tearing vegetation with ease.
The carapace, that covers the soft body of the gopher tortoise is made up if fused and ridged plates. Each plate represents a year’s growth.
The gopher tortoise is a rapid and powerful digger similar to the gopher (Geomyidae) from which it gets its name.