Wild Gopher Tortoises/ Discussion


Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Ocala, Fl
Hey! So I just wanted to show some pics of the wild gopher tortoises I've seen and just talk about them.

I have several russians and I got my interest in them from seeing these outside and wanting tortoises to actually be able to keep. I model the small burrows I make for my russians after the juvenile gopher tortoise burrows I see occasionally, and it has worked well and the russians love using them.

Also, many times I see gophers grazing on different types weeds, and I then search up that weed to see if its edible for my torts and usually, it is. I plant some in my russians enclosure, and they get a new food item they love! Seeing these gopher tortoises graze has made me aware that many tortoises prefer open areas with sparse plants that are easy to smell, and then eat. Like I feel that my russians do better in a pen with no lush grass floor, and more of a flat open area with different bushes/plants/sight barriers. I feel that that also replicates their natural habitat, and if your enclosure is full of grass it's harder for them to bask and graze on weeds. Just me, though.

Also, isn't it so interesting how in the first pic, if you look closely, the tortoise seems to have a respiratory infection? When I saw that tortoise, it had a wet, runny nose with sand plastered on its nose. It's amazing how these animals have to cope with any problem they face; worms, diseases, etc. without any vets or caretakers to help.

In addition, I was on a trail and found a juvenile/ half grown gopher tortoise grazing. Then, down the trail about 50 feet, was one about the exact same size walking around. I'm guessing they were from the same clutch because they were the same exact size, still having to grow twice their size to be full grown, and they were relatively near each other. However, one had several more growth lines that were smaller and closer together. This may show how growth lines do not determine an exact age. Just thought that was pretty interesting.
I find it interesting how this species is vulnerable on their conservation status. I understand that their sandy, pine savanna habitat is in danger as it is being replaced by housing and developments, but in the right habitat these tortoises are so numerous. There is this park near me that has so many, on one particular acre of land there I have seen as many as 10-15 burrows. I have seen them share burrows, and in addition, along the highway driving, sometimes on the side of the sloped sandy/grassy areas it is dotted with gopher tortoises burrows. At the right time in the morning or afternoon I may glimpse some on the edge of their burrow or walking and grazing. I'm so fortunate to be able to see these and they are such awesome, amazing tortoises!

It's also a good day if I see a Florida box turtle, I have only seen two in my life and one I had helped cross the road. Nice full grown adult male. The other time I saw one was when it was trapped in this pit and appeared to be a young female. I helped it out and it was such an awesome time getting to help such beautiful and awesome box turtles.

Also, the last image shows a habitat they prefer. I have noticed that the adults have their larger burrows out in the open, flat open expanses while there were tons of baby and juvenile burrows inside the grass on the left of the picture. This is probably because 1. it is sheltered and protected better from predators and 2. they may have chosen this spot because there is high humidity under the root systems of the tall grass. Very cool!

If you made it to the bottom, congrats for reading my long rant haha. I just find it so fascinating.
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Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jul 16, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
They do love scrub brush like that. And open feilds.
They're pretty common here in south Florida skirting the edges of the Everglades. But I've never seen more than I have up near Cape Canaveral. In the scrub areas near the ocean.
Here in Broward county there is also a place that takes in Gophers to live in a park called Fern Forrest nature center.
There are a lot there. So many that you don't need to look very hard for them.

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