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Florida Gopher Tortoise

Marco Island Florida Tortoise Florida Wildlife Photos

Gopher TortoiseMarco Island is home to the endangered Gopher Tortoise. This amazing animal lives on the remote areas of the island. During mating season the tortoise will fight for mating privileges. The females lay eggs in the burrow the tortoise digs. The life of a Gopher Tortoise revolves around its burrow. The decline of suitable habitat is a major reason for the dwindling number of gopher tortoises. Observe and photograph gopher tortoises on Marco Island but please take care not to disturb the tortoise or the burrow. Ask us about Gopher Tortoise on Marco Island or share turtle comments. To feature your business, contact us.

SW Florida Wildlife: Gopher Tortoise

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Gopher Tortoise – Marco Island SW FL Wildlife

Tortoise Life

Gopher Turtle, Gopher TortoiseGopher tortoises, or “gophers” enjoy the sun and dry climate of Marco Island. Gophers prefer dry habitats, such as longleaf pine-scrub oak sandhills and pine scrub. Three conditions are needed for healthy tortoise populations: well-drained sandy soils for digging burrows, sufficient low plant growth for food, and open, sunny areas for nesting. Gopher tortoise populations are scattered throughout the coastal plain of the southeastern United States, with most being found in north-central Florida and southern Georgia. The Gopher Tortoise population is down substantially in southern Alabama and Mississippi, southeastern Louisiana, southeastern South Carolina, and along Florida’s southeast coast and throughout much of the Florida Panhandle. In Florida alone, gopher tortoise populations have dwindled to an estimated 30 percent of their original numbers.

Gophers or Gopher tortoises feed mainly on low-growing plants like wiregrass, broadleaf grasses and legumes. Gophers also eat apples, blackberries, saw palmetto berries and other fruits.

Gopher tortoises take a long time to mature ( 10-15 years) and can live 40 years or more. Tortoises mate during April and May. Female tortoises lay up to a dozen eggs or more, usually in front of their burrow in a sunny location. The incubation period of tortoise eggs varies from 70 to 90 days in Florida to more than 100 days in Georgia. Tortoise eggs are a favorite of many animals including; raccoons, foxes, skunks, alligators, fire ants, and others. Predators are believed to destroy more than 80 percent of gopher tortoise nests.

Gopher Burrows

Many animals beside the Gopher Tortoise utilize gopher tortoise burrows. The tortoise burrows are used for shelter by dozens of animals. The gopher frog, the Florida mouse, pine snake, gopher cricket, and others seek the dark, cool, shelter of gopher burrows to escape the heat and hide from predators.

Gopher Tortoise Racing

Tortoise racing has been outlawed by the Florida legislature. Tortoise racing was a Florida tradition. It was a popular way to raise money for local churches and civic organizations. Unfortunately the practice also removed many mature tortoises from their natural habitat and thus contributed to the decline of the species.

Tortoise as Food

Tortoise is considered a delicacy by some people. Tortoise may be tasty but it does not cure high blood pressure or impotence as some have suggested. Tortoise harvesting is now illegal in every state though illegal commercial harvesting does take place to supply the demand for gopher meat.


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