All about Gopher turtles

Where exactly do you get a title at? The Lion is the King of the Jungle right? If I had one it probably wouldn’t be so flattering, alright now keep the wise cracks to itself! Knowing my friends I can guarantee it would be less than flattering. This brings me to an animal that has been given a title with some authority. The Gopher Tortoise, Nature’s Landlord or maybe the Landlord of the Sand hills, either way it’s definitely better than the moniker I would probably end up with. Its’ claws are wide and flat with little protective scales extending up the tortoises shovel like front legs.

Gopher Tortoise Gopherus Polyphemus Turtle

Their burrows can be up to 40 feet long and 10 feet deep, descending at a 30 degree angle. The width of the burrow is usually the length of tortoise, allowing for it to turn around in any section of the burrow. The male Gopher Tortoise can get a mean of 17 burrows while the female preserves an average of 9, but it is common to have more than 1 tortoise sharing the same burrow. Fellow tortoises are not the only species that share the burrows, actually not even close. The title Nature’s Landlord comes in the fact up to 360 different animal species seek refuge from the tortoises burrow. Cocoa Wildlife Removal.

The list includes the gopher frog, the Florida mouse, opossum, indigo snake, pine snake, armadillo, burrowing owl, gopher cricket, scarab beetles, the Florida Scrub-jay and many others. The Gopher Tortoise is cold blooded averaging 10 inches long and up to 9lbs, its’ life span ranges from 40- 60 years but in captivity can live over 100 years. This specific tortoise belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America nearly 60 million years ago and from the almost 23 species known to have existed on this continent as little as 4 species remain today. Once a year the female tortoise will lay an average of 6 eggs depending on their body size and it takes about 100 days for the eggs to incubate.

The gopher tortoises have temperature dependent sex determination, if the temperature of the sand is above 30 degrees the hatchlings will be female and under 30 degrees they’ll be male. The man tortoise has a concaved plastron (bottom shell) with a protruding plastron under the tortoises chin while the female’s bottom shell is perfectly flat.

When the tortoises head and neck are completely retracted into the shell, the tortoise is generally protected from most predators. Although the tortoise has some natural dangers like climate and disease, humans are the primary cause for the decline of the species. In a list which range from street mortalities to habitat destruction human interaction has played a major part in bringing this gentle herbivore closer to extinction. Florida gets the gopher tortoise present in all 67 counties which has it on the list as a species of special concern.

And Alabama have them listed as a threatened species but South Carolina and Mississippi have the tortoise on the endangered species list. The Gopher tortoise is an important part of the ecosystem and a few of the species that share its burrows couldn’t exist without them. Raising awareness and enforcing the protective laws is the only hope to keep Nature’s Landlord from being evicted

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