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North American Animals - mamals, birds, reptiles, insects

 Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)




Gopher Tortoise | Gopherus polyphemus photo
Gopher tortoise, NASA Kennedy Space Center

Photograph by NASA. License: Public Domain.  (view image details)

Gopher Tortoise | Gopherus polyphemus photo
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Photograph by United States Geological Survey. License: Public Domain.  (view image details)

GOPHER TORTOISE FACTS

Description
The Gopher Tortoise has a brown, gray or black carapace, and yellow or tan underside (plastron). Hatchlings are lighter in color. Males have a concave plastron, while females have a flat plastron. Males have longer tails than females. Gopher tortoise males have two rounded scent glands under the chin to mark territory. Gopher Tortoise belong to the genus Gopherus - the only genus of tortoises native to North America.

Size
Average length 25cm. Weight 4kg

Environment
The Gopher Tortoise spends most of its time in burrows under the ground. The burrows are dug in dry sandhills, flatwoods, prairies or coastal dunes.

Food
Gopher tortoises are herbivores. They eat mainly grasses. Also eats berries, fruit, and some carrion.

Breeding
Gopher tortoises mate in late spring, during April and May. The female lays 3 - 15 eggs in a sandy mound near the burrow. The eggs hatch after 70-100 days. Hatchlings reach maturity after 10-15 years of age.

Range
The Gopher Tortoise is native to the coastal plains of the United States. They are most common in Florida, and are also found in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, south eastern South Carolina.

Conservation Status
The conservation status in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "vulnerable".

Classification
Class:Reptilia
Order:Testudines
Family:Testudinidae
Genus:Gopherus
Species:polyphemus
Common Name:Gopher Tortoise


Relatives in same Genus
  Desert Tortoise (G. agassizii)
  Texas Tortoise (G. berlandieri)
  Bolson Tortoise (G. flavomarginatus)