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Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Turtles Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

General Description: A land turtle with a moderately domed, gray-brown shell.

Taxonomy: Tortoise Family (Testudinidae).

Technical Description: A terrestrial "turtle." Carapace moderately domed, brownish; can exceed 14-inches long. Hind legs stumpy, round, and elephant-like. Front legs broadly flattened with leathery skin and large scales. Male with indented plastron; female with flat plastron.

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Diet: Primarily grasses (70-80% of total intake by volume), but also young shoots, stems, and roots of herbaceous plants, and seasonally available forage from woody plants such as flowers, fruits, and leaves from vines, shrubs, and trees. Usually gets sufficient water from the food it eats, but will drink standing water when available during dry periods. When food is unavailable, can stay in underground burrow for months.

Habitat: Most common in sandy habitat types, especially in longleaf pine savannas. Dig burrows that can be nearly 50-ft and 10-ft deep, which in contrast to Desert Tortoise, are extremely long and deep, so it needs areas where burrows can be dug.

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Range: Southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain from eastern Louisiana to southern South Carolina and south through peninsular Florida

Similar Species: This is the only tortoise species in the southeastern U.S.

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Comments: Tortoises dig dome-shaped burrows. If you look into burrows to try to find them, expect to also see creatures such as rattlesnakes that use the burrows. Tortoises can live in excess of 50 years.

Special Remarks: Gopher tortoise west of the Mobile and Tombigbee Rivers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are listed as "Threatened;" eastern populations have been found to warrant similar status, but are now listed at "Candidate Species" for listing. Gopher tortoises are protected, and may not be taken from the wild.

Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise male; Dunedin, Florida
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise male; Dunedin, Florida
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise exiting burrow
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise burrow
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise burrow
Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
Gopher Tortoise burrow

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121105

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