This Friday, April 10 is Gopher Tortoise Day! Gopher tortoises are found in all 67 counties across Florida and have been on the planet for 60 million years! These long lived, gentle reptiles are considered a keystone species because they dig burrows that provide shelter for nearly 350 other native wildlife species. Their burrows, which they excavate with their front feet, are from 30 to 45 feet in length and up to 10 feet underground. The burrows keep them, and other animals, safe from predators, wildfires and the hot sun. Female tortoises lay ping pong-like eggs after reaching maturity, but only a few of the babies will survive to adulthood.

Our native tortoise faces many threats, including development of their preferred upland habitats. FWF continues to promote gopher tortoise habitat conservation and appropriate land use and management practices. We also educate the public about this important and wonderful creature.

Remember to never put a gopher tortoise in water! They do not swim and are strictly land animals.

If you see a gopher tortoise crossing a road, and it is safe for you to do so, you may move it across the road in the same direction it was headed.