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Gopher Tortoise

The Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) averages 9-11 inches long, but can attain lengths of 15 inches. They can weight up to 15 pounds.  It occurs throughout Florida but prefers sandy, well drained upland areas.  It eats grasses, bean-family plants, fruits, and grass-like plants of the sunflower family.  They excavate burrows averaging 15 feet in length, but can be up to 48 feet long and about six feet deep.  Gopher tortoise burrows  may be used by many other species including the Florida mouse and indigo snake.   

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In Florida, the gopher tortoise is a species of special concern, and it is illegal to take, possess, transport, or sell gopher tortoises, or their eggs, except as authorized by the FWC.  Permits from the FWC are required to relocate tortoises.

For answers to specific gopher tortoise questions contact the FWC regional office nearest you.

More information

Gopher tortoise council

Wildlife Resources Handbook info  


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