Gopher Tortoise -- "Ask the Expert" -- 2012

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From: Kyle, Subject: Gopher turtle {blowing snot bubbles}, Date: December 15, 2012
Hi my name is Kyle and I have this gopher turtle on my property that is blowing snot bubbles I looked online and it said to give it warmth so I put a little light out I know they are endangered and I was wondering if there is anyone to come get him

Hi Kyle,
Is the tortoise going in and out of a burrow? Have you seen it eating? What state and county do you live in?
Becky

From: Krishpareek, Subject: Pls have a chick and replay, Date: December 7, 2012 small turtle - vastu
I have turtle or totes I'm not able to get it is shell is like sum symbol like god for vastu which is good

I am not sure what you mean about the shell, but I looked up Vastu. He was a great architect from India over 2,000 years ago. Do the markings on the shell remind you of Vastu symbology? That is very good!
Thanks for writing.
Namaste,       Becky

From: Vera, Subject: No Question just comment, Date: December 3, 2012
I love your blog and laughed a little bit to a few questions and your responses about not having them at pets or moving them. I know many people just don't know and I don't claim to be an expert, but I do love them very much and am a friend. :-)
Thank you again       Veronica

Veronica,
Thank you very much. It is really good to have people like you out there being advocates!
Becky

From: Xavier, Subject: {Gopher tortoise in Europe}, Date: November 28, 2012
Hello Becky,
I take care of a recovery center of Hermann's tortoises, in Catalonia (Europe), where we carry reproduction for conservation purposes. We also collect other species of tortoises that people leave, and we recently hosted a Gopherus plyphemus, an adult female, but not in very good condition.
Of course our interest is that one day could be returned to their place of origin, but the distance and bureaucracy make it difficult for us
The question is whether you can provide information about their care, feeding, temperatures required in summer and winter, and so on.
Thank you very much,       Xavier

Hi Xavier,
That tortoise cannot legally be returned to the U.S., so you have a new charge in your care. I have attached a link to a website that should tell you what you need. Please write back if you have more questions or concerns.

http://www.chelonia.org/Articles/Gpolyphemuscare.htm
Thanks,       Becky

From: Suhailah, Subject: Baby Gopher Tortoise swallowed a bone!, Date: November 24, 2012
Hello, I tried to send you a message last night, but I think it didn't go through. My phone service was in and out. Sorry. Anyways I will recap below my question in case you did not receive the first. Thanks.
My grandfather owns a nice piece of land that is a natural home to several gopher tortoises and their burrows, so we have all grown up learning about them and watching them.
Well, yesterday afternoon we came up upon a baby gopher, maybe a few years old, about as big as a good sized pomegranate I guess. Anyways, we were watching him walk around and eat, off and on, during the day when we observed some strange behavior.
We saw him chew on a small, old bone (maybe a chicken bone or other dead animal bone). Well he chewed a bit then took the bone into his mouth and swallowed it whole! It went down, and he appeared fine after that but it scared me to death!
I had heard that gophers ate bones, but I had never seen it happen. My grandfather has seen bigger ones eat bones but not any babies of that size. We were wondering if he is going to be okay. He won't die from an intestinal blockage or something like that? Are they able to properly digest bones like that, perhaps through their stomach acid?
I feel very scared and upset for the little guy. Any advice and/or explanations regarding this would surely ease my mind.
Thanks so much.

Hello,
I have heard about gopher tortoises eating bones on many occasions and seen it a few times myself. Some people think that they do it, particularly females, to help store calcium for egg production. I would not worry that the tortoise will do anything to itself that would cause it harm. They are not particularly smart creatures, but they have really good instincts.
Becky

From: Robert V, Subject: Gopher turtle and Ticks, Date: November 21, 2012
Hi I live in Citrus and have a Gopher turtle on my 1/2 acre of property, and I love her and her new babies! I do have a big concern though, My dog has become infested with literally hundreds of what seem like very small 6 legged ticks. They are all over near and around the hole. Now my wife and I have them all over us and our entire home is infested, including my dog, cat, and possibly my 3 snakes. This turtle dug his hole in my already fenced in yard, can I move him across the street in the woods where no one lives? We have spent hundreds on our animals and house to rid us of these ticks, and now we are infested again. These critters are tiny, about the size of a pin head or smaller, when i moved the turtle off the road the other day I had my entire hand covered with them. Do the ushually carry hundreds of ticks? Thank you for any help,       Rob

Hi Rob,
First, I don’t think you have ticks. Ticks have eight legs, not six. Collect a few of the bugs and take them to an extension agent in your county to see if he/she can identify them. A pest control person that you know is smart and that you trust may also be able to help.
Tortoises do get ticks, but I have never seen more than a very few on a tortoise at one time. The ticks that typically get on tortoises is a specific species (there are some in the collection at the National Tick Museum!). If your yard is infested and the tortoise is covered, the tortoise is probably not the source.
If you are still having problems and can’t figure out what to do, write me back. Also let me know what you find out from the extension agent.
Thanks,       Becky

From: CORPJET, Subject: borrow under the slab, Date: November 20, 2012,
While we were gone this summer a large Gopher Tortoise has created a large borrow under the slab our house is built on. Will it move on now that there is a lot of activity here. Will live on a one acre lot with lots of much better places to live for it. I know that I can't move it without a permit but I am hoping it will move out on it's own. Any ideas?
Stan

Hi Stan,
There is no way to predict what it will do. Some tortoises have different summer and winter home ranges, so it might leave now that the weather is cooler. However, if there is food and it likes that burrow, it may stick around.
Becky

From: Monica, Subject: gopher tortoise and rattlesnakes, Date: November 12, 2012
Hello,
My Mom lives in Ocala Fl and has many many gopher tortoise burrows on her farm. My Mom has adopted six children who range in ages from 13-5 yrs old and has a horse farm. Yesterday while the kids were out playing in the yard the dog started barking and she was thinking it was a gopher tortoise the dog was barking at. When she went out to see, it was a huge Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. She did research to find that these snakes live in the burrows made by the tortoises. It is very scary to think these huge snakes could continue to be on the farm in these burrows. It is even more scary to think these tortoises could be housing the most poisonous snakes on a farm where the kids and animals play. What is a solution to this problem. I understand the importance of protecting these tortoises but is there something we can do to have a safer environment because of the snakes. I am mortified to think there may be more living in the ground. Please any insight you have would be very appreciated.
Thank You in Advance.       Monic

Dear Monica,
If you find another diamondback, call your local animal control and ask them to come get it. There is really nothing you can do about the tortoises because they are legally protected and cannot be removed without a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. It is very unlikely that you could get a permit just because you saw a rattlesnake.
There is probably only one diamondback there because they require a fairly large area and a steady food source.
I suggest that your mom teaches the kids to be careful, not to reach into burrows, and not to mess with any snake. Diamondbacks are actually shy and much prefer to run away if they have the opportunity. If the children will listen and do as she says, I would be much more concerned about the dog getting bitten. They can be trained, too, but it takes a little more effort.
Becky

From: 9569703626, Subject: Enemies, Date: November 12, 2012
What are gopher tortises enemies?

When gopher tortoises are hatched and until they are around five years old, the shell is soft and just about anything can eat them. Common predators include raccoons, crows and jays, rats, house cats, dogs, and bobcats.
Becky

From: william, Subject: spur tortise, Date: November 12, 2012
I have a new afican spur tortise that seems to battle with my twice his size spur.
He has been flipped twice .can he flip himself back over?
Thanks

I have seen tortoises battle, and the point is to flip the opponent so he can’t turn back over and dies. I would separate them until the little one catches up in size.
Becky

From: Abhinov, Subject: tortise egg, Date: November 11, 2012

Softshell turtle
which type of tortise is this ?
can it lay egg in water?
can we touch its egg with our hand?

It is a softshell turtle. They lay their eggs in a hole they dig on the land. You can touch the egg if you want, but if you disturb it too much, it will not hatch. If you found an egg in the water, it was probably not viable anyway.
Becky

From: Melody, Subject: tortoise eyes are swollen, Date: November 10, 2012
I'm very sad to say that I think this disease I saw on Beckys website has affected my tortoises. Some are missing and one has been out of it's burrow on it's apron just sitting there for a couple of days. It's eyes are swollen and very runny. It seems to be having a hard time breathing. I put some natural plants by it, but it is not eating. Could you find out if there is anything I can do. They have been such a joy for me.
Thank you,       Melody

Hi Melody,
This time of year, it is normal for tortoises to “disappear” for long periods of time because of the change of seasons. They either go into their burrows and stay there, or they move to their favorite “winter” burrows. However, the tortoise that is sitting out is definitely not behaving right. If you can grab him and get him to a wildlife rehabilitator or vet with reptile experience, you might be able to help him.
Please let me know if you need any more information.       Becky

From: Mary Ann, Subject: Inground Pool, Date: November 9, 2012
I have noticed the tortoise hole about 15ft from my inground pool. Should I be worried about it doing any undermining of the ground surrounding the wall of the pool. How far in do they dig and will they ever go away...He decided to make his home right under my clothes line.
Mary Ann

Hi Mary Ann,
I have never heard of a tortoise burrow causing damage to any kind of structure. The burrows can typically be 12 - 15 ft. long, but go into the ground at a 45 degree angle. I think your pool will be safe.
The tortoise may stay or go; it's hard to say. You might want to put a pin flag or other small marker up near the mouth of the burrow so no one accidently steps in it. Make sure not to block the opening.
I really hope you enjoy having him in your yard. You are lucky!
Becky

From: Abhinov, Subject: about eggs, Date: November 7, 2012
sir what happen when i touch the egg of tortise with hand.because it lay egg behind the road .so tell me fast.what i will do?

If you found the egg on the ground, especially this time of year, it isn't fertile and the female just shed it. I would put it back and some animal will have a tasty meal.

From: dimitri, Subject: gopher tortoise cannot cross over road curb, Date: November 6, 2012
Hello!
I was simply wondering why are road curbs allowed to be built as they are a cause for these tortoises to die as they cannot get over them to get back into their habitat. They subsequently die from heat or are crushed by cars. How can we change this??
Thanks!       Dimitri

Dimitri,
Road curbs have specific functions that are important for keeping streets free of water, etc. They can negatively impact tortoises and other wildlife. Maybe building escape ramps every so often would help, but it is quite likely that the tortoises might not use them. They work on instinct, not intelligence.
Becky

From: Lvtca48, Subject: { injured baby }, Date: November 5, 2012
I have found a baby gopher turtle in my yard in citrus county fl, and his back legs are paralyzed he pulls himself along with his two front legs but my concern is he keeps getting stuck in the sand and sometimes cant get himself out i check on him everyday, I am trying to find someone who could care for him in my area do you have any suggestions, thank you Laura

Hi Laura,
I found two potential places in Citrus County. Links below:

http://natureworldwildliferescue.org/
http://www.hopewildlife.org/
If neither of these works out, write me back.       Becky

From: Brandi, Subject: Injured gopher tortoise!, Date: November 4, 2012
I have a gopher tortoise that has made his home in my back yard. Today a German shepherd got hold of him and damaged him pretty badly. The front of his legs were bloody and it chewed his shell up pretty badly. I got him away from the dog but he scurried back to his burrow. Will he heal on his owner should I try to take him to a rescue/sanctuary next time I see him? I know it's illegal to move them. But I'm worried about him getting hurt again.

If you can catch him, definitely get him to a wildlife rehab or a vet with reptile experience. He will likely need some antibiotics if he is going to survive.
If you know who owns the shepherd and you feel comfortable to do so, tell them that it is illegal to harm a tortoise and that they are responsible for their pets.
Becky

From: Wendy, Date: November 3, 2012, Subject: Sick gopher Tortoise
Hello,
I have a resident gopher tortoise who has lived on my property for over 3 years...1.6 acres. He/she chose to burrow under my blackberries, and we have become very used to each other over the years. Each year "it" leaves for several months (don't know how to tell the sex), always returning to my blackberries for the rest of the year. Last June & July when we had such terrific rains, much of my property was under water. When we flooded badly the 1st time, I went to check the tortoise...and found him/her near death from drowning, floating in his flooded burrow entrance. I though he was dead when I scouped him out of the water, but quickly realized I had rescued him "just in time". He was very waterlogged, and water seemed to drain from everywhere. Long story short, he spent the next 6 days in a cat carrier in my garage...it was pouring outside, water everywhere. It took him about 24 hours to regain his strength. I was very worried that he would develop a respitory infection, having nearly drowned. But, he seemed to bound back to normal. Each day I took him out to "graze" until he had his fill and headed back to his flooded burrow...and I would return him to the carrier. After 6 days the water in his burrow had receeded enough to give him shelter, and I released him. Unfortunately about a week or so later we had another huge system of rain, again flooding his burrow. This time he disappeared, and I assumed he had left seeking higher ground.

Last week he returned, and I was very happy to see him. I didn't think much about it until yesterday, when I decided to check on him. The burrow area was pretty overgrown with weeds, and he was sitting sideways in the entrance. He had clearly not been trying to re-excavate the sand that had washed in during the floods. I removed the overgrowth, returning the site to how it had always looked before he had left. Today I went to check him again. He was about a foot out of the burrow in the morning sun. But upon observing him for a bit, he seemed extremely weak. I was afraid he was injured, so I picked him up and inspected him. I found that he seemed very emaciated & probably dehydrated...and was in fact to weak to lift his shell off the ground. I noticed that the soft skin looked like it was peeling/shedding, and many of the scales on his front legs are missing. I didn't notice any discharge from anywhere, including eyes & nose, and no obvious wounds. I carried him to one of his favorite grazing areas. He began eating right away, though very weak and unable to move much. I spent over an hour picking young plump weeks for him, which he actually devoured ravenously from my fingertips. I've never in the past attempted to have any contact with him, simply admired and watched him from a distance...until he nearly drowned. His eating from my fingers totally blew me away. After an hour of so, I returned him to his burrow hill, and left him alone. I did excavate the tunnel a bit, so he could go deeper and be safer. Tonight I checked on him at dusk, and he's farther back in the tunnel now, again turned sideways.

I'm not a reptile person, and have no idea what he's suffering from. I thought perhaps a fungal infection or something, from spending a great deal of time over several months in wet mucky conditions. Is there any guidance you can give me as to anything I could do to try to help him, other than assisting him to his grazing area daily? I feel so bad for him. I know nature does what it does, but sometimes we need to "assist" the creatures that live around us. He obviously struggled greatly to find his way "back home" again. Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,       Wendy

Hi Wendy,
If you can get him, I would definitely take him to a wildlife rehab or a vet with reptile experience. Sounds like he may have developed an infection. Because reptiles are cold-blooded, they often take a very long time to manifest the outward signs of an illness. If he is really sick (and it sounds like he may be), he probably will need some antibiotics to get over it.       Becky

From: Michelle, Subject: Help... Gopher turtle with babies, Date: October 26, 2012
I live at the edge of a wooded lot in Mulberry FL. I found my dog with a baby turtle, and took it away. But they keep finding them.... And I am afraid they have eaten more than one. I have been able to locate the nest. What should I do? My dogs will eat them if they find the babies.... I thought maybe if I put a barrier on my property side of the fence, they would head the other way...Thank you!       Michelle

Michelle,
You can try putting up a barrier. If there is any way to teach your dogs to leave the tortoises alone, I would try that as well.
Becky

From: Joan, Subject: Gopher Tortoise eggs, Date: October 30, 2012
Dear Becky,
Today I watched a Gopher Tortoise burying eggs behind my house. I live in Bayonet Point, FL (34667)
in a community called Beacon Woods.
My property has been qualified as a registered Wildlife Preserve by the National Wildlife Assn. and is home to many kinds of birds, squirrels, raccoons, Armadillos, and Opossums.
My concern is for the place where the Tortoise buried her eggs. It seems to be a shallow, but covered hole, and I am afraid a raccoon will try to get to the eggs. For tonight I inverted a plastic laundry basket...placed bricks on top of it, and rocks and cement hunks around the edges of the basket. I know that there is a very long gestation period for the eggs, and want to do the right things for them.
Should I remove and try to incubate them?
Let them alone?
Continue to try to protect the spot with something more permanent than the basket?
Please help me do what will preserve some of the eggs to become hatchlings.
I know what to do for the Monarch butterflies (and do so) but the Tortoise is another matter all together!
Please contact me at the following ways if you have time, and if can help. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE.
Joan

Hi Joan,
It is well past the time of year that gopher tortoises should be laying eggs. Because you say the nest is very shallow, my guess is that the eggs are infertile and she was just getting rid of them. It won’t hurt to protect the nest with something that allows light and moisture in (metal cage), but I would be very surprised if they hatch.
Sounds like you have a wonderful place to live!
Becky

From: Vanessa, Subject: My african spurred torties, Date: October 30, 2012
My african spurred is 1yr old an I have notice that his mouth is getting crook it, and I would like to know if I should get worried? An what can I do to fix it or if I can do anything to help?.

Many times when a captive turtle or tortoise starts showing bone deformities, it is because of a deficiency in the diet. I have attached links to some care sheets that may help. However, I suggest that you take the tortoise to a vet that has reptile experience or find a herp facility at a zoo and see if they will look at the tortoise. If you address the problem early, it can probably be fixed over time.
http://home.earthlink.net/~rednine/sulcatacare.html
http://www.sulcata-station.org/diet.html
If you cannot find a place to take the tortoise, let me know what town and state you live in, and I will try to help.
Becky

From: Jim, Subject: sharing the borough?, Date: October 25, 2012
Will gopher tortoise share their borough with other gopher tortoise?
Thanks, Jim

Hi Jim,
Yes, they will definitely share burrows, at least for short periods of time.
Becky

From: Bruce, Subject: Gopher Tortoise & African Tortoise, Date: October 21, 2012
We have a legal licensed gopher tortoise (Bartholomew) outside in a safe roomy enclosure. He's about 15 years old now and very friendly. He even enjoys an occasional indoor visit. Do you think he would mined if he had an African tortoise roomate? If you say no than it is no!
So delighted to come across your web site.       Edward
P.S. We live in the Palm Springs California Valley Desert.

Hi Edward,
Are you sure you have a gopher tortoise and not a desert tortoise? Gophers only occur in the southeast U.S., but you are within the range of the desert tortoise. They belong to the same genus and look very similar, but are different species and have many different lifestyle characteristics.
I have seen people keep different species of tortoises together. If you get the new tortoise, it is very important that you know exactly what kind it is (there are several from Africa and their needs are not exactly the same). The enclosure for African tortoises needs to be very large. I have attached some care sheet links so you can check it out to see if you want to take on such a large animal.

http://voices.yahoo.com/african-spurred-tortoise-sulcata-tortoise-caring-for-1668219.html
http://www.anapsid.org/sulcata.html
Please write me back if you have questions or need more information.
Becky

What kind of turtle is this?

From: douglasdykes82, Subject: What kind of turtle?, Date: October 20, 2012
I live in Milton Dl and my kids brought me this baby turtle that was being eaten by ants. I got the ants off of him and that was about 3 or 4 weeks. I just don't know if its eating or not. He sleeps a lot

It is difficult to tell from one picture, but it looks like a very young mud turtle to me. I have attached links to care sheets that may help you. The best thing to do would be to let it go in some water (pond, shallow lake with vegetation, or ditch) near where the kids found it. That way, it will be able to find whatever food it needs and get ready to overwinter.
http://www.theturtlesource.com/caresheet_mud_musk_turtle.asp
http://www.popularpets.net/turtles/care-sheets/mud-turtle.php
Please feel free to write me back if you need more information. Also, if you send more pictures, particularly of its face, I might be able to make a better identification.
Becky

From: lorenzo, Subject: Gopher Tortoise on my vacant Lot, Date: October 20, 2012
Hi,
I just purchased a vacant lot in Ocala, Florida and while on the property raking up leaves and doing landscaping preparing for a small garden I found a Gopher tortoise and about 5 gopher holes along the eastern boundary line of the Poperty. I got the property surveyed for property boundaries and havent done anything else to it. What do I need to do in order to continue building. Its Agriculturally zoned so I want to start a mini farm and have a mobile home with some chickens, goats and gardens, eventually do some aquaponics. Please help.
Thanks,       Lorenzo

Hi Lorenzo,
If you are willing to be flexible, there should be no problem for you to have want you want and for the tortoises to be ok. I have attached a link to the gopher tortoise page on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website. Read that information carefully and learn about the legalities. If you decide that you can’t fit your mobile home or other buildings without impacting burrows, you can apply for a relocation permit on-line.

http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/gopher-tortoise/
If you have any problems or other questions, feel free to write me back.
Becky

From: MER, Subject: Gopher tortoise burrowing next to my foundation, Date: October 19, 2012
Hello Becky,
Saw a 6inch G.T. eating grass between my house and next door nieghbors here in Jacksonville,FL. Next thing I know she is burrowing right next to the foundation of my home. She has been circling my house every day for a week. Do I need to worry about her digging under my foundation? Should I call local Game and Wildilfe?
Thanks for your answer in advance       Mer

Hi Mer,
Very often, I hear about and see tortoises digging burrows next to building foundations and other slabs, and I have never encountered a problem. They dig at around a 45o angle so the burrow gets deep pretty quickly.
A six-inch tortoise is probably still a sub-adult and may not stay at your house for very long. However, if it likes it there and has no place better to go, you may have just acquired a new friend!
You can contact your regional office of the Wildlife Commission, but they will likely tell you the same things I have.
http://myfwc.com/about/inside-fwc/ne/
Becky

From: Brenda, Subject: Gopher tortoises living in fenced back yard, Date: October 19, 2012
Hi,
About a year ago we noticed 2 gopher tortoises living in our chain-link/wood fenced back yard. We’ve lived here 20 years and hadn’t noticed them before then. Our yard is about ¾ to 1 acre.
Is our yard large enough to support 2 gopher tortoises? They appear healthy and move around the yard regularly to their preferred spots.
How would they have arrived in our yard? It’s been fenced the entire time we’ve lived here. Would they be able to leave the fenced area (by burrowing) if they decided the area unsuitable?
We enjoy observing them and they are welcome residents. We simply want to make sure they have chosen a suitable long-term home for themselves.
Thanks,       Brenda

Hi Brenda,
If your yard has plenty of food for them and suitable places to burrow, two tortoises will be fine. Your guess is as good as mine as to how they got there. If there has been development around you that displaced them, they could have just wandered in looking for a home, or somebody could have dropped them off in the neighborhood and they decided to adopt you. Typical fences are no deterrent; they will easily burrow under if they want in or out.
I have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote that you might enjoy reading. It is copyrighted material, so use it for you own education only, please.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Debstg, Subject: suburban GT, Date: October 18, 2012,
We live in a subdivision in Waterford Lakes, just south of UCF. Our backyard is very small, but we have had gopher tortoise nests in our backyard for a couple years now. Just recently we have a very small burrow right outside our back door. What can we do to protect this darling and to make our backyard a better habitat for them?
Thank you for your time.
In Peace       Deb

Hi Deb,
I have attached a chapter from a workbook written by a friend of mine. I think it will be helpful to you. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Shona, Subject: how to age, Date: October 10, 2012
Hi I have a tortoise she is a Spur Thighed..not sure where she comes from. I had her since i was 4 1/2yrs old i am now almost 41.
As far as i know we knew at the time, we thought she was about the same age as me, so could you tell me how i can estimate her age?
I have no idea at all how old she is, can you help?
Regards       Shona.

Hi Shona,
There is not a good way to age a tortoise once it becomes an adult. The growth rate is slow, but variable depending on climate and nutrition. Below is a link to information on spur-thighs that you might enjoy. It is very cool that you have had it for so long. So many people do not realize when they buy a tortoise (or other animals like parrots and some big lizards) that it is a very long time commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
http://www.chelonia.org/articles/sulcatacare.htm
Becky

From: Jessica, Subject: Injured Gopher Tortoise, Date: October 16, 2012
Where can you take an injured gopher tortoise in Escambia County, AL? Also, will you get in trouble for simply transporting it to a rehabilitator?
Thanks!       JM

Hi JM,
Here are a couple of ideas:
This is the website for a wildlife rehabilitator in Escambia County. It looks like they mostly deal in domestic animals, but if they won’t take the tortoise, you could ask them for suggestions.
http://www.kirbysrescuehaven.com/
It looks like, from your email address, that you are associated with Auburn. Here is a number that you can call at their biology department and they may also be able to help you.
(334) 844-9232
If neither of those options work out, call your local Animal Control and see what they say.
If nothing works, write me back and we will make another plan.
Thanks,       Becky

From: wildhorses117, Date: October 17, 2012, Subject: {found in unsafe place}
Hi! I work in Winter Park/Orlando FL and found a gopher tortoise out back at my office/work its a about 10-12 inches, most of the yard out back is gravel and it goes right out to a street out front. Would it have a burrow somewhere close, I have him in a box right now, im not sure what to do. I understand it is illegal to transport them or relocate them, I just want to make sure to do the right thing for the tortoise as I dont want it to get hit by a car. What should I do?

Try to find a burrow around there. If there are no burrows nearby, it is possible that someone else picked it up and moved it already. You could take the tortoise to a local wildlife rehabilitator or call Animal Control and see what they suggest. You could also contact your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (web address below) and explain the situation.
http://myfwc.com/about/inside-fwc/ne/
Write me back if you need assistance.       Becky

From: Maiya, Subject: Reproduction for Desert Tortoises, Date: October 11, 2012
Hello! My desert tortoises had 8 babies last year. This year however, we have not found any yet and I am starting to get worried because I really want to find some. My tortoise, Bamboo, is about 7-8 years old, same with my tortoise Little Lady. Little Lady(the female) has not been coming out very much in the past few months, and even if she does, it usually is for only a very short amount of time. However, Bamboo(the male) is very active and I often see him when I am outside. Their den is only a few feet deep and I think it turns to the right (where I think the eggs are). A few days ago, I found my tortoises mating, which worries me even more about there being no babies. However, yesterday I saw a lot of birds in the tortoise habitat around 8 in the morning. But now Bamboo and Little lady are not coming out of their hole and are just sitting in there all day. Little Lady is behind Bamboo, almost as if Bamboo is protecting her. I tried to get the out with food but they would not come out. It rained this morning and has been cloudy and a bit windy all day. Are there any signs that they do have babies or if the babies are about to hatch or are there signs of anything else. Please tell me all you can about these things and if I will become a "grandmother" soon!

Hi,
I work with gopher tortoises, and even though they are in the same genus as desert tortoises (Gopherus), they are very different creatures. Please go to the Desert Tortoise Council website (address below) and contact them with your questions.

      http://www.deserttortoise.org/
Feel free to write back if you have any problems.       Becky

From: Rabbit, Subject: Gopher Tortoise Shell, Date: October 8, 2012
I found a Gopher Tortoise shell on a relatives land. It looked like it had died of natural causes and all of the insides had been eaten away by insects. I was wondering, since they are protected, is it illegal for me to possess the shell?
Regards,       Joel

Hi Joel,
What state do you live in? The laws are not the same everywhere.
Becky

From: Cindy, Subject: bucket trap, Date: October 4, 2012
Hi, I’m hoping you can give me some advice. Someone placed a bucket trap in the empty lot next door to me where I know at least one gopher tortoise is living. He did not have any kind of uniform on or official markings on his pick-up truck so I’m concerned it isn’t being done legally. Are bucket traps generally used for capturing and transporting gopher tortoises to a new home? The lot sold over a year ago and no one has built on the land yet but I’m thinking they may be illegally capturing the tortoise so that they can build on it.
The trap is basically a big hold in the ground with a 10 gallon bucket placed in it with foliage overtop of that.
Should I call the Florida wildlife people?
Thanks for your help,       Cindy

Hi Cindy,
Yes, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They have a Wildlife Alert hotline you can call and get immediate action. The trapping may be completely legitimate if the owners have a permit and are relocating the tortoise before they build on the property. If they don’t have a permit, they are breaking the law. Have the property address ready when you contact them.
      Wildlife Alert Program - 888-404-FWCC (3922)
Thank you,       Becky

From: Akasnakelv, Subject: injured tortoise, Date: September 29, 2012
My neighbor has brought a GT that was hit by a car, and the shell is very damaged. I am hoping to treat it and then release it back to the same area. What is the best way, and can the shell be repaired? He has one quarter size chunk missing, and the shell is cracked almost all the way across his rear quarter. I have been told that once treated I should be able to fiberglass the shell! Any help would be greatly appreciated, I would hate to see him perish because of this!Thank You,       Darren

Dear Darren,
It is illegal for you to treat the tortoise. Besides that, because it has a damaged shell, it is imperative that you get it to a vet or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The shell is an outgrowth of the tortoise’s bones and the animal will need a round of antibiotics if you want it to live.
If you don’t know where to take it, please write me back with your city and state and I will help you find somewhere.
Thank you,       Becky

From: David, Subject: Odd behavior, Date: September 25, 2012
I live in Gopher Tortoise Central; there are literally hundreds of burrows located around the upland area of a preserve our property is located on. This information comes from the guys that are doing tortoise surveys for the county, due to restoration projects the county is engaged in on the preserve.
The preserve came after the purchase of our property.
I have only altered about .5 acre of the five acres to build our house and have left the rest natural for the prior occupants of the land: deer, gophers, coral snakes, rattle snakes, rat snakes, black racers, frogs, toads, fox squirrels, rabbits, hawks, owls, etc.
A couple of the tortoise’s don’t pay much attention to us when we’re in the same vicinity, it’s as though they have learned we are not a threat and go on about their business, but for the most part the rest of the tortoise’s retreat to their holes, or move along when they see us coming.
We have become very concerned about a particular tortoise’s activity as of late. First off he was never one of the sociable ones; however he sometimes has an appetite for our St. Augustine lawn around the house. Now if we run into one another he just stays put, and sometimes he'll withdraw into his shell. He wanders around very slowly, he still has a good appetite, but a lot of times after eating he’ll just stop and stay in the same spot for a long while.
He’s quit using his burrow, but neither do any other tortoises. I went to look at it over the weekend, and it hasn’t been cleaned out for a while.
He will wander around close to our house (something he never did), in the evening until it’s almost dark, and then go find a close place and dig out a small hole (usually next to a tree) and get about the front third of himself in there and spend the night. He won’t come out until about 10-11am.
I wonder if he is just getting old, he seems to be acting like a feeble old man; I don’t see any other signs of distress, disease, or injury.
Thank You,       David

Hi David,
That is a very interesting way to act. He may be old, or it may be temperature/humidity related. As long as he is eating and moving around, then hopefully he is ok. Watch for wheezing and runny nose and/or swollen eyelids. Please write me back if you start seeing any of those signs consistently.
Becky

From: Crystal, Subject: Kennedy [keep in Mississippi?], Date: September 18, 2012
I found a gopher turtle in a hole. Is it legal to keep one in Mississippi. I live in Columbia.

No, you cannot keep it. Gopher tortoises are legally protected in every state where they naturally occur. Please just enjoy it from a distance. If you already took it, please take it back to where you found it immediately and release it.
Feel free to write me back if you have questions or need more information.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Sammie, Subject: Tortoise permit?, Date: September 24, 2012
Hi. We were out looking for tortoises to buy several years ago. Hoping for a Russian tortoise. However, we were lucky enough who stumbled upon this man who was trying to give away his baby tortoise. He said he got it from a small shelter down in Missouri. He said he was a traveler and only took the little guy with him because he it was sick and the people were about to euthanize it since it could no longer be released back in the wild, to prevent other tortoises from getting contaminated as well. It was only est. 2-3 months old. So we got it from him after a couple years of him owning it. He said he was positive it was a sulcata tortoise, so we believed it. But just 1 year after getting him, he began to look like a gopher... We brought him to a animal shelter and said to put him back in the wild, but they said it is too late, since he has those germs of being captive could spread to the wild tortoises. This little dude is around 4-5? Now, and the animal shelter said the only thing they can do is, again, euthanize, if we didn't want it. But if we want it we need a permit, they said plus, it would be a shame for us to give him to them, cause he was so happy with us for these long years. So we decided to spare his life and promise to keep him forever, we a companion anyway (; do you know where I can sign up for one? I need a permit to keep him, I'm too attached to him now and he wouldn't even leave my side, he follows me everywhere!! Please give me advice ASAP. Thank you. Sammmie.

Hi Sammie,
Sounds like a lucky tortoise! Will you email me some pictures so I can try to identify what kind or tortoise it is for sure? Put something in the pictures that will help me tell how big it is.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Brandi, September 24, 2012, Subject: Re: Found gopher tortoise in yard [dog] - 2
The tortoise, who we have found is a male, has figured out some beautiful timing and seems to know when the dogs are out. So when they are in he comes out from his burrow and munches.

That is great! Just keep an eye on them. I think the dogs will eventually get bored. Tortoises aren’t particularly exciting. J
Thanks,       Becky

From: Brandi, Subject: Found gopher tortoise in yard [dog], Date: April 20, 2012
Hi, we found a gopher tortoise in our backyard and she's dug a shallow burrow. I know it's best to leave them where they're found, but we have a large German shepherd who has tried to play with her. She doesn't harm the tortoise, but the dog will flip the tortoise onto its back, which I know causes stress for it. I live in savannah ga. Thanks, concerned turtle/tortoise lover.

Hello,
You have some options. You could try to train your dog to leave the tortoise alone. My dogs used to bark at them for a week or two, but then would get bored and not bother them anymore. Shepherds are usually pretty smart so maybe you could teach her not to touch the tortoise. You could block access to that part of the yard from the dog, if your yard is large enough. The only other idea I have is to contact the GA Department of Natural Resources in your area and ask their advice. You may be able to get a permit to relocate the tortoise out of your yard.
You are right that being on its back is dangerous. If you are not around to flip it back over, it could easily get too hot or too cold, or another predator could attack it. If the dog keeps harassing it, the tortoise may decide to relocate itself if it has anywhere else to go, but I wouldn’t count on that.
Feel free to write me back if you have more questions or need further information.       Becky

From: Greg, Subject: question [foundation], Date: September 22, 2012
Hello GT expert
I'm considering buying a house and the neighbor tells me that there are GT around there, which does not bother me. What does is that maybe they are burrowing under my house slab at the front right corner. Someone before me saw the hole (I'm guessing) and completely dug out an approx. 3 ' X 4' area the find the reason for the hole. Looking into the hole, I can see another hole about 3 feet under the slab. I'm in the inspection period and am wondering if this is a GT issue or maybe something not related to a GT. Any feedback would be appreciated. I can send a pic if you'd like as I'm heading to the house today to ask around the neighbors again.
Thanks!       Greg

Hi Greg,
Sorry I missed seeing your message before you went to the house. If you could email me a picture, that would be helpful. I am not sure how that hole would impact your inspection.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Erin, Subject: Sick Baby Gopher Tortoise, Date: September 16, 2012
Hello,
Earlier this afternoon around 12 pm I found a baby gopher, about 1/12-2 inches, knowing its illegal to posses them I left it there until around 4 pm when I saw it had not moved from it’s spot. I took her with me and she seems sick and I think she has URTD, I say this because her eyes are shut minus a 1/4 opened eye, they look swollen with a little little amount of a crust in one eye which she has barely open, she’s coughed up a semi-clear mucus twice (only when placed in lukewarm water,) and seems to be wheezing (no noise unless she coughs up mucus, and she pushes through her legs somewhat as she wheezes.)
She’s drank some lukewarm water that I have provided for her but has not eaten. I have her in a box with grass and have a small microwavable heating pad covered in a towel to keep her warm. She burrows in the towel closest to the heat so I’ve left her be unless I am checking up on her. She seems to be doing better then when I first saw her but I wanted to know whether or not to let nature take its course, send her to the wildlife services, or try to continue helping her with what I’m doing. She’s already grown on me and I’d hate to see her pass on. Also, is this disease contagious to humans? Please get back to me as soon as possible, thank you!

Hi,
I often see and hear about hatchlings and very young juvenile tortoises that have swollen, shut eyes. Not sure it is URTD, but it is some illness or condition. If you have a wildlife rehabilitator in your area that will treat it, I would take it there. You could keep it, but not legally without a permit, and there would be all sorts of problems for it if you had it in captivity for a while and then released it.
If you want to take it to a rehab and can’t find one, send me your city and state and I will try to help.
URTD is not contagious to humans.       Becky

From: bonnie, Date: September 11, 2012, Subject: [protected?]
Are they protected?

Gopher tortoises are legally protected in every state where they occur. In the western portion of their range, they are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. In the eastern portion (including Florida), they are protected by the individual states, but are a candidate species for federal listing. Protection means that they cannot be interfered with, harassed, or held in captivity, and their habitat cannot be disturbed or developed without permits from the appropriate regulating agency.
Feel free to write back if you have any more questions.       Becky

From: heinz, Subject: gopher turtle in my backyard, Date: September 8, 2012
hi rebecca
following the advice of wildlife we did not touch the gopher.
the gopher is about 11 in "long" it has 2 caves in my backyard. one next to a palm tree and the second unterneath the slap of my poolequipment, poolpump aso
. the slap is about 4 x 3 ft and 4 inch thick. after a heavy rain the slap is down on one side approx 3 inch and the gopher is not seen since 9/6.
can we do anything ???? or do we have a dead turtle somewhere underneath the slap ??? any suggestions ???
my phone is 321 725 1948 thanks in advance       heinz

Hello Heinz,
Gopher tortoises are like small bulldozers. I am confident that the tortoise is not dead in the hole, but has probably moved to higher ground. It may be back when things dry out, or it may decide that wasn’t the best choice of burrow sites and go somewhere else.
Becky

From: Sandra, Subject: sulcata tortoises, Date: September 8, 2012
Do you have any sulcata tortoises that have been rescued?
Thank You       Sandra

Hi Sandra,
I do not have access to any sulcatas, but they often need homes. Contact your local animal control and any zoos or nature centers; they often get called when someone has an unwanted sulcata. If you are considering taking one, please educate yourself first. Sulcatas are not easy pets and you need to know what you are in for.
Becky

From: Peter, Subject: Amelia island tortoise, Date: September 7, 2012
On the beach today I watched this tortoise enter the surf and get washed around and flipped on his back. I thought he was stuck so I “rescued” him and put him back up the beach about 20 feet from the surf. He went right back in and made it out a ways and was floating and swimming around. He got washed down the beach about 100 yards and some other folks pulled him out
I saw him an hour later probably 200 yards from the beach on the road.
Same turtle because of his size and he had wet sand still stuck to his back.
Is this unusual ?
It was a young tortoise.
Peter

I have seen gopher tortoises body surfing and have had other people send me pictures. It might not be all that common, but it certainly happens. The tortoises probably get frustrated with us pulling them out over and over. J
Becky

From: Ahmad, Date: September 1, 2012, Subject [Betadine]
Can i use betadine on my turtle?

Yes, topically.       Becky

From: JR, Subject: Get rid of turtles, Date: September 2, 2012
We have several in our yard, what's the best way to catch them and then where would I put them?

Gopher tortoises are a legally protected species. You cannot catch them or move them without a permit from the appropriate regulatory agency. If you tell me your city and state, I will give you the information for who to contact if you want to try to get a permit.
M. Rebecca Bolt

From: bullpin451, Subject: Dead Gopher Tortoise, Date: September 2, 2012
My wife and I enjoyed watching the GT move about the yard feeding.Walking the property the other day my wife found the GT dead.It head and legs were torn off and just laying there.What would kill this and not eat it.The shell was empty accept for small bits of meat.
Thanks,       Stan & Donna

injured gopher tortoise

Dear Stan and Donna,
I am sorry. That is sad. It is really hard to say what would have killed the tortoise. It may have been grazed by a car and managed to crawl away from the road before it died, but the shell probably would have been more damaged. Disease is a more realistic possibility. Because tortoises are cold-blooded reptiles and their metabolisms are slow, they can be sick for a long time before finally succumbing. It might have just been old and died. The shell was likely “cleaned out” by scavengers after the tortoise was already dead.
The dings in its shell are past wounds and look healed. I would suspect it either got hit with pellets from a bb gun or debris from a lawn mower at some point in its life.
Feel free to write back if you have other questions.       Becky

From: Jay & Connie, Subject: found two baby turtles and one unhatched egg, Date: August 27, 2012
What kinds of vegetation do baby turtles eat?
Dog found and ate other eggs. Will they survive if I drop them down anther hold where the dog cannot harm them?

Please take the hatchlings and place them into a burrow that your dogs cannot get. Do this as soon as possible.
Write back if you have questions or need more information.       Becky

From: Dorian, Subject: spur thigh tortoise, Date: August 30, 2012
I have a 50 lb spur thigh tortoise that I have to find a GOOD home for...can you help? Can you take her? She is healthy and friendly..I don't want to give her away but I have to move...please help us. Plz call me at 941.549.5495 or email me back.Thanks,       Dorian

Hi Dorian,
Here are some options:
The Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) group has a website (www.IveGot1.org) and a hotline (1-888-483-4681). They are knowledgeable and should be able to help you place the tortoise, maybe with an educational facility. Another possibility is the Calusa Herpetological Society (
http://www.calusaherp.org/). Check out their website; it’s pretty impressive and herp society folks are typically very helpful with these sorts of problems.
Look into those and write me back if nothing works out. We can try to come up with Plan B. Actually, write me back either way, just so I know what happened.
Good luck,       Becky

From: Jay & Connie, Subject: found two baby turtles and one unhatched egg, Date: August 27, 2012
What kinds of vegetation do baby turtles eat?
Dog found and ate other eggs. Will they survive if I drop them down anther hold where the dog cannot harm them?

Please take the hatchlings and place them into a burrow that your dogs cannot get. Do this as soon as possible.
Write back if you have questions or need more information.
Becky

From: Rainie, Subject: question about baby gopher tortoise [& dog], Date: August 27, 2012
My dog brought in a small gopher tortoise that was in my back yard. It is unharmed but this is the 3rd time she has brought it in. I do have a fence around my yard but the tortoises have always burrowed right on the line underneath and go in my yard or out they can also come in under my gate. There are not many places in the neighborhood for them to go other than my back yard. I've never interferred with their burrows at all but am concerned if this little one goes back out my dog is going to end up hurting it. What can I do?
Thank you,       Rainie Meyers

Hi Rainie,
This is a tough one. Have you put the tortoise back in the same place each time? If so, you might try releasing it in a burrow as far as you can (around your yard) from where you have been putting it. Unfortunately, tortoises work on instinct and not intelligence, so it is probably not going to learn to stay away from your dog. The only other thing I can suggest is trying to train your dog to leave the tortoises alone.
Becky

From: Ahmad, Date: August 27, 2012, Subject: [Red eared slider care]
Why is my turtle always scrub its head?
Can i feed my small red eared slider small tomato?

Here are some red-eared slider care sheet links. They have lots of information about diet and housing. If there is a health problem (which may be why it is always rubbing its head), following these care sheets may help take care of it.
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm
http://www.petco.com/assets/caresheets/turtles/red-eared-slider.pdf
http://exoticpets.about.com/od/aquaticturtles/tp/resguide.htm
Write me back if you have more questions after you look at the sheets.       Becky

From: Sam, Subject: gopher tortoise eggs, Date: August 27, 2012
We live in SW Fla. Do our gopher tortoise species have hard or soft eggs? I thought most reptile eggs were soft. Thanks, Pam

Hi Pam,
There are varying degrees of hardness/softness in reptile eggs. Alligator eggs are quite hard, sea turtles are soft, snakes are soft. Gopher tortoise eggs are pretty hard.
Write back if you have more questions.       Becky

From: Lisa, Subject: Baby gopher tortoise [keep safe], Date: August 26, 2012A baby gopher tortoise
My daughter found a baby gopher tortoise yesterday. Our chickens were pecking at it. It looks newly hatched. It's eyes are not open. We are big animal lovers and want to the right thing. Is there someone we should contact to take care of this endangered species. There is a turtle burrow on our property. Please advise us. Right now we have it in a container in a safe place in the barn. It is warm and has sandy soil, water, and native Florida plants in with it.
Thank you.

The best thing to do would be release it into the burrow as soon as possible. There may be an adult tortoise using the burrow, but hatchlings often use adult burrows until they dig their own.
Write back if this won’t work for some reason or you need more information.       Becky

From: Ahmad, Subject: Can my turtle eat cuttlebone that i bought from market? (fresh cuttlebone), Date: August 23, 2012
Can i give my turtle fresh cuttlebone

Cuttlebone is typically used for birds to keep their beaks trimmed and provide calcium. I don’t see why it would harm a turtle if it wants to peck at it.
Becky

From: Ahmad, Date: August 23, 2012, Subject: Tortoise [training]
My tortoise is very hard to train?

Tortoises are reptiles and do not have very large or complex brains. They work on instinct, not intelligence. You might be able to get the tortoise to respond to food stimuli, but it is not ever going to do tricks or poop in a particular spot.
I must also tell you that gopher tortoises are legally protected and are not to be kept as pets without a permit. If you have some other kind of tortoise that you got from a legitimate source, that is fine. If you need assistance figuring out what you have, please write me back.
Becky

From: Laura, Date: August 19, 2012, Subject: Owning a gopher tortoise
We recently went to purchase what we thought was a African sulcata tortoise. It turns out it was not an African but a gopher tortoise. We did not buy her but did rescue her. Now the question is it legal to possess them in the state of Florida

Hi,
It is illegal to keep the tortoise without a permit. I would suggest you contact your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and tell them what occurred. If someone is out there picking up tortoises and selling them, that is seriously illegal and needs to be stopped. Here are links to the FWC tortoise page that will tell you about regulations and applying for a permit, and to the district offices map so you can contact your office. There is a wildlife hotline that you can call and remain anonymous if that makes reporting the incident more comfortable for you.

http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/gopher-tortoise/
http://myfwc.com/contact/contact-fwc-staff/regional-offices/
Please do report that you were able to buy a gopher tortoise and give them as much detail as you can. I dislike getting people into trouble, but many tortoises could be removed from the wild and that is not good.
Feel free to write back if you need more information or have questions.       Becky

From: Stephanie, Date: August 15, 2012, Subject: HELP!!!! I found a gopher tortoise baby in need!!
I found my small dog yelling on the porch tonight when I went out to see what was wrong I found in his mouth a small baby gopher tortoise in his mouth. When he released the baby tortoise I immediately took the tortoise inside and found he was bleeding a small bit on his bottom shell. looking closely it looks like he either has small puncture holes from my dogs teeth or maybe his lower shell is cracked a little. But I am not sure. I am wondering is this baby tortoise going to live for me to be able to take him to the wildlife rescue center in my area tomorrow when they open or not? Please let me soon!!! Thanks Stephanie

Hi Stephanie,
I just saw this email this morning. If you still have the tortoise, please take it to a rehabber as soon as possible.
Let me know if you have questions or need more information.       Becky

From: Brent, Date: August 16, 2012, Subject: 2 headed gopher turtle/tortoise
Dear Becky,
I saw the post about the two headed gopher turtle/tortoise and was wondering what happened. Did Gary give you the tort or not? Do you know if it is still alive today? I would very much like to know if you have any updated information about it. Thank you and have a good day. Brent

Hi Brent,
That was many years ago. I asked the person that sent the picture if I could have it, but never heard anything back. It probably didn’t live very long.
Becky

From: Danny, Date: June 14, 2012, Subject: Gopher tortoise holes, possums, and persimmon trees
Hi, I'm resending this in case it didn't go through last time since someone else said they didn't receive an email from me. It's kind of a time sensitive question because those persimmon tree seedlings are past the time to be put in the ground. --Wow, what great timing I found your site. You see, I started 50 persimmon seeds this spring and 35 of them are 4 inches tall and ready to be transplanted. I originally was going to just space them out among our 3 and a third acres to help the wildlife, but then I read that possums will eat gopher tortoise eggs and we have 5 to 15 gopher tortoise burrows back there in various states of use. I hear persimmon is a possum magnet and is even known as possum wood. Should I avoid planting all these persimmon trees so I don't attract possums that might eat gopher tortoise eggs? Is it even true they eat gopher tortoise eggs? How big a problem is it?
Thanks for your advice!       Danny

Hi Danny,
I answered this quite a while ago (months?), so I hope you receive the answer this time. Please write me back and let me know that you got it or I will try again next week.
I would go ahead and plant the trees. Even if possums come in to eat the persimmons, the tortoises will eat persimmons, too. Hopefully, when the persimmons are gone, the possums will move on and not bother the tortoises. I am sure that if the eggs are uncovered and on top of the ground, possums would eat them, but I have never actually seen a tortoise nest depredated by possums. Usually raccoons or dogs dig them up.
The best thing you can do is keep the vegetation under the trees short and accessible to the tortoises.
Becky

From: velma, Subject: Gopher in Texas, Date: August 8, 2012
I found a gopher turtle and I was wondering if its Illegal to keep him? Were gonna find a refuge to take him to but I was just curious. Thank you!

It is illegal to keep a gopher tortoise. It is also illegal to remove it from the wild. I suggest you take it back where you found it and release it out of harm’s way. If there is some reason you cannot do that, please write me back.
Becky

From: Silvrfaux, Subject: GopherTortoise/DukeEnergy-Util.Esmt/Herbicide Applications, Date: August 10, 2012
Hello,
I am a resident of Casselberry, FL, relocating 2 years ago from Tallahassee.
Our rental property extends to the newly acquired Duke Energy utility easment. Duke Energy is in the process of removal of trees, undergrowth along the utility easement.
We were notified a week ago of the Vegetative Management staff that Duke Energy will clear the utility easement of large trees, bushes, undergrowth. Staff did mark our area's gopher tortoise burrows with red flags. There is heavy equipment to cut down and chip the trees/haul vegetative matter away.
My question is what is the research of herbicide spraying near gopher tortoise burrows and vegetative matter nearby which they feed on?
Thank-you for your help.
Marsha Weaver, Casselberry FL

Hi Marsha,
The herbicides that they use probably would not harm a tortoise. However, if they kill all of the food resources in the area, it will indirectly impact the animals and potentially extirpate the population from that area. If there is no suitable habitat for them to relocate to in the nearby vicinity, the population could eventually die out. This is the main problem with herbiciding, whether it is in utility corridors, ditches, fields, etc. Just because the poison doesn’t directly kill the animals, if there is no food left, what is the difference?
Maybe you could ask Duke to do chunks of the corridor at a time, leaving some areas with grass for the tortoises to eat in between the cleared areas. They could go back later and do the spots they missed after the grass has regrown in the original spots.
Becky

From: Cara, Subject: Sharing Our Yard, Date: August 10, 2012
We've noticed a rather large gopher turtle has dug it's way into our yard under some mulch. It's a pretty deep hole! Our neighbors have two in their yard and say they see them walking around in the early morning. There's no construction or developments where we are (Outskirts of Dade City, FL) so is there any reason for a group of them to relocate to our area? I enjoy having it and would love to provide a safe environment.

Hi,
I am so happy that you are happy with your new neighbor. So many times, people are upset that a tortoise has moved in and want to get rid of it. It is very difficult to say why you might be having an influx of tortoises. Even if nothing obvious has happened (obvious to us humans anyway), changes to the groundwater or microclimate where they were living before might cause them to go looking for more suitable spots.
I have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote that you will probably find interesting. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only (and you can share with your neighbor).
Feel free to write back if you have other questions or want more information.       Becky

From: Leola, Subject: gopher baby [grow], Date: August 13, 2012
How fast do they grow from being a baby to an adult years wise?
LEOLA

Hi Leola,
How fast a tortoise grows and matures is dependent on where it is located. Because tortoises are reptiles and cold-blooded, they will grow faster in warmer climates than in cooler ones. Generally, at around age 5, they will be 6 inches or so long and their shell will become hard. At that point, they are not so vulnerable to being eaten. Sexual maturity happens between 15 and 20 years. At that time, they will be 10 – 12 inches long and considered an adult.
Feel free to write back if you have other questions or need more information.       Becky

From: JOE, Subject: African spur thigh tortoise, Date: August 13, 2012
Hello Becky,
What should be done when one of these are found in the wild.
Can they cause a problem ecologically.
If so why are they legal to import considering they are almost guaranteed to end up in the wild due to their size and nature.
I live in New Port Richey Florida and have seen these a couple of times in our local parks where the Gopher tortoise is prevalent.
Thank you       Joe

Hi Joe,
Those are all excellent questions. The problem is that the pet industry only regulates the purchase and ownership of a few venomous snakes; everything else is pretty much a free-for-all. Anyone can go into a pet store or reptile fair and buy a tortoise without any education or proof that they have the means to take care of it.
They can cause ecological problems because they will compete with native tortoises for food and they dig huge holes. If you see spur-thighs, you can pick them up and take them to your local animal control facility. Many zoos have stopped taking them because there are so many. If you have a local herp club (amphibian and reptile enthusiasts), they might be interested in taking them or could help place them.
Feel free to write me back if you have other questions or need more information.       Becky

From: Joan, Subject: Two tortoises in the same burrow ???, Date: August 4, 2012
I am a dog/cat rescuer and know very little about turtles/tortoises. We’ve had a burrow in our back yard for years that goes underneath our fence into the orange grove next door. I have never seen a turtle in or around it.
Today, a gopher came down my (150’) driveway and tried to dig under the gate, so I opened the gate and let him in. He made his way to the back of the property as if he knew where he was going, so I opened the gate to the back yard where the burrow is and he went right to it. I thought I’d done a good deed by making his path easy.
Next thing I see is another gopher coming out of the burrow hissing at the new gopher. I can’t tell them apart. I have no idea if the one who arrived today belongs here, or if he just happened upon our property and I unknowingly guided him to another gopher’s home. When I went down to check on him, I scared him and now they are both in the same burrow, but I’m worried that this may be a bad thing.
Should I just leave them alone? By nature, I want to help any creature that needs help – and fix it if I did something wrong. But because I know nothing about these guys, I don’t know what to do – if anything.
Could they potentially harm each other?       Joan

Hi Joan,
My advice is to let them work things out on their own. Unless your fence is buried beneath ground level, they can dig out whenever they please. From our radiotracking data, we know that tortoises often share burrows. One of them may move on, or they may both have burrows in your yard or the grove next door.
Just watch and enjoy. Feel free to write me back if you have any more questions.
Becky

From: Blue Ocean, Subject: More and more coming!!, Date: August 4, 2012
I have spent all afternoon reading your site. It truly is fascinating!! My husband and I live in port saint Lucie. 6 years ago I noticed a gopher tortoise coming in and out of the empty lot next door. I named him Arthur. I loved watching him and have rescued him from neighbor kids trying to "give him water" with a hose! I write today because we now have 5 additional burrows between the lot and our backyard. I love them, but my question is, am I to expect more? Did Arthur send out an all clear call that it's safe? And secondly, I haven't fed them but am thinking of planting some food plants for them so they maybe don't wander so far off the property looking for food so I can keep a better eye on them. What do you think? Thank you so much,       Jessica.

Hi Jessica,
Your yard and the lot next door may be getting an influx of tortoises from nearby areas that are either getting developed or becoming unsuitable. It is impossible to say how many tortoises may show up there, but it will depend on how much food and room for burrows is available. Planting some food is a great idea. I have attached a chapter from a workbook that should help you. This is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
Write back if you have other questions. Arthur is a lucky tortoise! Thank you.       Becky

From: hghjim, Subject: Temperature, Date: August 3, 2012
Hello ,
I am trying to find out what the temperatures are of a gopher tortoise burrow.
any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You       Jim

Hi Jim,
Several studies have been done to determine burrow temperatures. Of course, the temperature in the burrow depends on the temperature outside the burrow, so where you are and the season will affect the temperatures that you get. In different parts of Florida, the average low temperatures were between 57 and 64 degrees and the average high temperatures were 74 to 88 degrees. No burrow was ever cooler than 54 degrees.
This information came from a book called “The Natural History and Management of Gopher Tortoises” by Ray and Pat Ashton. It is very comprehensive and available for sale. You might want to check it out.
Becky

From: Stephanie, Subject: Gopher Tortoise permits, Date: August 3, 2012
I have been looking into the types of permits that are needed to legally keep a gopher tortoise for the Education Department here at Dothan's Landmark Park in Dothan Alabama and I have been unable to find one that actually permits someone to keep a gopher tortoise permanently. We have an Eastern Indigo Snake that we use for our endangered species program and we would really love to have a gopher tortoise as well. Do you have any knowledge about what it would require for the park to keep one or where I could go to find this information? Any assistence that you could provide would be very appreciated.
Thank you,       Stephanie, Teacher/Naturalist

Hi Stephanie,
I am not familiar with the laws in Alabama, but I will forward your question to the Alabama representative to the Gopher Tortoise Council. If you don’t hear from him in a few days, write me back.       Becky

From: Prudence, Subject: dead tortoise, Date: July 29, 2012
Hi Becky -
I am quite distressed today. I have 6 burrows on about 3 acres outside Gainesville FL. This is the second tortoise I have found dead on my property. The shells appeared to be crushed and I am wondering if they were hit by a car and tried to make it back to their burrow. I have a large dog, but do not think he would have killed them. they were both about a foot in length. The first one I found dead was in early june. Is there some other animal that is considered their predator?
thanks Prudence

Hi Prudence,
Yes, I agree. That is disturbing. Unless your dog is huge and can fit a shell inside its mouth, I don’t see how it could crush it. Typically when dogs or coyotes kill tortoises, they puncture the shell with their canines and the tortoise bleeds to death relatively intact. It is possible that a tortoise that was hit by a car would try to return to the nearest burrow. It is also possible that something killed the tortoises (disease, your dog or other canine, etc.) and then the shell was crushed by scavengers after the tortoise was dead. Were the shells fresh (skin and scutes, smelly) or old (bleached white, falling apart)? If you could email me any pictures, it might help me figure out what happened.
Becky

From: clevelndkid, Subject: Gopher eggs, Date: July 26, 2012, Where does the female gopher lay her eggs from? What part of her shell do the come out of? Thanks       Dennis

Hi Dennis,
Gopher tortoises typically dig a hole for their eggs in the sandy mound in front of a burrow. The eggs come out of their body through a hole at the base of the tale called the cloaca.
Feel free to write me back if you have more questions.       Becky

From: Amy, Subject: Is this a Gopher?, Date: July 23, 2012
Hi Becky,Gopher tortoise?
I’ve looked thoroughly at your site and still need some help. While I was away on vacation our pet sitter found this turtle in the backyard, the dogs were trying to play with it. We live in Pace, FL outside of Pensacola. We have lived in this house for four years and have never seen a wild turtle in the neighborhood or our yard. At the time I had no idea FL had a protected tortoise. We were pretty sure from the pictures it wasn’t a box turtle.
I’m hoping you can tell me if it truly is a Gopher Tortoise from the pictures?
We have been caring for it in a container full of dirt and sand with some water and vegetation. We showed the pictures to a zookeeper and he told us it is a yellow footed tortoise, this is mainly why we have been caring for it. We know the yellow foots are not native to here so we assumed it was someone’s pet they got rid of. He’s a really friendly little guy and still pretty small, maybe 5 inches.
We already have two river cooters so adding another turtle to the family didn’t phase us. While in the local feed and seed today I mentioned the turtle and one local guy said it could be the Gopher. Until today I’ve never heard of the Gopher tortoise, so since I have been home I have been scouring the internet trying to figure out if he is a gopher.
We don’t mind adding him to the family but if he is a gopher we don’t mind releasing him either. However, releasing him in my backyard where he was found isn't an option due to the dogs. We live in a busy neighborhood and almost everyone surrounding us has dogs.
Please let me know what you think so I know how to proceed next. He is very friendly and eats well, another reason I thought he was a pet. It is really hard to tell from pictures on the internet if he is a gopher. He does look a lot like the yellow foot too. Hopefully from these pictures you can give me a direction to go.
Thanks so much!       Blessings,       Amy

Hi Amy,
This looks like a gopher tortoise to me. Yellow-foot tortoises have a higher domed shell and more color on their legs and face. The best thing would be to release him near where you found him if there is any habitat around. If you don’t think that is a good idea, I would look for a wildlife rehabilitator or other facility to take him. If you cannot find somewhere, write me back with your county and city and I will try to help.
Becky

From: Michael & Lisa, Subject: Gopher tortoise in the NE GA mountains, Date: July 23, 2012
Hello. My husband & I discovered a gopher tortoise yesterday near our home. We live in Hiawassee, GA (extreme NE GA). I know we're supposed to let him go, but I worry about him surviving the winter here. Can he survive the winter here? We've lived here our entire lives, as have our parents & we have never seen a gopher tortoise here. I know they are not native to the mountains here. Someone must have brought him up from FL. I just want to make sure he can survive before I take him to the woods. Thank you!
Gopher tortoises have populations all the way up into South Carolina. I suggest you let him go soon so he can get acclimated and dig some burrows before the cold sets in. Your other option is to find someone to take him, like a wildlife rehabilitator, nature center, etc. You might call the Georgia DNR and ask their advice.
Becky

Hi,
No, the mother tortoise will not harm the juvenile. Tortoises don’t take care of their young or eggs, but they don’t intentionally hurt or kill them either. If you have the juvenile, take it to the adult’s burrow and release it; it will be safe there.
Beck
y

From: Lee Anne, Subject: Is this a Gopher Tortoise?, Date: July 17, 2012
My friend found this tortoise in her front yard. She lives in North Carolina. It looks like a gopher tortoise to me, but she claims it is about 3 ft long. I don't think it is that big (I'm in Jacksonville, FL) What do you think?

Gopher tortoise?Your friend is right. It’s not a gopher tortoise, but a young African spur-thigh tortoise. They are not native to this continent, but are popular in the pet trade. Unfortunately, many times when people buy them, they don’t do their homework first, so they don’t realize what they are getting into with this animal. It is the second largest tortoise species in the world, will grow to several hundred pounds, and digs huge holes in the yard. Once this starts happening, the “pets” often either escape or are released by irresponsible owners.
If your friend still has the tortoise, please ask her to find someone to take it, such as a wildlife rehabilitator, a zoo, nature center, etc. It likely would not survive the winter in North Carolina. If she thinks she might want to keep it, please advise her to get all the information she can before making that decision.
Feel free to write me back or give your friend my email if you have any more questions or concerns.
Becky

From: 9416268238, Subject: I touched it, Date: July 16, 2012
I found a very young gopher tortoise today and touched it before I knew what it was. Will the mother kill it because I touched it?? The mother lives in my back yard I think. I've seen an adult in a burrow back there.

Hi,
No, the mother tortoise will not harm the juvenile. Tortoises don’t take care of their young or eggs, but they don’t intentionally hurt or kill them either. If you have the juvenile, take it to the adult’s burrow and release it; it will be safe there.       Becky

From: James, Subject: Yard as preserve?, Date: July 13, 2012, We live in Estero, near the Estero River. We have 16 dens on our 1 1/4 acres and lots of activity. Can private homes be designated as preserves? Are there then restrictions on what we can build on the property? Is there a tax benefit or any subsidy for declaring a preserve? Jim Berger

Hi Jim,
All of those questions should be answered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (web address: http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/gopher-tortoise/).
Feel free to write me back if you need more information after you have looked at the website and perhaps contacted them.       Becky

From: Regina, Subject: Turtle - 7/2012, Date: July 16, 2012
Could you please advise me on the gopher turtle - I've been looking at all information on these guys.
I have acquired a new pet in my front yard, not far from the foundation of my house. I understand that they do not create any damage to the foundation, but he/she has a huge hole there. I have actually seen the turtle go inside - but not out, and I am not sure if it's male or female or if it's laid eggs. At any rate - I really would like it move on & leave my lawn alone - lol. I admit - I may not have the prettiest lawn in town - but I would like to keep it looking fairly (holeless), especially since one can sprain ankle, leg - anything for that matter. Can u advise me on what to do. This is the first time one of these turtles made a home at my house. I do know they are endangered or threatened, but can't he go live elsewhere? Should I notify the Fish/Game folks or not? I reside in Port St Lucie County & appreciate your help. I love all Gods animals, but Im really not into reptiles - I also understand the burrows make great homes for snakes - yikes - along with the turtle - snakes are definitely not my thing at all. Please help
Thank you for your attention & I look forward to hearing back from you.
Regina

Hi Regina,
Contact your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (web address below) and tell them your situation. They will be able to advise you.
http://myfwc.com/about/inside-fwc/s/
Becky

From: Carlene, Subject: Found baby tortoise need help, Date: July 8, 2012

Found a baby gopher tortoise
I believe it is a Gopher but not sure. Any advise such as feeding and habitate would be good. Front and back foot seems to be injured.

It is a gopher tortoise. It is illegal for you to keep it, so you should either return it to where you found it and release it into a burrow or underneath some vegetation out of the sun, or take it to a wildlife rehabilitator if it is injured. If you need help finding some place to take it, please write me back and tell me your city and county.
While you have it, make sure it has access to water. It probably won’t eat anything, so it is important for you to let it go or get it to a rehab facility as soon as possible.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Anita, Subject: concerns about my neighbor the gopher tortoise, Date: May 26, 2012
Hi,
I was wondering if you could give me some ideas on how to feed the tortoise that lives in our horse pasture? We recently needed to disc and reseed the acreage and I'm concerned about how well this tortoise will make out in this barren pasture. Is there anything I can leave out for him to eat until the grass grows.
Thank you!       Anita

Hi Anita,
It is illegal for you to put food out for the tortoise. However, you can certainly do things in your pasture that will make it more hospitable. I have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote. It is copyrighted, so use it for your own education only, please.
Feel free to write back if you have questions or need more information.       Becky

From: Michele, Subject: Hurricanes/flooding rain, Date: June 26, 2012
If I have turtles in my yard & since a tornado went thru my yard my turtles holes are full of dirt-are they ok?! Do I dig em out?

The tortoises should easily be able to dig their way out. Give them a few days of nice weather, and if they are not out by then, write me back.
Becky

From: tinydancerwv, Subject: large gopher turtle in my backyard, Date: June 23, 2012
Fine looking gopher tortoise.
hi there,
i just moved down here to ocala, fl. and a few weeks ago i found a very large gopher turtle hanging out in my fenced in backyard. he/she was about 15' in diameter and i am not at all sure how it got in my yard but was happy to share my space with it.
i haven't seen it for a few weeks now, have walked the fence line and there are n o holes large enough for this turtle gto have gotten out....there are several failry deep burrows in and around my bushes but do not seem to lead to anywhere nor do i see any turtle in the holes.
do they bury themselves? if so, how do i find out if it is still alive, still in my yard, etc...???
not quite sure what to do....i do not want it going under my mobile home and creating a problem with any wiring and so on....so...what to do. any thoughts?
blessings,       jodey

Hi Jodey,
Unless somebody picked it up and put it in your yard, it must have a way in and out. Maybe it has moved along and you won’t see it again, or you may see it again later. It is hard to say. If it is still in your yard somewhere, the best way to figure that out is to watch on nice days in the mid-mornings and late afternoons to see if it comes out to feed. During this time of year, they will be active several times a week, if not every day, when the weather is nice. If it is still there, the best (and legal) thing to do is leave it alone and enjoy it from a distance. If someone did put it in your yard and it wants out, it is quite capable of digging under a fence.
Nice picture. That is a pretty one! Feel free to write back if you have questions.       Becky

From: Gloria, Subject: Missy and new clutch gone!, Date: June 22, 2012

Filled in burrow.
Hi Becky, I am beside myself at this moment. I was checking on new bushes we planted near our lot line that is next to the house that Missy moved to just a few months ago to lay her new clutch of eggs. It seemed quite level to what it was and upon closer examination found it to be filled in. Not sure when perhaps just days ago but I don't know if the property owner moved her and her eggs or if they just filled it in on her. No tracks anywhere to be seen and we haven't seen her at all for a week. How do I deal with this? I'm sure the eggs were not old enough to hatch yet or if Missy would have moved them herself if disturbed. My husband is livid, and is going to find out what happened from some of the men that spend allot of time in this guys hanger. I've attached the pics of her burrow when she was active in it and what it looks like now.       Gloria

Hi Gloria,
It definitely looks like the dirt was intentionally pushed over the burrow. It doesn’t seem to be real packed down, so if she is in there, she should be able to dig out. Missy would not move the eggs herself, so they were either dug up or are still there. It is possible that they could hatch, but it is hard to know if the hatchlings would be able to dig their way out of the extra dirt.
If someone moved her, they should have had a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or they were breaking the law.
Please let me know if you need any more information or if I can help.       Becky

From: Taylor, Subject: Gopher turtle {pet}, Date: June 19, 2012
My grandmothers friend found a turtle being attack by a bird and saved him . He then have the turtle to us to keep as a pet . We have had her for about 4 months or so and im just now reading and shes a gopher turtle :( i want to release her on her way but im.now emotionally attached and i feel like she wouldnt know how to survive on her own . She.lives in a glass container & we feed her all the time but she trys to climb the glass all day long so i feel bad . What do i do ? Plz email back

Hi,
Would it be possible for you to email me some pictures of the turtle so I can make sure it is a gopher tortoise? It is difficult to identify baby turtles and I would like to make sure before I give you advice.
Write me back.       Thanks,       Becky

From: sherie, Subject: egg bound, Date: June 15, 2012
Hi,
I have a large female Gopher Tortoise living in the yard. We also have a California Desert Tortoise living in the yard. He is a large male. He tries to mate with the Gopher Tortoise constantly. Now she is digging a hole with her back legs, like she is preparing an egg burrow. No eggs are being produced. Can she be egg bound? I really don't think the two different kinds of tortoises can successfully breed, but I'm not sure. Do tortoises become egg bound and what can you do to help with the problem?
Thanks,       Sherie

Hi Sherie,
How did you get a desert tortoise and a gopher tortoise in the same yard?
Typically, those two types of tortoises do not occur anywhere near each other, so they would not have the opportunity to mate. They belong to the same genus (Gopherus), but are different species, so, in theory, they should not be able to produce young.
The emale may just be going through the nesting motions because of hormones, or she may eventually lay infertile eggs. As long as she is behaving normally and eating, I would not worry that she is egg bound. However, if she stops eating or becomes lethargic, I would get her to a veterinarian that has some reptile experience.
Becky

From: Danny, Subject: Gopher tortoise holes, possums, and persimmon trees, Date: June 14, 2012
Wow, what great timing I found your site. You see, I started 50 persimmon seeds this spring and 35 of them are 4 inches tall and ready to be transplanted. I originally was going to just space them out among our 3 and a third acres to help the wildlife, but then I read that possums will eat gopher tortoise eggs and we have 5 to 15 gopher tortoise burrows back there in various states of use. I hear persimmon is a possum magnet and is even known as possum wood. Should I avoid planting all these persimmon trees so I don't attract possums that might eat gopher tortoise eggs? Is it even true they eat gopher tortoise eggs? How big a problem is it?
Thanks for your advice!       Danny

Hi Danny,
I have never seen or heard of possums digging up tortoise eggs, but possums will eat pretty much anything they can get. However, I think that if they had persimmons, they wouldn’t bother trying to find eggs. I would go ahead and plant the trees.
Feel free to write back if you have more questions, and have a good weekend.
Becky

From: Rachael, Subject: Found Nest of 12 Gopher Turtle Eggs, Date: June 13, 2012
We live near Tampa, Florida and today found 12 eggs, presumably gopher turtle eggs in a shallow hole. Some were strewn about but not cracked. What should we do to protect them from predators? Can we put them in a box or anything to help?
We have many gopher turtles in our yard also.

Because the eggs were not laid in a nest and covered, and it doesn’t appear that a predator dug them up or they would be eaten, they were probably just shed by a female. There are lots of reasons that might happen, but the eggs are most likely not any good. I would just leave them and let them be a meal for another critter.
Becky

From: 85026..., Subject: {eggs}, Date: June 13, 2012
I found a gopher turtle in my yard today and as it was walking it lay 2 eggs what should I do or how do I save them

Hi,
Sometimes, especially at the end of the breeding season, tortoises will shed eggs, meaning that they just drop them without digging a nest or covering them. There could be a number of reasons that they do this, for example, while they were nesting, they got interrupted and didn’t lay all of their eggs in the nest, the eggs were infertile and wouldn’t hatch, or the tortoise is young and just “practicing”. The best thing to do is leave them where she dropped them. They won’t hatch, but they will provide a meal for something else.
Becky

From: Lisa, Subject: Gopher Tortoises white marks on shells, Date: June 8, 2012
I enjoy looking at the gopher tortoises near a favorite bike path where I live in Venice, Florida, and have noticed that some have white spots on their shells. What could that be? I hope it doesn't indicate poor health! Thank you!

It is very difficult to say if this is something “normal” or indicative of a problem. If you could email me some pictures, that might help. Do you see it on one animal, or several? Do the tortoises seem to behave normally, eating, etc.?
Becky

From: Patti, Subject: Protected Turtle?, Date: June 8, 2012
Hi, We have 5 acres behind our house , Windermere, FL, (SW Orlando) the present owner is going to build homes on this property, and just last week, 6/1/2012, I saw a Huge, very Huge, Giant tortoise . It’s shell was 24” off the ground. ! It was walking around. I was so amazed at the size of this thing.!!! If they destroy the land, by building on it ,…… where would this wonderful creature live. Can they be protected? I gotta know!
Patti

Hi Patti,
Sound like it is a released or escapee African spur-thigh tortoise. They are a popular pet trade item, but typically when people buy them, the tortoise is very small and cute. The buyer doesn’t realize and it is not made clear that spur-thighs are the third largest tortoise species in the world, grow very fast, and will dig enormous holes in your yard. When they get too big, they either escape their inadequate housing or the owner turns them loose.
If you can get some pictures and email them to me, I can identify what kind of turtle it is so we know for sure.
My suggestion is that you call the local animal control and see what they suggest. You might also contact the property owner and tell them that the tortoise has been seen there. They might be willing to deal with it before building.
Write back if you need more information, and if you can get some pictures.       Becky

From: Leola, Subject: hello {Give up pet tortoise?}, Date: June 5, 2012
My grandson was given a turtle for his birthday by his mom she didn’t tell me where she found it. so I studied the internet to see what kind a turtle she was. She loves to burrow in the dirt and they way she looks she’s a Florida gopher turtle. I just found out on this site it’s illegal to have her. She like family we had her since December of last year and she has grown some..we place her outside in a little area we made for her with rocks and grass so she wont escape..then we take her in the house at night so nothing wont eat her..be have a little shelter house made for her she doesn’t put her head in when I pick her up and hug on she looks at me like she knows me.. what should I do we love tutu..it’s going to kill my grandson and me when we let her go. How big will she get?

Would you please email some photos of the tortoise so I can tell if it is a gopher tortoise or not? If you can’t do that, write me back anyway.
Becky

From: Mike, Subject: Gopher Tortoise habitat, Date: June 5, 2012
I believe that there is a company in the area that has many of these endangered tortoises on the property. The company has been around since the 60's but the tortoises move around and dig holes in areas that they can be hurt or killed. What can be done to correct this without breaking the law? I would like to help before something bad happens.

Please tell me what state and county you are located in.
Becky

From: Nichole, Subject: Gopher Tortoise burrowing under foundation of home., Date: June 2, 2012
I live in Lowndes county Georgia. I returned home after memorial day weekend to find a tortoise has dug under a corner of my home. I own one acre surrounded by many undeveloped acres. There are two burrows directly behind my property. I would like to get the tortoise out of my yard. Can this burrow damage my homes foundation? What are the best solutions to get the GT to relocate?

Hi,
It is extremely unlikely that the tortoise will harm your foundation. Lots of people have told me (and I have seen it myself) that a tortoise has dug next to a house, shed, a.c. unit, etc., and I have never heard of any problems.
As far as getting the tortoise out of your yard, I would suggest you convince it to relocate itself instead of you trying to move it. If you can stand it, stop mowing your yard for a few weeks. Once the grass gets too tall for the tortoise to graze, it will probably move on to somewhere with more suitable conditions. You might make the rest of your property more attractive by keeping the grass short and accessible to the tortoise.
Feel free to write me back if you have other questions.       Becky

From: David, Subject: Tortoise shell, Date: June 2, 2012
African spur thigh tortoise Me and my friend found a turtle shell in her back yard. We live in mid Michigan and I know the turtle is not native to Mi. I'm pretty shure it is some kind of tortoise but I can't find any pics online that look anything like it it is pretty unique. I attached a picture please let me know what kind of turtle this is

Hi,
Not only does that tortoise not belong in Michigan, it doesn’t belong in the U.S. I think it is an African spur thigh tortoise. It is a popular species in pet stores. Unfortunately, many people buy them when they are little and cute, not realizing that they are the third-largest tortoise species in the world, that they grow quickly, and that they dig huge holes in your yard. Many times, their owners panic and turn them loose, or the tortoise is being kept in inadequate housing and it escapes. They cannot survive here on their own. It is sad. However, that is a nice shell, and it is fine for you to keep it.
Feel free to write back if you have other questions.       Becky

From: Sutra, Subject: Found dead gopher tortoise, Date: May 31, 2012
Hi,
We noticed vultures in our yard and went over to discover a dead gopher tortoise where they were. It looks fairly large and old. I was wondering if it is illegal to keep the shell?
I have no idea what happened to it and am saddened by the discovery. We have a large burrow in our yard and have seen a turtle digging there recently. I'm wondering if it was this same turtle? The dead turtle had it's hind legs all the way out of it's shell. We also had a lot of rain here recently from the tropical storm. It was found approximately 250 feet from the burrow. Any ideas on what might have happened?       Thanks!

Hi,
Can you email me some pictures? Also, what state do you live in?
Becky

Gopher tortoise baby #2

From: Kevin, Subject: Picture from kevin, Date: May 31, 2012
Can you tell us how old this gopher turtle is it is about four inches long it is living by our fence post we are not here all the time only every other month for about a week. Not much grass in our yard what will it eat and should we try to feed it Bread or fruit

Hi Kevin,
I would guess it is two or three years old. Once they reach about five years old, the shell gets hard and dark, and they are larger than 4 inches.
Please do not supplement the tortoises diet. For one thing, that is illegal. Besides that, tortoises have fairly specific requirements and feeding them “people food” is not healthy for them. If you want, you could plant things in your yard that would be good food plants. I have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote that has good information in it. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
Write back if you need more information or have other questions.       Becky

From: Eddie, Subject: Mississippi Gopher tortoise, Date: May 30, 2012
Baby Gopher Tortoise #1
I live in south Mississippi and found a baby gopher tortoise. We have a couple of them on our property (four acres of mowed grass) and finding this little guy was a thrill. The problem is that he's dug his little burrow (so cute) in the yard next to a road. What should I do? I'm thinking of buying a turtle crossing sign but it seems I could do more. Do you think if I take him to one of the adult gopher holes (further away from the road) might help? Will adult turtles let this little guy live with them in their burrows? Do they share burrows? By the way, what are some foods I could throw out by their hole entrances?
Thanks,       Eddie

Hi Eddie,
Legally, you are not supposed to move the tortoise. The kids will use adult burrows sometimes, but if it has dug its own, even if you move it, it will likely come back. A tortoise crossing sign might at least get people to pay attention more.
Also, please do not put out supplemental food for the tortoises. They have very complicated diet requirements, but if they can get easy food, they probably won’t go out and forage for what they need. It is equivalent to us eating at McDonalds instead of cooking at home.
Feel free to write back if you have any questions.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Chance, Subject: Tiny turtle :-), Date: May 30, 2012
Hello, my name I Chance. I found what looks to be a baby gopher turtle. As I am aware of the laws and protection for this species. I was wondering if it is ok to keep it for awhile? Atleast until it gets alil bigger. My niece is the one I'm asking for, she is 7yrs old. If it's ok, then would you be able to give alil advice on how to keep it? (food, environment, etc...) Any information would be greatly appreciated. - Good Day

Hi,
It is not legal to keep the baby if it is a gopher tortoise. They have very specific diet requirements and should be out running around learning how to survive. It cannot do that properly in captivity. You need to take it back to wherever you got it and release it. Try to find a shady spot with some vegetation cover so it can hide from predators.
Releasing it will be a better lesson for your niece as she will learn to appreciate wildlife and nature where it belongs. Fewer and fewer kids get that opportunity.
Thank you,       Becky

From: Annette, Subject: Gopher Turtle {freshly laid eggs}, Date: May 26, 2012
There was this Gopher Turtle that has been living on the side of our house ever since it was very tiny, turtle was the size of a golf ball back then. Anyhow, several weeks ago I walked Around the side of the house and she was digging Alot in front of her burrow And there wAs a huge pile of sand and well she had latex her eggs and was covering them. She saw me and scuffed back in. Now iam worried that she abandoned her burrow and the eggs because she is for sure not there due to seeing cobwebs over her entrance and it has rained several times and no footprints showing she has been there. Do Gopher Turtles leave After they Lay their eggs? And what do I do now

Gopher tortoises do not take care of their eggs or young. If she covered the eggs, then she is done and they should be fine. She may not use that burrow again for a while or ever, but that will have no impact on the eggs. Just leave them alone, and if no predator digs them up and they are good, fertile eggs, you will hopefully see more little golf balls in a couple of months.
Feel free to write back if you have questions or need more information.
Becky

From: Trammell, Subject: Prevent Gopher Turltes from eating vegatable garden, Date: May 25, 2012
wild gopher turtle has started eating out of a friend’s vegetable garden this past week. Would putting a wire field fence around the garden stop the turtle from entering the garden?

I can’t promise that a regular fence will stop the tortoise from getting in the garden because it can dig under if it is really determined. The best bet is to take some hardware cloth about 3 feet tall and bury it a foot under the ground.
Write back if you have any other questions.
Becky

a gopher tortoise

From: Josh, Subject: Gopher?, Date: May 23, 2012
Hello, I helped this turtle cross the road outside of my workplace in DeLeon Springs yesterday. I was hoping you could tell me what type of turtle it is. I didn't take it home or anything. Just helped it cross the road. I'm just curious as to the species.

It is a gopher tortoise. Thank you for getting him out of a bad situation and for not taking him home.
Becky

From: Gloria, Subject: family behavior, Date: April 30, 2012
Hi Becky, I have a couple questions concerning family behavior in tortoises. We have witnessed a few things that you may be interested in or perhaps already know of them. Missy the female mother of two often comes to eat the weeds we call stick tights. They are long leggy weeds with daisy type flowers and the awful stickers that attach to anything walking by. She will bite the stem off at the bottom, then shove the stem into her mouth and down her throat about 4 to 5 inches, bite it off and do it again, and again, and again until the entire plant has been injested. I counted a total of 15 times she did this in one setting. Would she then regurgitate this inside her burrow for the little ones to eat? We think so.
Now, another time this week she came out of her burrow to help Buster (the 6 inch baby) enlarge his burrow opening. He would come in and out of the original hole he dug and it was just a little larger than himself. However yesterday she dug it out to where it is now twice his size. We thought that was awful nice of mom.
Today she is digging another burrow next door at our neighbors house under their back porch. Within 4 hours she had it mounded up around the opening 3 feet out and 1 foot high. We think she is going to lay her new eggs in this one. We're keeping an eye on her to see what happens next.
I have a dvd made with the videos we have taken of these guys and gals. I'll send it to the address you gave in your previous email. Let me know what you think could be the age of both young ones. Thanks!
Gloria Theen

Hi Gloria,
That is all very interesting. From the minute tortoises hatch from the eggs, they are out cruising around and eating on their own. Sometimes they might go down into an adult burrow, but, as far as we know, the mom does not take care of them. However, we don’t always know everything. I have also never heard of a tortoise helping another one enlarge his burrow. Please let me know if she eventually chases him out of that one, or if he continues to use it.
I would love to see your videos, and you can send them to my nasa.gov email. I will try to estimate the ages.
Thanks,       Becky

From: David, Subject: Found baby gopher tortoise, Date: April 29, 2012
We have 2.5 acres in New Smyrna FL. We are in a dry sandy area. We have several adult gopher tortoises on and around our yard. We have small dogs, but they don't see too interested in the turtles. However we found a baby (quite a bit away from the suspected burrow, about 100 yards). We are worried about the dogs. They do seem interested in the baby, and it is small enough for them to harm it. The baby is about 3 inches across. It was obviously old enough to come out on its own. Should we relocate it? Should we move it to a more remote location? Or should we just leave it be (and keep an eye on the dogs)?
We aren't looking to keep it as a "pet," though we enjoy seeing them. Let me know your thoughts.
Thank you,       David and Chrissy

Hi David and Chrissy,
The best (and legal) thing to do is release the tortoise into an adult burrow that is close to where you found it. Relocation is not allowed without a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and I am pretty confident they would not issue you a permit under these circumstances. Please do the best you can to keep your dogs away from it.
If you have questions or need more information, please feel free to write me back.
Becky

From: Gloria, Subject: videos of resident gopher tortoises, Date: April 18, 2012
Hi Becky, I've been reading your mail on the subject of gopher tortoises and have found it most interesting and helpful. We have a colony now of them behind out house. It started with a female that hatched a brood and one of them stayed and dug a burrow next to moms. Two weeks ago we seen the smallest baby ever on her mound. It must be 2" in diameter. I video taped it and found that it too has dug a burrow on moms' mound so now we have three generations living with us. I have several videos but they won't send to your email address. The shortest one is 2 minutes and range up to 10 minutes. Today "Bob" paid a visit. He is a male and has been courting "Missy". He got lucky and I got video! It is 4 minutes. We call him Bob because he will sit on the top of her mound in front of the opening with his head bobbing up and down really fast to get her attention. She gave in today and we look forward to more babies in the near future. We would like to set up a web camera above her mound (it is right under a second story window) and have live feed soon. They are quite entertaining. We live in south Sarasota County and as you can see from our yard it is a natural habitat....as much as it can be being on a grass strip airport. The little guy in the pictures is "Buster", we think he is about 3 years old. The littlest one at 2" we think is a year old but are not sure. If "Missy" lays fertilized eggs we can look for new ones in the fall.

Four local gopher tortoises

Hi,
I enjoyed reading your email and seeing the pictures. It looks like you have an amazing situation there. The live feed sounds like a great idea and I am sure other people would find that very interesting, especially school kids.
Try sending the videos to this address.
I am so glad that you enjoy the information on the web site. Thanks for letting me know.
Take care,       Becky

From: Gary, Subject: Gopher in my yard {not moving much}, Date: April 20, 2012
3 days ago I saw a gopher tortoise laying in front of our house. It was in one spot all day. I normally don’t approach any that live on our wooded 9 acres but I was concerned about this one. On day 2, I moved it to a native grassy area where it promptly ate some grass but then for the rest of the day had only moved 6 ft. On day 3 it had moved another 15ft and sat there all day. Is this normal behavior for Springtime? I e-mailed www.gophertortisecouncil.org 2 days ago but never received a reply. FWC wasn’t able to help me either. Can you please help me and the tortoise, that is if it does need help.? Thank you from a wildlife lover. We are willing to transport it to a licensed person in Gainesville for treatment if necessary. It’s still dark outside right now, let me take a flashlight outside and see if he/she is still there. Yep, still there and alive.
Carole

Hi Carole,
If you are able and willing to take the tortoise to a wildlife rehabilitator or vet, that might be a good thing to do. The behavior you describe does not sound normal, especially if the animal is sitting outside (i.e., not in a burrow) all night for several days
Becky

From: Tammy, Subject: Burrowing {under house}, Date: April 18, 2012
a Fl gopher tortoise burrows under your house... will it cause damage to the foundation or the home itself.... thank you.... draggenfly

Hi Draggenfly,
I get this question quite often, and have never heard of damage to any structure. The burrows angle down pretty quickly, and the tortoise stops digging if it hits something hard.
Becky

From: Margaret, Subject: Baby Gopher Turtle, Date: March 28, 2012
Love your website! We have 14 acres of land with many precious Gopher Turtles…we love them. Today our area Red Shoulder Hawk was outside the back door and wouldn’t leave. We discovered a newly hatched baby gopher turtle the hawk must have dropped. This little guy was almost 2”. There is a burrow close by and not sure what to do and wanting to do what was safe for him, we put him at the entrance of the burrow. He went down into it. Did we do the right thing? He was very strong and appeared healthy. Usually the babies stay close to their burrows and we have not encountered this before. Thanks for your website! Hope to hear from you soon.
Margaret & Jay J

Hi Margaret and Jay,
What you did was perfect. Hatchling tortoises often dig their own burrows, but also use existing burrows, including adult-sized. Lucky for the tortoise that you saw him when you did, or I am guessing he would have been an appetizer for that hawk.
Thank you!       Becky

From: mounties1958, Subject: Help {Project destroying habitat}, Date: March 23, 2012 two gopher tortoises
I live in "The Preserve of Heritage Oaks" in West Melbourne. The town of West Melbourne wants to put in a street directly behind our subdivision along a drainage canal. Myself and my neighbors are trying to stop this unnecessary street from being put in. There is a lot of natural habitat that is going to be destroyed if this project goes through. I have been researching some of the wildlife along the planned route and I have watched what I believe to be several "Gopher Tortoises" coming and going along this canal. I have walked where they have been traveling and came across several holes in the bank along the canal that I believe they are living in. Can you give me any advice on how I can go about stopping the town of West Melbourne from destroying this natural area. They are holding a Public Meeting on Monday, March 26 to provide information and to get feedback from the community on this project. Any help or advice you can give us would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me at this email address or at these phone numbers.
Thanks so much,       Mike

Hi Mike,
      Here are my suggestions:
      If you see any tortoises out between now and the meeting, take pictures, print them out, and take them with you. Also, take pictures of the burrows. Gopher tortoises are a state-listed Threatened species and they or their habitat cannot be disturbed without a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That won’t stop the development, but the tortoises have to be relocated, and that is expensive. Last year, gopher tortoises were declared a candidate species for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
      Pictures of anything nature-related that will be destroyed might be helpful.
      If you can send me pictures before Monday of tortoises, I can positively identify them, or I may be able to tell you if the burrows were dug by tortoises. I have attached some pictures to this email that may help you decide if what you are seeing are tortoises. Even if the turtles are not gopher tortoises, pictures of live animals (legally protected or not) that will be killed or lose their homes are good for making politicians change their minds.
      Definitely go to the meeting, and the more people you can get to go with you, the better. Insist that the proponents of the road explain why it is necessary. Try to be unemotional and very factual. Write down some key points you would like to make so that you are ready when you get the opportunity to speak. Killing animals and justifying the expense are two good talking points. They may want you to sign-up to speak, so find out what the procedure is when you get there.
      Write me back if I can provide any other information, or if you want me to look at pictures. Good luck!
            M. Rebecca Bolt

From: Recession Wagon, Subject: Gopher tortoise [selling & eating], Date: March 21, 2012
Are there still bands on pulling Gopher tortoise and selling & eating them ?

Yes, it is illegal to harass, capture, kill, eat, sell, etc., etc., gopher tortoises. If you know of such activity, please contact your state wildlife agency and report it. You can remain anonymous. If you are considering taking part in such activities yourself, don’t.
Feel free to write me back if you have questions.       Becky

From: judi, Subject: gophers in SC, Date: March 20, 2012
My mom in law, now deceased, told me years ago that her and her siblings used to ride gophers. Of course I thought she was crazy. I had to ask her how did y'all ride on furry little animals? She laughed and said no, not a furry animal, but a turtle. Still perplexed, I ask her how could you ride a turtle? She said they grew very, very big, as big as her. I had to look this up for myself. Couldn' t believe it. Too cool!
Gopher tortoise range My question to you is do gophers still exist in South Carolina? Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,       Judi

Hi Judi,
As you can see on the map (which shows the entire range for gopher tortoises), gopher tortoises barely make it into South Carolina, but there are a few there.
That is a very cute story about your grandmother. I am sure there were probably more tortoises in SC when she lived there. Where in SC did she live?
Becky

From: Barbara, Subject: gopher turtle babies, Date: March 19, 2012
I have a yard enclosed with a 6 foot wood fence, but somehow gopher turtle babies are getting under the fence, into the jaws of my Jack Russell.
He killed the first one by biting it through the shell. The second one seems OK. I put it back outside the fence. What else can I do? We have a steady population here. One large adult male drowned itself in my Koi pond last fall. I saw a small adult one last week - guess it was a female.
I live in New Port Richey Fl. I thought the first baby was a fluke. Should I leave them to fend for them selves or contact my local preserve?
Barbara

Hi Barbara,
The gopher tortoise is a legally protected species at the State level, and is also a candidate for federal listing. It is important that you do something to remedy the situation. Gophers are great diggers, so it does not surprise me that they are getting under your fence. There are a couple of things you can try; what you decide to do will probably depend on how large an area you are protecting. You can bury some type of fencing (I have used chicken wire or hardware cloth) 18 inches under the ground at the bottom of the fence. They will give up trying to dig under that. Another option is to put something wide around the bottom of the fence, like hay bales, to block the tortoises.
Leaving them to fend for themselves is not a good option, besides being illegal. You can try calling your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (http://myfwc.com/about/inside-fwc/sw/), but they have limited ability and resources to deal with these types of issues and will likely tell you that the problem is your responsibility.
Please feel free write me back if I can help with more information.
Becky

From: jannie, Subject: two gopher turtles - one on its back?, Date: February 29, 2012
hi, becky,
...on a walk I came across two gopher turtles - we're in north central Fla. - one was on it's back. alive. the other seemed to be nudging at it.... trying to turn it over? mating?
.....didn't notice and didn't want to stay too close
... both had immediately withdrawn into their shells but
...after a few minutes the 'white' moved with determination past the other one.. may have been trying to 'get away' the other followed closely behind and they both disappeared into the borrow....
...what an marvelous encounter to witness.. but not sure what I was seeing..
...could one have been trying to turn the upside down turtle over?
is that mating behavior?
would the tortoise have turned over on its own?
...is there such a thing as as an albino shell|? or..?
hope to hear from you , Becky.. My whole family is very curious! thanks Jannie Inverness, Fla

Hi Jannie,
Typically, tortoises try to turn each other over on their backs when they are fighting. If the one that gets turned over can’t right itself, it can die from heat or cold or predation. When tortoises mate, the male approaches the female from behind and mounts her; there is no turning over involved. The encounter you saw sounds somewhat unusual, especially in that they both went down the same burrow. Maybe they were fighting, but decided to put up with each other until the “danger” (you) passed. I have never seen an albino tortoise, but please, if you ever see it again, be sure to get some pictures.
Feel free to write me back if you have other comments or questions.
Becky

From: Trudy, Subject: Flipping gopher tortoises, Date: March 1, 2012
I do nature hikes at a beach park in ft. Myers. Last week I saw one gopher tortoise flip the other on it's back and the turn it back again right side up. This happened about five times in 30 minutes. Is this a mating ritual or male territorial behavior?
Thanks for the info,       Trudy

Hi Trudy,
That is how tortoises combat. If one can manage to turn another onto its back and the second one cannot right itself, the “loser” could potentially die from heat, cold, predation, etc. I have not seen that many times where the second tortoise could not get turned over, but I am sure it occasionally happens.
I have also seen female to female combat.
Feel free to write back if you have more questions. Thank you for helping educate; that is a good thing!
Becky

From: David, Subject: Baby Gopher Tortoise Eyes, Date: February 23, 2012
Are baby gopher tortoises born with open eyes or do they open after so many days? Thank you. DB

Hi DB,
When gopher tortoises hatch, they have their eyes open. However, I have seen many hatchlings that develop problems with one of both of their eyes that cause the eyes to be closed. It may be some type of infection, but I don’t know for sure.
Feel free to write me back if you need more information.       Becky

From: SANDI, Date: February 22, 2012, Subject: {Food source extinction}
If the low growing grass goes extinct due to climate change but the bushes do not what is one possible outcome for the turtle population over time?
(A) The turtles learn to eat algae that grows underwater.
(B)The turtles grow longer necks to reach the bushes.
(C)Turtles with longer necks tend to be able to get more food and live longer, therefor producing more offspring with the same long neck trait.
(D)The turtles learn to stand on rocks to reach the bushes.
Sandi

Hi Sandi,
I have no idea which of those options might happen – maybe all of them, but probably none of them. The impacts of climate change are going to be quick (relatively speaking) and happen in decades. There won’t be time for many organisms to evolve coping strategies that will help them survive (hundreds of years, if not longer). This will be particularly true for animals like turtles that typically have a very long generation time and don’t evolve as quickly as animals that have several generations of offspring over the course of a few years.
I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have more questions.       Becky

From: Gabrielle, Date: February 18, 2012
Subject: Is it ok to feed my sulcata tortiouse bokjoy kale callard greens chicory?

Hi,
Here are a couple of links to care sheets for sulcatas that should tell you everything you need to know about taking the best care of your tortoise.
http://www.chelonia.org/articles/sulcatacare.htm
http://home.earthlink.net/~rednine/sulcatacare.html
Feel free to write me back if you need more information.
Becky

From: theresa, Date: February 11, 2012, Subject: {Cat attack}
dear becky, we have alot of turtles in our area,mostly florida soft shells but recently we found one being attacked by a stray cat so i brought the turtle inside and washed her off in water to see if she was injured or what kind of turtle she was and i believe she is gopher but she looks alot like a baby sulcata tortoise.she has damage to her shell and im worried shes too little to defend herself or even to run from attackers.but im not sure what to do please call me asap

I would take her to a wildlife rehabilitator. They will take care of her injuries; she should probably get some antibiotics, especially if there is shell damage. If you cannot find a rehabber in your area, write me back.
You might also call animal control and ask them to come trap the cats.
Thank you,       Becky

From: Ellen, Subject: breeding pair, Date: February 7, 2012
Hi
Is there any money to save habitat for gopher tortoises?
Ellen

Hi Ellen,
There are government programs (at many levels) that are for purchasing and managing habitat for wildlife, such as Forever Florida. There are private organizations whose entire purpose is to conserve land; the Nature Conservancy is a good example. In Florida, if gopher tortoise habitat is developed, the tortoises must be relocated to an official recipient site that is managed for the long-term to support gopher tortoises.
I hope that answers your question. If not, write me back.       Becky

From: Melissa, Subject: {What to do with a} gopher tortoise, Date: February 5, 2012,
We have two gopher tortoise holes on our property, I was wondering if you could send me the chapter from the workbook written by your friend that talks about what to do when you have a tortoise on your property.
Thank you!       Melissa

Hi Melissa,
Chapter attached. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please. Feel free to write me back if you have questions or need more information.
Becky

From: lwicker, Subject: gopher tortoise hole covered by bush hog, Date: January 27, 2012
Hi,
I saw your website. I have an empty lot next to my house where a couple of gopher tortoises had a home (you could see the entrance to their hole) and yesterday the lot was cleared and the hole is now covered. Is there anything we can do? Can they dig out on their own? Is it likely that they heard the noise and moved before the hole was covered? Is there an agency that I can call to report this incident? It was obvious that the tortoises were there and it looks like whoever did the work puposely covered the hole. Thank you for your help,       Linda

The tortoises should be able to dig out. What state and county do you live in?
Becky

Gopher tortoise photoFrom: Lauren, Subject: Here is a picture!, Date: January 23, 2012

Yes, it’s a gopher tortoise. Congratulations! Have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
Thanks,       Becky

From: Rachel, Subject: Gender Confused Tortoise, Date: January 10, 2012,
Hi Becky,I have a question about desert tortoise behavior I hope you can answer. I live in southern AZ and have two desert tortoises living in my backyard. The older tortoise is about 20 years old and, as best I can tell, female. (She has a flat plastron, short gular horn and no discernible chin glands). The other is only ten but appears to be female so far. For the first few years of living together they largely ignored each other, save for an occasional curious sniff-down. About two years ago the older tortoise began acting very aggressively towards the younger- chasing, nipping and scratching him/her. As they became closer in size, the aggression increased. Last summer the older started mounting the younger, grunting etc....all in vain as she doesn't seem to have any male equipment. So my question is this: What's going on? I know males can be quite aggressive but I can't find any literature on female aggression. Is my female really a male or do I just have an odd tortoise? Also, is there anything I can to prevent aggressive behavior? I'd like to keep my yard harassment free!Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer my questions,       Rachel

Hi Rachel,
I don’t know very much about desert tortoises. They are similar to gopher tortoises in some ways, but there are better sources of information about them than me. Here is a link to the Desert Tortoise Council website and it has contact numbers for people that can help you.
http://www.deserttortoise.org/
There is a “contact dtc” button at the top of the page.
Let me know if this does not get you what you want to know, and we’ll go to Plan B.       Becky

From: Kathy, Subject: Feeding tortoise, Date: January 8, 2012
Hi,
I live in the Orlando Fl area on two acres of land. A teenage tortoise keeps coming into our yard from it's home in the field next door. Our grass is very dry right now as it is winter. Is there something we can feed him or should we plant a certain type of grass that will help him. We love turtles and want him to stick around and be healthy.
Thank you       Kathy

Hi Kathy,
Because tortoises are legally protected, you are not allowed to feed them. However, there are things you can do to make your yard more suitable and attractive. I have attached a chapter from a workbook that a friend of mine wrote. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
Let me know if you have other questions. Good luck and enjoy!       Becky

From: Brigitte, Subject: Spur thigh tortoise has bugs!, Date: January 4, 2012
My tort is about 4-5 months old and have him in a 55 gallon tank with soil and a house plant , he has developed micro tiny bugs or mites they look white and are on his shell and his head and every where ! Is it from the food I feed him romaine and sometimes yellow squash and cuks and tomatoes ! How do I get ride of these bugs? Thanks, B. Applegate

Hi,
I am not able to tell you where the bugs have come from or what to do about them, but I strongly suggest you get him to a vet to get them removed. The vet may be able to tell you what they are, where they came from, and how to get them out of the tank. You may have to clean the tank out and get new bedding.
Here are a couple of care sheets that may help you with housing and feeding:
http://redfoottortoise.com/generalcare.htm
http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/cs-redfoot.htm
Let me know if you need any more information or if you need help finding a vet.
Becky

From: pamela, Date: December 31, 2011, Subject: {dogs / fence?}
i have gopher turtle on my property & i dont want my dogs to bother them so i want to put some kind of fence up....do you have any suggestions?

Probably any fence that keeps your dogs out will do. A tortoise can dig underneath most fences if it wants to, unless it is buried a foot or so underneath the ground.

Feel free to write back if you have other questions.       Becky

From: J. Elizabeth, Subject: Found Gopher tortoise, Date: December 22, 2011
a lovely gopher tortoise showed up at our door. we live in a well-developed neighborhood, our house is located on a canal and the habitat is not really suitable for a gopher tortoise, so it is unlikely that it lives nearby. it is possible someone dropped him/her at our doorstep, since we have a rep in the area as animal rescuers. what to do?

I apologize for taking so long to answer, but have been off work since before Christmas. If you still have the tortoise, please tell me what city and county you live in and I will find somewhere for you to take it.       Becky

 


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Titusville's Space View Park: Mercury 7 sculpture with bridge in background.