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Gopher tortoise drinking from puddles in parking lot in the rain.
A tortoise in the rain drinking from puddles.

Gopher Tortoise -- "Ask an Expert"

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From: Paul, Subject: Foundation-plumbing leak, Date: December 4, 2017
HOW do you Remove if you have a gopher tortoise with babies that has undermined the foundation of the house compromising the structure AND has caused a Plumbing Leak in their  borrow? I am out of $$ but must fix this asap!!

What state and county do you live in?

From: Debbie, Subject: Baby tortoise, Date: December 3, 2017
We have a very small tortoise under a muck bucket on the side of our barn. No bigger than 2 inch in diameter. Do you think it might be ok on its own. I am guess it is a gopher tortoise. We live in lake county florida and do have gopher torouse in our yard. Should we leave it alone?

Yes, the best thing to do is leave it alone. If you send me a picture, I can tell you what kind of turtle it is.

From: Steve, Subject: May have been covered before, but how to protect egg clutches?, Date: December 2, 2017
Have really enjoyed reading some of your advice on the gopher tortoise. I have a male/female pair in my acreage (possibly more that I haven't found yet). I love these creatures and go out of my way not to disturb them.
I don't want to have any direct contact with or even go near the eggs, but was wondering if any kind of fencing or screening could be done (assuming the eggs are laid somewhere besides the burrow entrance) around the egg site, to then be removed when they near hatching? Would love to see the eggs and hatchlings survive. I know there is a significant raccoon population here also.
Thanks! Steve

Hi Steve,
      There is nothing you can legally put near the nest to protect it, and the truth is that most eggs and young get eaten. As long as each adult tortoise replaces itself, the population will remain stable. However, you can help the process by staying away from the nest area so you don't leave your scent to attract mammal predators, don't leave out food or garbage that attracts predators to the area, and keep your dogs and cats away from the nest. Hopefully, you will someday see some hatchlings.

From: "mayhemandmagnolias, {Subject: eggs laid in driveway}, Date: November 27, 2017
What do I do if a gopher tortoise lays it's eggs in my neighbors dirt driveway?

Are the eggs buried in a hole or are they laying on top of the dirt?

From: Virginia, Subject: Pre-history and dna, Date: November 20, 2017
Hello.  I'm trying to reconstruct the probable/ possible history of a south florida pine flatwoods area ajaent to and within a  housing developemt in thr 1960s.  This area, previously had a few settlers and scattered citrus farms and nurseries.
All of this is for a fictional piece I'm writing.  I've attempted this research and haven't been able to find answers. Here are my questions:  ( I hope y'all know.)
How far do gopher tortoises spread in migration over time? Or to ask more specifically, would the tortoise I see in a field today have had relatives in the same general area a million years ago? What about in the same field? I'm guessing there has to be some spread for genetic mixing, yet I know they are homing creatures too.
The next question is just a kind of " if you happen to know" question.  The pine flatwoods itself, do you happen to know how old these mgiht be?  I see some maps that say Flrodia was boggy a million years ago, but it couldn't have been boggy, it seems if gopher tortoises were in residence.
  Anyway, really, I mentioned in my writing that the flatwoods in Sl Fla and tortoises were here, in PB Co. a million years ago. Now, I'm trying to research the accuracy of that and am not partial to the "million years." Just want to say something that is accurate.
Thanks for your time. Virginia

      It is believed that the direct ancestors of our present-day gopher tortoises arose during the Pleistocene Epoch, between 10,000 and 1.8 million years ago. For a good discussion of this, see The Natural History and Management of the Gopher Tortoise by Ray and Pat Ashton.
      Gopher tortoises tend to stay in the same area over their lifetime, but will move short distances in response to food availability and disturbance. When they reproduce, the young find a spot and stay put for a few years until their shell gets hard and they are not as vulnerable to predation. After that, the younger, smaller tortoises are forced to the outer edges of the colony by the bigger animals.
      You'll have to find another information source about the evolution of the pine flatwoods. Not my forte! J

Kittens and little gopher tortoise From: Harley, Subject: Gopher tortoise {Injured baby}, Date: November 5, 2017
We have found a few gopher tortoises on our land and today we saw a baby who was injured. It looks as if something got a hold of its shell. I know they are protected so I'm not sure what I should do?

Take it to a wildlife rehabilitator. If you need help finding one in your area, write me back and tell me your state and county.
      Thanks,       Becky

From: Barbara, Subject: Wheezing Gopher Tortoise, Date: October 17, 2017
The gopher tortoise that lives in my back yard wheezes as he walks.  I think he may have URTD.  His appetite seems good right now, but I worry about his future health and the potential of his spreading of the disease to other tortoises.  Is there any treatment (e.g., antibiotic) that can help him? 

The only way to diagnose URTD is with a blood test. If he's still wheezing, I would take him to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. They might give his some antibiotics, even if they don't know for sure what the problem is. That might help.

From: Rosemarie, Subject: Gohper Turtle eggs, Date: October 29, 2017
A Gopher Turtle just laid her eggs on my property.  I have put a wire crate with a block to protect the area from mowing and other animals. Which animals are capable of destroying the nest and eating the eggs?
I am on a lake and have raccoons, armadillos, hawks, and of course squirrels .

Hi Rosemarie,
      I have some questions:
      What state and county are you located in?
      Did she lay the eggs in a hole and cover them up or are they on top of the ground?
      Thanks,       Becky

Are these gopher tortoises? From: Nancy, Subject: Are these gopher tortoises?, Date: October 28, 2017
Hi, I saw these yesterday along the trails at the Tibet-Butler Preserve. Are they Gopher Tortoises?
Regards, Nancy (visiting FL from MA)

Yes they are!

From: Sheila, Subject: Gopher Tortoise {and Bantam chickens}, Date: October 27, 2017
I had a young gopher tortoise burrow under my porch, about 4 months ago I loved having it there so did all the researh on having one in your yard. I live in Okaloosa Co Florida. I saw it everyday until about 4 days ago when I brought 2 Bantam chickens home. Would this have anything to do with this or do they hibernate. Kinda concerned!
Thank You, Sheila

Hi Sheila,
      It is that time of year when tortoises become less active due to fewer hours of daylight and cooler temperatures. Where you are located (north Florida), they may stay in a burrow for weeks at a time. I'm pretty confident the tortoise's disappearance has nothing to do with your chickens.

From: "Howjacalit, Subject: Tortis won't show up, Date: October 20, 2017
I contacted you a little while ago. It's been over 2 weeks since we got a license and hired a licensed contractor to remove it legally and we are following the rules. It seems to me that he should have caught the tortis by now. We contacted him as you suggested. At what point do we draw the line and give up? This is holding up the clearing of our lot to build our new house. Our patients are wearing thin between the problems we are having with our builder and the incompetent turtle man. We are building in the Spring Hill area and using the person you recommended. How can this animal be "endangered" when there is so many of them that they are able to build a business in trapping them and they can be legally bought and sold? What can be done to expedite this process, we don't have forever to wait this scam out because we are paying 2 mortgages.

I am sorry things aren't moving along as quickly as you envisioned.
      First of all, I do not know, and I didn't recommend the tortoise agent that you have hired. I only told you that you must use an authorized agent to do the work and that there is one that is located in Spring Hill.

If you go to the webpage that I sent you earlier (, you can see all of the permitting requirements. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regional biologist in your area (Southwest Region) is Kelly O'Connor, (863) 648-3200. I would start there if you are not happy with the authorized agent. You can also contact your regional office of the Wildlife Commission through this website:

From: marcia, Subject: Piece of shell missing., Date: October 18, 2017
My dog got ahold of a baby gopher tortoise. He bit a small portion of the rim of the tortoises shell off taking a little flesh with it. The tortoise otherwise is not injured and moving. However I can see this bulbous pinkish flesh where the shell should be covering it. Can this tortoise live?!  Is there anything I can do for it other than moving him near his burrow?  Thank you very much

      A turtle's shell is the outgrowth of its bones, so it is very important that any injury to the shell be treated. Please take the tortoise to a reputable wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian with reptile experience. If left untreated, the wound will likely eventually get infected.
If you need help finding a place to take the tortoise, write me back and tell me your county and city.
      Thank you,       Becky

From: "Howjacalit, {Subject: relocate to build house}, Date: October 14, 2017
We own a lot in Spring Hill Florida. We're attempting to build a new home. Our builder just got the building permit. We visited the lot with our builder and he showed us a gopher tortis burrow and told us he can't clear the lot until the tourtis is removed. This is delaying the construction of the house. We have hired a licensed contractor to remove the tourtis. How long does it usually take to catch it and how can we be sure the tourtis is actually in that particular den when they normally have more than one den? We are in a hurry because we are currently paying 2 mortgages!
Thanks for your help. Dirk

      If there is any way you can build your house and stay 25 feet away from all sides of the burrow, you would not need to remove the tortoise.
      However, if that's not possible, any legal relocation of gopher tortoises must be done by an authorized gopher tortoise agent. I found one located in Spring Hill (information below). This is not to say that the person you have hired is not an authorized agent, but I would check to make sure.       The agent should be able to answer your questions, do a survey, determine if the burrow is occupied, and relocate the animal.

Permit Name & Owner: Authorized Gopher Tortoise Agent - Kevin Steponaitis
Address: D.B.A. The Turtle Trapper 2162 Mariner Blvd. SPRING HILL FL 34609
Permit Number: GTA-09-00166D
Permit Status: Permit Issued
Effective Date: 05/25/2017
Location: 28.4642, -82.5406819
Consultant: N/A
Contact Information: Phone: 352-238-2598 Email:
      Feel free to write back if you have more questions.

From: Joey, Subject: Injured, Date: October 9, 2017
We saw A Gopher Tortoise get run over. Her Carprice on top had shell damage and we were referred to Blue Pearl Animal Hospital in Brandon Florida.
When we got there they said whos going to pay for this? I told them they can bill me if they save her I dont care. They then asked me if I was going to adopt it. I told them it was Illegal wich they should know. They also said they would be contacting A rescue. We called an hour later because it was an hour drive each way and they said they were putting her to sleep. They flat out lied and said her guts were coming out. I own four Species of Tortoises Redfoots, Sulcata, Russian and Hermans. I know Tortoises pretty well. We wrapped her in A towel and surpressed the bleeding with tape to transport her. She was active, alert,all limbs moving, no mouth bleeding, no open mouth breathing. Her Cloaca was ok and despite a good size shell fracture was doing ok. I have seen articles with worse injuries and they were saved. In my eyes she had a good chance if they were to contact an actual Specialist. She would have made it through the night. I also have read when put to sleep its different for Tortoises and im not sure if they even did that properly or if she is somehow still alive. This happened Sunday October 8th last night. Someone reffered us to them and we couldnt get ahold of anyone else. These people really let us down and acted like it was A hassel we brought her there.

It sounds as if they were doing several things illegally, not to mention potentially providing less than good care. I would contact your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and report your experience. You can do it anonymously if you prefer.
      Thank you,       Becky

From: Alicia, {Subject: Moving Illegal?}, Date: October 8, 2017
I found a small ( size of my hand ) tortoise which I am sure is a gopher. It was over heated and I got it cooled off and let it go behind my place in the woods. It seems to have made itself at home since. I live near a lake in flood at the time so I think it may have been flooded out of a former burrow. What should I do or not do? I enjoy seeing the lil guy on ocassion eating my yard! LOL.
Thanks Alicia T.

      If you simply moved it out of harm's way (as opposed to relocating it a long distance), then you did nothing illegal. I wouldn't do anything further.
      Feel free to write back if you have more questions or concerns.

From: Melody, Subject: wet burrow, Date: October 3, 2017 Hi Becky. I have a young gopher tortoise in my yard. I am concerned for her because she is so wet coming out of her burrow. She looks like she has been wading in water. Will this affect her health? Should I catch her and keep her dry for a while? It is just going to keep raining and I see tracts where the water pours in her burrow.
Thank you, Melody

      Tortoises often use wet or damp burrows. If it gets too wet or she decides she doesn't like it, she will move out and dig another burrow in a drier spot. Please don't take her inside because that is really not good for her (and it's illegal).
Write back if you have other questions or concerns. Thanks for caring!

From: Tom, Sent: September 27, 2017, Subject: Re: Moving Tortoise
Hello Becky,
I live in Lee County in Florida.

      There are specific requirements and permits for an area to be designated as a tortoise recipient site. I have included a couple of website links that will help you. This one ( will give you the details on permitting. The other one ( is for you regions Wildlife Commission office. You could call them, ask to speak to a tortoise biologist, and see what they have to say about your situation.
      Write back if you need more information.

From: Tom, Subject: Moving Tortoise, Date: September 25, 2017
Someone recently approached me to see if they could move some tortoises to our property.
We live on a mound which already has several tortoises. Where their tortoises lived was flooded during Hurricane Irma.
Are the tortoises territorial? Could there be aggression? Could additional tortoises mean more excavation that could destabilize our house on the mound? Are permits needed to move the tortoises?
Thanks, Tom

Hi Tom,
      What state and county do you live in?

From: diverlee, Subject: To many holes, Date: September 25, 2017
Hi. I have an acre of cleared land in north Florida. My yard is getting full of to many borrows. I'm worried I will trip and fall. Is there anything I can do? I don't want to cause harm but it's getting out of hand! Some are borrowing under my shed and house
Thank you!

What county do you live in?

From: Lady Abigail, Subject: New hole, Date: September 22, 2017
3 days ago I found a hole in my flower bed that I believe is a gopher tortoise. I've been leaving it alone. But checking to see what's going on around my flower bed. Because of the hurricanes and torrential rains were having here in Central Florida it appears that the whole is completely full of water. I don't see any activity around the hole. Is it logical to believe that this gopher turtle has moved to Higher Ground?
Before I clean up and replant my flower bed I would like to make sure of whether a gopher tortoise can survive in a water water-filled hole.
Thank you, Abigail

Hi Abigail,
      Can you send me some pictures?

From: Jennifer, Subject: Burrow on top of septic field, Date: September 22, 2017
We've recently bought a house in Southwest Florida, Lee County and are enjoying the tortoise population in and around our property. One of the smaller tortoises has its burrow in the middle of the front yard that is also the area of the septic field. Not knowing much about either gopher tortoises or septic fields I worry if this is a good place for a burrow. Are they known to cause damage to septics?
I love being able to sit in the window and watch but don't want expensive septic repairs.

I don't believe you need to be concerned. If the tortoise's burrow goes all the way to the septic tank, once it hits the concrete lid, it will stop digging.
      So glad you are enjoying your new neighbors. Feel free to write back if you have questions.

From: Jennifer, Subject: Gopher Tortoise is Turning up in Weird Places, Date: September 15, 2017
Hi there ­
We have a "teenage" gopher tortoise that seems to be confused after Hurricane Irma. His burrow flooded and water has receded BUT he keeps turning up in random places, like our workshop on our front porch, etc. Is he suffering from PTSD or something after the Hurricane? Is there anything we can do to encourage him to go back to his burrow which looks to be dry?

Other than turning up in weird places, does he look and act normal? His burrow is probably still too wet at the bottom for his liking. I suggest you just let him be, but watch out for him hanging out in dangerous places, like under your cars. He will eventually go back to his old burrow or dig a new one. If he doesn't in a few days, write me back.

From: Donna, {Subject: Out in dark?}, Date: September 7, 2017
are gopher tortoise usually out sat dark

Tortoises typically are out during the day and in their burrows at night. However, there are many documented incidences of them feeding and wandering around at night. This is particularly true when the air temperatures during the day are very hot.

From: Hillrie, Subject: How to displace a gopher tortoise, Date: September 6, 2017
I have a gopher tor. that has his hole by the edge of my veg garden and he is eating away at my small cow peas in my garden--------Advice please---- any help will certainly be app.

Can you email some pictures, please?

From: Alberto, Subject: Would gopher tortoises chew on electric wires buried underground?, Date: September 5, 2017
I am an engineer who works for a solar power developer and installer company who operates all over the country. We are working on projects in Florida in areas where for sure the gopher tortoise (GT) is present, for example Orlando area. As usual, before starting construction we acquire all the permits and conduct all studies and mitigation actions that allow us working on the site without risk to any species and the environment in general. But knowing that GTs dig and burrow underground, we are concerned whether, during their digging, they will find electrical conductors underground and would chew on them. These conductors might be run inside plastic ducts but they might be direct buried in the ground as well.
Would it be possible for the GTs to chew on exposed wires and cause them to be injured or die (and the solar system to fail immediately or eventually)?
Thank you!
Best regards, Alberto

Hi Alberto,
      Very interesting (and new!) question. I have never heard of a tortoise chewing on anything man-made. They don't have teeth and "bite" their food with their beak. No promises, but I would be very surprised if you had any problems due to chewing. However, if you have unprotected wires in the ground and a tortoise should start digging a burrow near them, it might unintentionally cause damage to the wires with its claws.
      Feel free to write back if you have more questions.

What kind of a tortoise is this? From: Prisca, Subject: What kind of turtle this?, Date: September 3, 2017
I think it's a box turtle but not sure.

      It is a hatchling gopher tortoise. Please take it back to where you found it and release it under some cover or into a burrow. It is illegal, and not good for the tortoise, to keep it in captivity.
      Feel free to write me back if you have questions or need assistance.

From: Gail, Subject: Gopher Tortoise {burrowing under home}, Date: September 3, 2017
A gopher tortoise has buried next to and under the foundation of my home.
I don't know how deep the burrow is but it beneath the foundation and I'm concerned damage to the foundation.
Any words of wisdom?

Hi Gail,
      I have been asked this same question and have seen the same situation many times, and have never known of a gopher tortoise causing structural damage to a foundation. The hole is only as large as the tortoise that dug it, and goes into the ground at a 45 degree angle, so it gets deep quickly. The length depends on the habitat and soil type, but average is about 15 feet. Given all of that, and assuming your foundation is good to start with, I don't think you need to worry.
      Feel free to write back if you have more questions.

Gopher Tortoise seen on the beach. From: Phillip, Subject: Please Help Identify, Date: September 2, 2017
Is this a Gopher Tortoise? We saw this on the beach in Naples today. Some people were assuming it was a sea turtle, being on the beach and all, but it's clearly a tortoise. I wish I had shot video, because we've Googled it and cannot find any descriptions of what we saw. This thing walked maybe 60 yards or so down that beach and then headed to the water. I got splashed by a wave, which we expected to cause it to turn around. But it proceeded into the water and after maybe five minutes was floating and headed out to sea. The last time I saw it was about 15 minutes later when it had gotten maybe 50-75 from shore. Sorry the picture isn't great. In hindsight, wish I had shot video of it going for a swim.
Thanks, - Phillip

Hi Phillip,
      Yes, it's a gopher tortoise, and this ocean swimming behavior is something they do. I don't get it, but it's been documented many times. Some people think it might be a way for them to get rid of parasites. I just wonder if they get too far from shore and can't get back, or if they can float long enough to wash in somewhere. Gopher tortoises are not known for their swimming ability. It would be a great research question for a college student!

From: Arnold, Subject: Age Of Gopher Tortoises, Date: September 1, 2017
Is there a way to tell the age of Gopher Tortoises? If so how is it done?

      The only way to distinguish the different age classes is by size, so it is not an exact science. If the tortoise's top shell is 2.5 inches or less, is soft and yellow, the tortoise is considered to be a hatchling. A tortoise that is around 3.25 inches is a juvenile and could be between 2 and 10 years old. Around 5 years old, the shell gets hard and becomes brown. A subadult tortoise is between 10 ­ 20 years old and is not yet reproductively active. It will be 3.5 ­ 7.5 inches. An adult tortoise is 20+ years old and can be more than 15 inches long.
      All that being said, the sizes are variable depending on where the tortoise is from (larger animals in the northern part of the range), diet, and probably many other factors we have not yet discovered.
      Feel free to write me back if you have more questions.

From: David, Subject: {Digging under house}, Date: August 22, 2017
How can I prevent gopher turtles from digging under my house what is a natural deterrent

      There is no natural deterrent that I am aware of that will persuade a tortoise not to dig if it wants to dig. You could try burying something 12 ­ 18 inches below the surface around your house. When the tortoises start to dig, they will hit something hard and give up.
      If you are concerned about the tortoise hurting your house, I don't think you need to be. Their burrows go in at a 45 degree angle, so they get deep pretty quickly, and the burrow is only as wide as the tortoise. Unless you are already having foundation issues, I don't believe a tortoise digging under your house will cause a problem.

never saw one here before. From: Jerry, Subject: gopher tortoise, Date: August 21, 2017
We just found this gopher tortoise in our front yard. When I went inside to get my camera, it "ran" into the back yard, like it knew where it was going. It had to squeeze underneath our chain link fence. I need to know what to do. I am worried he will get trapped in our back yard. In the 20 years we have lived in this neighborhood, we have never seen any evidence of gopher tortoises. We live in Duval County, Florida (Jacksonville)

Hi Jerry,
      He looked like he knew where he was going because he did! Gopher tortoises have an amazing ability to find their way around and get back to where they want to be. There is nothing for you to do, and please don't block the holes under the fence. He probably has a burrow nearby and was just checking out the real estate. If you keep your lawn mowed, he will likely be back.

Tortoise in city limits. From: Angela, Subject: Question: {city limits}, Date: August 21, 2017
Yes we found a gopher turtle in Columbus Georgia in the city limits and I am concerned about releasing it. Is there an area in Georgia we can take it?

      I would first look around the near vicinity where you found the tortoise and see if there is any area with habitat (trees, open ground, burrows). If so, let him go there. If not, please do not drive him somewhere else and release him. That is a good way to spread disease and disrupt the social hierarchy in an existing tortoise colony. Call the Nongame Wildlife section of Georgia Department of Natural Resources and ask their advice, or take him to a local wildlife rehabilitator.
      Please contact me if you have more questions.

From: Jerry, Subject: gopher tortoise {anything to do?}, Date: August 21, 2017
We just found this gopher tortoise in our front yard. When I went inside to get my camera, it "ran" into the back yard, like it knew where it was going. It had to squeeze underneath our chain link fence. I need to know what to do. I am worried he will get trapped in our back yard. In the 20 years we have lived in this neighborhood, we have never seen any evidence of gopher tortoises. We live in Duval County, Florida (Jacksonville)

Hi Jerry,
      He looked like he knew where he was going because he did! Gopher tortoises have an amazing ability to find their way around and get back to where they want to be. There is nothing for you to do, and please don't block the holes under the fence. He probably has a burrow nearby and was just checking out the real estate. If you keep your lawn mowed, he will likely be back.

From: Tom, Subject: 2 tortoises in the same burrow, Date: August 14, 2017
we have several tortoises on and around our property of various sizes. we have marked, named them and just observed them for 40+ years. i just observed one today do something i've never seen them do. it traveled a long ways thru the wood, the yard and back to thru the woods to the back corner of the property where there was a burrow and another tortoise. the one that was waiting there slid into the burrow and shortly after the other one followed it down the burrow. i am curious as to what this behavior is. never seen this before.
Lithia, Fl. Tom

Hi Tom,
      We learned from radiotracking gopher tortoises that they quite commonly share burrows. One might expect that it would be males and females, but we found that it was most often two males (at least in our data set).

Go Bolts?

From: Chris, Subject: {Farm with} Gopher tortoise., Date: August 12, 2017
What if I want to farm my land but I have Gopher tortoise?

      What state and county do you live in?

From: willie, Subject: What is the fine for killing a gopher tortoise, Date: August 12, 2017

      Here is the link to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web page about rules and regulations.

From: Amanda, Subject: Buying a vacant lot for future home - gopher tortoises, Date: July 31, 2017
Hello, My husband and I are looking at a residential lot to build a home on. We walked the property and noticed 5 gopher tortoise burrows. Can we have the tortoises relocated before we buy the lot? Someone told us we have to have a building permit BEFORE we can have them relocated? Thank you so much for advice you can us!

      I don't know the answer to your question, but here is a link to the FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website that has development/permitting information. If you don't find what you need there, you can call and get answers.

From: Veronica, Subject: Gopher Tortoise in yard, Date: July 30, 2017
Please send me info about sharing a yard with a gopher tortoise mentioned in so many of your posts. Your work on this site is greatly appreciated.

Hi Veronica,
      Thanks for the kind words. I enjoy helping conserve tortoises through this site, and it's nice to hear when people use the information.
      I have attached the workbook chapter. It was written by a friend of mine and is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
      Feel free to write back if you have questions.

From: Uwe, Subject: Photo from Property of tortoise, Date: July 26, 2017
Wondering if this is a Gopher Tortoise, wife and I just bought this property and we are 50 % completed with a home, and I saw this guy on the property. Seemed shy and moved quickly to a large burrow in the ground.

      Yes, it is a gopher tortoise. Here are a couple of links to websites with good information.

From: Wyman, Subject: Re: Gopher Tortoise {how big}, Date: July 23, 2017
How big can they get? One showed up on my land that is really big (15 to 20in long). He/she is 27 in. long. I live close to High Springs Fl. Not far from Oleno State park.
I see them all the time here, but never one this big.
Thanks, Wyman

      That is not a gopher tortoise. Even a big gopher is about 15 inches. It is probably an African spurred tortoise. They are the third largest tortoise species in the world and are popular in the pet trade. Very often they escape from their owners or are released when they start getting too big.
      If you can catch it, please do, because it will not survive on its own in the wild. Maybe the owner is looking for it. If not, try to find a zoo, nature center, or reptile enthusiast to take it; your local animal control may be able to help you find someone.
      Let me know if you need more information.
            Thanks, Becky

From: Kiersten, Subject: Can a gopher turtle climb a chain link fence?, Date: July 20, 2017
Central Florida, Seminole County.
We discovered a gopher turtle in our backyard this morning which is super cool, but we can't figure out where he came from. This is actually the 3rd time it has happened over the last 15 years we have lived in our home. We have a fallen tree leaning on the fence in the corner of the yard but it looks pretry treacherous for a tortoise to climb. He looks healthy and happy and I hope he decides to make a burrow. We are just curious....

Hi Kiersten,
      I seriously doubt it climbed in. If you look all around the perimeter of the fence, I'll be you will find a little scooped out place where it's going in and out.

What tortoise is this? From: Larry, Date: July 19, 2017, Subject: Photo
Tortoise is back in my yard today. Is this an usual event this far north? We sre in the foothills of Appalachians.

      You are located outside the gopher tortoise's range.
      I believe this is an African spurred tortoise; they are often sold in pet stores and end up escaping from their owners or are released. It will definitely not survive there. You might try checking around to find the owner, or find a wildlife rehabilitator, nature center, or zoo that would agree to adopt it. Your local animal control may have a lead on where to take it. Make sure that they understand what they are getting. This is the 3rd largest tortoise species in the world (the one you have is a youngster), so it will get very large and dig huge holes. They have very specific housing needs and require lots of room.
      He does not look very healthy and has likely been wandering around for a while. Please try to take him somewhere. Let me know if you can't find a place.

      What county/state are you in? Can you email me some more pictures, especially straight on of the front?
            Thank you,       Becky

Gopher Tortoise swimming in ocean From: Kathryn, Subject: Swimming Tortoises, Date: July 6, 2017
Do you still want photos of gopher tortoises swimming? This picture was taken last night 2 miles south of the Crescent Beach intersection. Some girls picked him up and took him up to the dunes, whether they should have or not. It was on July 5, 2017 and it was a hot day. Do you think they cool off in the ocean? Thanks. Kathy

Hi Kathy,
      These are great pictures and I would like to keep them. Did you take them? I will put the photographer's first initial and last name on them.
      Nobody knows for sure why tortoises go into the ocean, but it may very well be to cool off. There is also some thought that it helps get rid of external parasites like ticks.
            Thanks,       Becky

From: Diane, Subject: gopher Turtle, Date: June 10, 2017
Do Gopher Turtle go out in the mid day sun? Can they over heat in the mid day sun in FL during the Summer? I moved one off the road for safety and it started blowing bubbles. I left it alone, in the same place and it seemed fine as it crawled away.
Thank you!

      Gopher tortoises are adapted to living in hot, sunny places. However, they typically avoid the warmest part of the day by going into their burrows. The tortoise you found was probably blowing bubbles because it was stressed from heat and/or sitting in the road. Thank you for moving him to the nearby grass and not taking him somewhere far away.
      He likely headed home to his burrow to cool off.
      Thanks again for caring.

exposed Gopher Tortoise eggs From: mannventures, Subject: Eggs, Date: June 3, 2017
I threw soil over the eggs. We have LOTS of racoons here. Would it be good to fence the spot for several months?

      It is doubtful that they will hatch since they are not in a typical nest. They may have been shed by the female if they weren't fertile to start with. All that being said, incubation time is about 90 days, so it wouldn't hurt to keep them safe for that long, just in case.

From: "Richard, Subject: build {a home}, Date: June 5, 2017
I want to build a home on my 2.5 acres in Saint Cloud Florida I have 2 gopher Tortoise on the fence line on two sides of property how far from burrow can I build. Im puting in grasses and plants that they eat and try to keep them around and give them protection.
thank you rich

Hi Rich,
      It's 25 ft. Here is a link to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission site that will have information you will be able to use.
      Feel free to write back if you have questions.

From: Janie, Subject: Bubbles from a Tortoise, Date: May 29, 2017
I observed a gopher tortoise in my back yard that appeared to be blowing bubbles (drooling). We have had so much dry weather here in the west central part of Florida. Could it have been thirsty? I would hate to think it might have been uncomfortable or suffering.
Thanks, Janie

Hi Janie,
      There are several reasons the tortoise could have been blowing bubbles. It might have just been hot or stressed, or it could have been ill. Keep your eyes open for it and if you see it again doing the same thing, you might want to take it to a wildlife rehabilitator for a check.
      Thanks, Becky

From: Sharon, Subject: Gopher tortoise making home next to busy highway, Date: May 31, 2017
A gopher tortoise made its home next to a busy highway should he be relocated

      Even though it might not be the smartest spot for a burrow, relocation is still not feasible. No matter where you put him, he's going to try to come home and will likely get hit. Most tortoises have several burrows, so, hopefully, he'll relocate himself to somewhere safer.

From: Joyce, Subject: history, Date: May 12, 2017
I am volunteering at a Pioneer Day Camp at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park this summer. One of the thing we will be teaching is how the early settlers and Seminoles utilized the wild life. Do you know any historical facts along these lines in reference to the gopher tortoise. Or any legions the Indians may have had? 

Hi Joyce,
      The Native Americans revered turtles and called Earth "Turtle Island". There is a whole lot of information about that online if you search on Native Americans and turtles. I am also pretty sure that the local Indians (e.g., Ais, Seminoles) would have eaten gopher tortoises when they had the opportunity.

From: Kim, Subject: {Where to see babies?}, Date: May 13, 2017
We just saw 2 turtles going into a hole I looked up turtles of Florida I'm thinking there's are Gopher. We just moved here from the Lake Tahoe area of Nevada they are good sized turtles could you tell me when we could see some babys. I was so excited to see them and I also know that they are protected so I won't bother them.
Thank you, Kim Appleton. Animal Lover

Hi Kim,
      The two turtles you saw go into the burrow may or may not have been a male and a female. Lots of times, two turtles of the same sex will hang out together in the same burrow. That being said, it is mating season, so females will be digging holes to deposit eggs that will hatch later in the summer. They don't lay the eggs inside the burrow, but often in the sand pile (apron) in front of the burrow.
      Welcome to Florida and feel free to write me back if you have more questions. I have attached links to a couple more web sites that have good gopher tortoise information. Enjoy!

From: Nathan, Subject: Safely remove or relocate, Date: May 22, 2017
I purchase a foreclosed house that has been empty for awhile (unknown time) in Palm Bay.
I notice a hole in the yard and covered it. Came back a week later to work on the house and it was open again. One day notice a turtle in the lot outside my fence and did not think anything about it. A few days later noticed a repair man noticed one in my fenced yard eating away next to my pool. He told me to be careful because they are protected.
WELL, my landscape is being cleaned up while I'm packing up to move down. They said the covered the same hole in the yard and it was uncovered a few days later. Now Monday 5-22-17 they sent me a picture of the same lititle one in my pool. They remove him from the pool and set him in the yard and they let me know he went right to the hole in the yard.
I do have two dogs coming with me, will this keep him away? But I don't want my dog's to hurt the turtle or I don't want the Turtle to hurt my dogs.
What do I do and/or what are my options.
Thank You for your time

Hi Nathaniel,
      Here is a link to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web page on gopher tortoises. It has information on tortoise biology, habitat, legal requirements, and how to get a permit to have a tortoise relocated, if that is what you decide to do.
      Look over that site and write me back if you have questions or want more information.
Just so you know, the tortoise can't hurt your dogs. They don't have any teeth. Please keep an eye on the dogs so they don't hurt the tortoise.
      Thanks,             Becky

From: walkssoftly777, Subject: Gopher tortoise {When return to den?}, Date: May 18, 2017
When I moved into my new home it was a gopher tortoise den outback on our property line and when I noticed that the tortoise was still in it we have done everything we can to make sure that its home is preserved. My question to you is does the turtle sleep and its den every night? We have seen it leave its whole many times but also we don't ever see it come back so we never know when it is back. Does it always return back to its den? And is it good for us to put out fresh lettuce and blueberries and things like that for the gopher tortoise? We just want her to have the best chance possible at surviving and we want to make sure that her home stays intact.

Hi Penny
      Gopher tortoises are primarily active during the day and go back into their burrows at night. However, they typically have more than one burrow in their home range, so the tortoise may be going elsewhere sometimes.
      It is not good to feed "people food" to tortoises because they have very complex dietary requirements. If they fill up on food that you give them, they are not out foraging for food that they really need. I have attached a chapter from a workbook written by a friend of mine that explains how to make your yard more attractive and beneficial to tortoises. It is copyrighted material, so use it for your own discretion only, please.
      Have fun!             Becky

From: "Sentry Mini Storage Inc." Subject: gophers eating roots, Date: May 3, 2017
Do gopher turtle eat roots of bushes as a water source? Recently ive noticed 4 bushes have died while on each side they survive. right in the middle of the dead bushes is the turtles hole. just wondering if I have a sprinkler issue or a turtle one. If turtle than oh well for the bushes. I know the rules. thanks Aaron

Hi Aaron,
      That is an interesting question. Tortoises keep the earth packed down pretty well along the burrow tunnel so the roots aren't sticking out, so I think the answer is no. Because they don't have teeth, it would probably be very difficult for them to gnaw into any decent-sized root; they prefer soft, short grasses, herbs, and other leafy plants. Now if the bushes were there first and the burrow is new, the digging may have damaged the roots. Tortoises can dig through about anything.
      Hope this is helpful. Write back if you have other questions. And thanks for knowing/following the rules. J             Becky

From: Joan, Subject: Gogher tortoise in danger, Date: May 1, 2017
Tortoise was being played with by dog and house owners thought was funny. Today found tortoise in hot sun upside down. Hydrated him with bottled water i had on hand. Hes in an outside run at my home safe now Can you tell me what to do with him. Hes got swimming water vegtables In a earth type enclosure inside fence. Know it ilkegal to have as pet. We have chicen two ducks a lots cats at our rescue. Dont just want to carry him to somewhere dangerous

      He needs to be released somewhere in the near vicinity of where you caught him. Please do that in the mid-morning or late afternoon so he can find his burrows. If your neighbors continue to let their dogs harass him, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hotline and report them. You can remain anonymous. 888-404-3922

From: Richard, Subject: Gopher Tortoise {Protect in small park}, Date: April 27, 2017
Hi Becky ­
I have a question about gopher tortoise for you --
Hypothetically; What if you discovered a small population of gopher tortoises in a 100m x 110m area inside a 10 hectare patch of unprotected pinrockland in Miami dade county. An initial cenus reveled 75 indaviduals in the population.
Should this parcel be established as a protected area or is it too small to protect this population
What suggestions would you for designing and managing the park that would increase the chances for survivial of the species
What types of activities would be permitted with in the protected area please include at least two different zones
And a diagrm to help display your park design
Thanks for your considerations

Hi Rich,
      I would (hypothetically) start with the south district office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ( Ask for a gopher tortoise biologist and explain the situation to them. Hopefully, they can give you some guidance (or at least tell you who to call next). If not, write me back.

From: Todd, Subject: Gopher Tortoise Collapsed my Sidewalk, Date: April 26, 2017
TD, Sebastian, FL.
I have a gopher tortoise that has collapsed my sidewalk in front of a my house. The sidwalk is now dangerous to walk around, and I'm afraid someone may get hurt, especially as I have young kids that play outside. What are my options?
Thanks!       Todd

Hi Todd,
      You can get a permit to have the tortoise relocated. Go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tortoise permit site ( You will want the "10 or fewer burrows" permit type. There are also resources there to help find someone in your area to do the work. Check it out and write me back if you have questions or concerns.

African spurred tortoise From: Donna, Subject: Can a gopher tortoise grow to 2ft long?, Date: April 25, 2017
We have a new neighbor that is a tortoise. We thought it was a gopher but everything we read says they average 12". This fellas shell is 23". Wondering how old it might be. It has set up shop in a neighbors yard where it is making a nest it appears. Has no fear of humans. Walks around us and wanders through our yards. Sending photos. Awaiting your answer.,BR. Donna

Hi Donna,
      It's not a gopher tortoise; it's an African spurred tortoise. See these fact sheets:;
      Depending on where you are located, it might not be able to survive the winter. I would suggest finding it a home (after you read the fact sheet so you know what you're dealing with) or turning it over to a wildlife rehabilitator, zoo, herpetological society, nature center, etc.
      Write me back if you have questions.

From: Christy, Subject: Gopher with soft shell, Date: April 25, 2017
  My dog was playing with a small gopher. It's fits in my hand. The reason I'm sending you this is we have gophers everywhere out here where I live but I've never seen one with a soft shell. The gopher was crying when my dog pick it up. I took the gopher away and that's when I realized its shell was so soft. My dog stays inside not outside.

      The tortoise probably hatched last year. Their shells stay soft until they are around five years old. Please look it over thoroughly to see if there are any puncture wounds, and if there are, take it to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator. Write me back if you need help finding one and include your state and county location.
      Thank you,             Becky

Two tortoises from the same burrow. From: Ashley, Subject: Mating or fighting?, Date: April 22, 2017
I have a tortoise burrow on the edge of my property. Today I noticed a tortoise in my back yard. So I placed it near the mouth of the burrow thinking it couldn't figure out how to get home. Didn't realize there was already a tortoise in the burrow. So I witnessed some head bobbing. Then the one in the hole chased the other one away.
Do you think this was a male trying to mate or two females fighting? I rolled them over. Couldn't distinguish if they were male or female. I'll try to attach a picture. Thanks for your time!

      We know that males will be aggressive toward each other, as will females. Sounds like you put an intruder outside the burrow and the owner ran it off.
      Please don't pick up, turn over, move, etc., the tortoises, even if you are trying to help. Besides being illegal, it is not good for them, and the best thing you can do is let them be.
      Thank you,       Becky

From: Amanda, Subject: buried baby gopher turtle, Date: April 24, 2017
My my name is Amanda I'm from the USA Florida. I have a lot of gopher turtles in my yard of all different sizes. I had a baby gopher turtle whom made his hole at the bottom of an old tree stump. We had some construction work done on the side of the house and his whole ended up buried under the dirt. Will the turtle be okay will the turtle be able to dig himself out. Will the turtle re- dig their hole tin the same place or do you think he'll move if he survived being buried. Any info would be appreciated.
Thank you

      There is some evidence that gopher tortoises can dig themselves out of a collapsed burrow, but I can't tell you whether or not your tortoise will. It depends on the amount of dirt, what kind of dirt, the ability of the tortoise, etc. The only thing I can suggest is that you keep an eye on the area and see if a hole opens up.

From: Debra, Subject: Two gophers in one hole, Date: April 18, 2017
The other day I did see my big gopher turtle outside my gate. I don't know if this is the one that usually lives in my yard. Well for awhile he eas gone and i dont know if it's him.Its a big male. Awhile ago i found a small male in my yard and put it by the empty burrow. and it has stayed there,but when i found the big ine out by my gate I brought in my yard and put it by the burrow. Now today i noticed them face to face bobbing thete heads up and down. I dont know whats going on. I should have never brought that big one to the burrow. I don't know if thats the big one that lived there for all those years. Because for a long time he was gone. So now what.I have a baby one in my front yard and I found another new born on my sidewalk upside down the other day. I put him in the garden so he took off fast. I don't know whee he went.
So there are two big males and two babies. Will the males try to kill each other for the burrow. Because when i went to look at them today they both ran into the burrow. So i dont know whats going on with them. Please tell me whats going on and will they both stay in one burrow or fight it out. One male is real big and other one is smaller. I guess i should have never touched them since they will go back to there real burrow. But i dont know why the big one was at my fence. I didn't want him to get hit by a car or have him killed or stolen. What do you think will happen with these two males. Help

      It is quite common for two tortoises to use the same burrow, especially if they think something is about to get them. Please don't move them around unless you feel that they are in serious danger (for example, near traffic). It is not likely that they will kill each other, but they will definitely establish a pecking order. One of them will claim ownership of the burrow and the other one will dig another burrow (or more) elsewhere. If they are living near each other, they'll probably share sometimes. And apparently, there is a female in the near vicinity, so you may end up with a family!
      Thank you for caring about them. Gopher tortoises need people like you!

From: hankhector, Subject: {swim?}, Date: April 15, 2017
Can a gopher tortoise survive if it fell in the water?

      Depends on the water. Tortoises can swim/wade a little, and they will go into the ocean, ditches, etc. However, if a tortoise fell into a body of water where it couldn't climb out, it would likely eventually get exhausted and drown.

From: John, Subject: Tortoise, Date: April 14, 2017
Do gopher tortoise have a exit hole ?

      The burrows have one entrance/exit.

From: sandiarcher70, Subject: Unmoving gopher tortoise, Date: April 14, 2017
We live on Pasco/Hernando l County Line in Florida. We have a rather large gopher tortoise that has been laying against our house for at least 7 hrs, and it's night now. He's alive, but not moving. No sign of injury by visual exam (no handling). What to do? As I understand it's illegal to touch/move, etc one in FL, but this seems weird for a tortoise. Earlier I thought it was just grazing & then trying to hide from my dog (a chihuahua & no, the dog didn't notice or get him). Is there a hospital I can take him to if he's sick? 
Thank You, Sandra

      Is the tortoise still there?

From: Kelly, Subject: Best Time To See Gopher Tortoise, Date: April 13, 2017
Hi Becky,
I'm going to visit my dad in Bonita Springs next week and am planning a visit to Barefoot Beach ... home to many gopher tortoises. I've been to the beach and seen lots of tortoises and also been there and not seen a single one. I'm wondering if there is a best time of day and/or weather to actually see the turtles out and about? Thanks so much for your help!

      Hi Kelly,
      It depends on the air temperature. Go look when the sun is warm, but not in the heat of the day. This time of year, late morning and mid-afternoon (2 - 3ish) are best.
      Good luck! Becky

From: Jeremy, Subject: {More than on e exit?}, Date: April 9, 2017
I have a gopher tortoise living in my backyard. Do they have more than one exit if not how are you gonna know if it still living in the hole? I found it etting and it poo poo in the porch

      There is only one entrance/exit to the burrow. It is difficult to know for sure if a tortoise is inside a burrow, but once they stop using it, it will eventually cave in.

From: Wendy, Subject: Gopher Tortoise relocation assistance, Date: March 22, 2017
We bought a lot to put our mfg home on and found after that we will have to relocate the gopher tortoises that have taken up residence. The cost is going to wipe out our savings. Is these any grants or financial assistance programs for help with this thanks.

      I don't know where you got your information, but the most reliable source is on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website (link below). Look that over and then write me back with the location (state and county) of the property.
      Things you may not know: If you can keep development of the property 25 ft or more away from tortoise burrows, you do not need to relocate.
      Relocations of 5 or fewer tortoises (10 burrows) are much easier to permit and are less expensive.

From: Carol, Subject: Baby, Date: March 22, 2017
Found a baby tortoise in the yard, what should we do?

      Leave it alone and it will, hopefully, find its way home. Keep your pets and children from bothering it.
            Thanks, Becky

An African Spiked tortoise & a gopher tortoise hatchling From: 3528437838, Subject, Subject {Tortoiss on my property}, Date: March 18, 2017
I currently live in Orange Springs, Florida. There are many gopher tortoise living on the 30 acres I reside on, most of which is undesturbed by anything but wildlife. I have seen all sizes of them here. This one is believed to be an African Spiked tortoise. It's about 32" long. The smaller one was just found wondering about yesterday afternoon. It's only 2 & 1/2 inches long.
From second eMail, same day:
I thought the gophers would have hatched in September so I am trying to find out if the little could have hatched in September or more recently. Thank you. Deanna

      It is too early for this year's hatchlings. From the appearance and size, I am guessing it hatched last year.

Out gopher tortoise eating lettuce From: Jodi, Subject: Older Gopher Turtle Not Returning Home, Date: March 15, 2017
Hi... We live on acreage and left much of it uncleared. We do have a few gopher turtles that took up residence and have been with us for 12 years. Recently one older one has stopped returning to it's den and he barely moves around or moves slow. He does not appear to have that upper respiratory issue and he will eat. I have started taking lettuce (romaine) to him and he will eat all of it. I also watered the surrounding grasses, weeds etc since we hadn't had much rain. He did proceed to drink water from the puddles I created for him. Is there anything I can do to help him, we are going to have a few cold nights and he just crawls under a palmetto bush for safe keeping. I know where his den is, but hesitate to carry him there for fear he won't be able to crawl back to the grassier area where he is now. 
Just an FYI... feeding the turtles is not something we regularly do, just this past week in this ones case because he appeared weak, hungry and dehydrated. 
We are in the Central Florida area. Here's a photo of him eating some lettuce I set out (just what was on hand). He looks healthy and since he drank water, he know retracts back in his shell some where as before he just hung his head out over his shell and one day I thought he had died. Then he blinked at me and that's when I decided to give him water and lettuce. He seemed so lethargic. 
Thanks for any suggestions, maybe he is just really old?

Hi Jodi,
      If he is still hanging around outside of a burrow, please get him to a wildlife hospital or rehabilitator. It has been way too chilly for him to be out and may be ill. If you need help finding somewhere to take him, please write me back.
      Thanks, Becky

From: Kathalena, Subject: Sick gopher tortoise, Date: March 12, 2017
He was put in an aquarium with a water turtle he got into to the water did the turtle get him sick he won't eat and he is vary inactive I have a vet appointment for Monday morning I don't know what to do in tell then

      Get him to a vet ASAP.
           Thank you, Becky

From: Nate, Subject: {When open eyes?}, Date: March 6, 2017

      As soon as they hatch from the egg.

From: William, Subject: What should I do, now?, Date: March 5, 2017 Dear Gopher Tortoise Helper...
I live in SE Florida (near the coast), been in this house 18 years
I am now tearing-out an old deck & Jacuzzi (at ground-level) (deck was about 12' x 25' or so) right next to our house
I KNEW there were turtles under this deck, - never thought much about it (there are at least 2-5 in other parts of the yard, and the yards on both sides...)
HOWEVER, now that I've got most of the decking removed from the deck, I find the Tortoises have excavated UNDER the concrete slab that forms the floor for the master bedroom...
so - there is, now, now supporting soil under that (concrete) slab...
I have two questions:
  1. if I just put some dirt in the burrow-hole (under the slab (when he's not there)) as well as in the access-holes (to get under the Jacuzzi deck) - will the tortoise find another place to make a burrow, or will have un-intentionally harmed him?
  2. what should I do about the un-supported-slab (or you're not a concrete guy, but I need a concrete guy's opinion?)
Thank YOU! - Bill

Hi Bill,
      Please do not put dirt into the burrows or any other holes. Unless you have a burrow camera and experience using one, you cannot know for sure that the burrow is empty.
      Regarding the slab, I have heard of and seen many, many instances of tortoises digging under concrete slabs, and not once have I found out about damage to a structure. Burrows are typically 15 ­ 20 feet long and go into the ground at a 45o angle. They are only as wide as the tortoise that digs them, with a space at the bottom big enough to turn around. It is very unlikely that a burrow underneath you bedroom floor is going to cause any problems. However, I am not a concrete guy J. If you decide to call someone to look, make sure it is someone you can trust so that you get reliable information (i.e., not from a concrete salesperson). You might also call a tortoise person to come survey your burrows with a camera. If they are empty you could fill them in, but I won't promise that a tortoise won't come back to the same spot (or close by) and dig again.
      If you want to find a tortoise person, contact your regional biologist for recommendations:
      Feel free to write back if you need more information.

From: Leanne, Subject: Gopher Tortoise, Date: February 27, 2017
I have had what I now believe to be a gopher tortoise living in my back yard in a burrow for several months. In reading some of your info, yes, they stay in that burrow when it is cold and do not come out. I have grown quite attached to her and protective of her privacy and home. Today, I noticed a male at her burrow and she did come out to greet him, I have to assume it is male as he was shaking his head up and down kind of like a mating dance I suppose. They both went into the burrow so I am assuming there will be babies. I do not feed nor go near the burrow, just watch to make sure no predators or harm will come to them. Is there anything I should be doing? As I said, I have become quite attached and learned so much from her behaviors. Loves to eat the grass in my yard and she seems comfortable and happy. Not sure what will happen now with the male on board?

Hi Leanne,
            Sounds like a great situation! However, I wouldn't be too sure that you have a female and a male. When we radiotracked tortoises here on Kennedy Space Center in the 1990s, we found that when there were two tortoises in one burrow, it was usually two males.
            And the head-bobbing thing is often a sign of aggression between males or between females. All that being said, it may be a mated pair (tortoises rarely follow the "rules"). My suggestion is that you continue to enjoy from a distance, keep pets or kids away from the burrow, and wait to see what happens. If she lays eggs, it might be in the apron of the burrow (sandy mound in front), so keep your eyes open for signs of mating, digging a hole for the eggs, and hatching in 90 days after laying. It is important not to get close to the burrow so that your scent does not attract predators like feral cats or raccoons.
      Good luck, have fun, and feel free to write back if you have questions or other observations.

From: kerby, Subject: Hi, I was given a little baby Tortoise, Date: February 22, 2017

He's about 2 inches long . Every one says he's a gophorus.
He stopped eating and has yellow lesions on his body and neck
He was eating great and super adorable have had him about 2 monthes . Going to the vet tomorrow.
So hoping he can be saved he's so adorable if you know anything about this or anything else I can do let me know and thank you

      Did you take the tortoise to the vet?

From: "Stafford, Jessica, Subject: Gopher Tortoises, Date: February 22, 2017

Hello, Was looking at buying a lot and need to find out if lot is marked for gopher tortoises. It is Brevard County, FL. Who would I talk to to see if any documentation shows that they are there or not? Thank you, Jessica

Hi Jessica,
      You would need to have a survey done to know for sure. There is no centralized place that identifies tortoise areas. Where is the property located?

From: Lauren, Subject: inherited a Gopher tortoise, Date: January 21, 2017

Hi, Becky. I inherited a female gopher tortoise yesterday. My uncle passed away in December. He's had her since 1968, and she's lived in Manhattan, New York since. She has never been outside until today. I got a hold of fish and wildlife in Florida. I live in Huntington Beach, Calif. She was flown to Calif yesterday. She seems well. I put her in temped water to rehydrate her. She is like a two-year-old child. She is everywhere! I put her in a cat bed that has a heating pad. She seems to like that. Her mouth is different than the other Gopher Tortoises that I've seen. I'm guessing it's like a bird with a cuddle bone I can't see her lips so to speak. it is covered with a beak, so to speak.. She is very prehistoric looking, more so than the other specimens I've seen. So I was wondering if they hear well. It seems like she does. Anything you can help me with would be appreciated. I think I'm in love!! Lauren Tilbury

Hi Lauren,
      Would you please send me some pictures? Will she be housed inside or outside?
            Thanks, Becky

From: Kathy, Subject: Tortoise question, Date: January 19, 2017

I live in south Florida. I have a few gophers that have burrows on my property and have been at least four years. I saw one of the tortoises early this morning tucked in a palmetto patch. It has stayed right in that area all day and appears to be hunkered down for the night. Temperatures were in 50's last night and will be the same tonight. I have never seen this before - is there a reason to be concerned? Tortoise does not appear to have any injuries. I do have ability to call wildlife person if needed. Please let me know what you think.
Kathy Waters

      I just read your question; sorry I didn't get to it sooner. Is the tortoise still sitting out?

From: Angela, Subject: Is thiss gopher?, Date: January 17, 2017

 Ia this a Gopher Tortoise? This little guy was talking across my yard yesterday morning. Was I lucky enough to see a gopher? He/She's safe and out of harm's way. Definitely camera shy because when I walked up to it to take the pic, it immediately went into its shell.   If it isn't a gopher, what kind is it? I only see gopher's on your website.

Hi Angela,
      Yes, it's your lucky day! Gopher tortoise.

From: Carol, Subject: Tortoise, Date: January 15, 2017

Will you suggest some plants (preferably flowering) that gopher tortoises do NOT eat. My yard has 2 of them and they destroy everything I plant.

      Here is a chapter from a workbook written by a friend of mine. It has an exhaustive list of plants that tortoises do eat, so I would check if the plants you want are on that list. This is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
      Also, tortoises are low-to-the ­ground and can't feed on plants that are very tall or in pots.
            Good luck!, Becky

From: Robert, Subject: burrows, Date: January 3, 2017

we have empty lots on each side of our house and there are burrows on each side.we see them daily and they are always in our yard. we watch them and can see their burrows.what happens when the lots are eventually sold.who would know they are there.bob

Hi Bob,
      The laws and procedures differ, depending on where you live. What is your state and county?

From: NeilEuro, Subject: How big do they get?, Date: January 3, 2017

We have a huge Tortoise in our neighbourhood it appears to be female. She is about 125-150 lb. close to 3' long 2' wide & 18" tall. Any estimate on her age? How big do they get?
Thank you, Neil

      It is not a gopher tortoise, but an African spurred tortoise, an exotic species that is native to northern Africa. Also called the sulcata tortoise, they are the third largest tortoise species in the world. People often buy them as young hatchlings, not realizing how big they get or how much room they need to be healthy. The one you have found likely either escaped or was intentionally released. If you live anywhere that gets cold in the winter, it won't survive on its own.
      Keeping a sulcata is a big (no pun intended) responsibility. If you can capture it and are not interested in having it as a pet, please try to find a home for it (zoo, nature center, wildlife rehabilitator, etc.). If you can't figure out what to do with it, write me back and I will try to help.

From: Matt, Subject: Gopher tortoise is a fenced in backyard, Date: January 1, 2017

So we've spotted a gopher tortoise in our back yard and his burrow (which we previously thought was a hole from our dog) we're huge advocates for wildlife conservation and are looking for some tips or advice for making our backyard a sanctuary for this guy (adding Florida native plants for food etc) Also our yard is completely fenced in and I'm unsure how he got back there in the 1st place, do their burrows have multiple entrances? Maybe one on the other side of the fence? We live in Saint Lucie County, Florida.
  Thanks, Matt

Hi Matt,
      Am so glad you are happy to have a new neighbor! I have attached a chapter from a workbook that will help you make your yard attractive for the tortoise. It was written by a friend of mine and is copyrighted material, so use it for your own education only, please.
      Tortoise burrows typically have only one entrance/exit. Unless your fence is buried several inches beneath the surface of the ground, the tortoise probably dug under it and may be going back and forth.
      Feel free to write back if you have more questions.

From: jamesgude53, Subject: hibernate, Date: December 30, 2016

how long do gophers hibernate and at what temperature? 

      Hibernation is a long-term response to low food resources, shorter day length, and cooler temperatures. Gopher tortoises don't hibernate; however, they do have periods of decreased activity, especially in the winter. In the northern parts of their range, tortoises may remain inactive in their burrows for several months. In central and south Florida, they will be less active, but still come out of their burrows to feed on days when the temperature gets above 70 degrees F.

From: Brian Hoskins, Subject: Danger, Date: December 22, 2016  

A deep recess about 4'deep, 5' round ready to fall grandchildren play outside. I feel it very dangerous if they fell in.

      What state and county are you located in?



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