Sanibel Island in Lee County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
Gopher tortoise Gopherus polphemus
Length 8-15 inches (20-38cm)
Weight: Up to 30lbs (14 kg) average 8-10lbs (4-5kg)
Color: Adults are grayish brown, and juveniles area a yellowish brown.
Legs and feet: Front legs and feet are flat and shovel like which helps them dig their burrows, back legs and feet are elephantine.
No webbing is present between toes.
Three key requirements:
1. Dry upland habitat with sandy, well drained soils for ideal burrowing and nesting.
2. Open tree canopy so that plenty of sunlight reaches the ground.
3. Low growing food plants for their herbaceous (plant-only) diet including gopher apple and purple love grass.
Mating Season: April through July
Females reach between 10-20 years old.
Females lay a clutch of 4-7 ping-pong ball sized eggs which are buried in the ground. Gestation:80-100 days
Sex is determined by temperature of the soil. Eggs> F 85 (30C) develop into females, < 85 F develop into males.
Hatchlings are 1-2 inches (3-5cm) and grown 3/4 inches a year.
Gopher tortoise burrow provide a home and refuge to over 350 vertebrate and invertebrate species.
Many share the burrow with the tortoise or use abandoned burrows.
Used to regulate body temperature and as shelter from predators and wildfires.
Up to 50ft (15 m) long and 15ft (5 m) deep, depending on water table. Width is about the length of the tortoise.
Aron (or Mound) in front of the burrow is often used as nesting site.
Multiple burrows may be used by individual tortoises.
Burrows provide shelter from heat, cold, fire and safe place to raise young.
Why did the gopher tortoise cross the road?
To get to the other side! probable to graze
What can you do to help?
Watch the road for crossing tortoises
Do not take or move them
Plant native plants in their habitat.
If you find them near water, leave them on land.
.They live for more than 89 years.
.They right themselves if flipped over.
.They socialize in groups called pods.
.They eat bones form dead animals, presumably to get calcium
.They dig up to 9ft a day in sandy soils
.They have a good sense of smell.
Conservation & Status
Gopher tortoises are a protected species
Their populations are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, vehicle strikes, and predation by invasive species.
Made possible by the Lee County Tourist Development Council
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Environment • Horticulture & Forestry.
Location. 26° 27.142′ N, 82° 0.855′ W. Marker is in Sanibel Island, Florida, in Lee County. Marker can be reached from Periwinkle Way. Marker is at Sanbile Lighthouse Beach Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 110/153 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel FL 33957, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Beach is a wild place (within shouting distance of this marker); Sea Turtles on Sanibel (within shouting distance of this marker); Mollusks and the Environment (within shouting distance of this marker); Sanibel & Everglades Restoration (within shouting distance of this marker); Molluscan Reproduction and Egg Case (within shouting distance of this marker); Sanibel Lighthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Plants and Progress (approx. 5.4 miles away); People and Plants (approx. 5.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sanibel Island.
Also see . . . Gopher Tortoise. opher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Gopher tortoises share these burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species. Conservation of gopher tortoises depends not only on the efforts of FWC and other conservation groups, but also on Florida's citizens. There are many ways to co-exist with these gentle land tortoises. (Submitted on July 29, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2017. It was originally submitted on July 29, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 93 times since then and 3 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on July 29, 2017, by Sandra Hughes of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.