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Gopher tortoise

Gopherus polyphemus


This particular tortoise scampered about quickly through the grass. It was shy and did not engage in head-bobbing, which is an aggressive behavior that precedes ramming its adversary. You can fit a juvenile gopher tortoise in your hands, but adults can weigh up to 15 pounds.


Tortoise was seen at Honeymoon Island State Park, a barrier island off the western coast of Florida. The gopher tortoise relies on areas with sandy soil (like the one pictured) and longleaf forests.


Longleaf forests are rare and declining. This tortoise is considered a keystone species due to its propensity for digging burrows that can house hundreds of other animals such as burrowing owls or indigo snakes. Gopherus polyphemus is threatened and listed as vulnerable by the IUCN because of habitat loss and predation.

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mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 12 months ago

Thanks, jazz.mann!

jazz.mann 12 months ago

great shots, great notes. thanks!

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 12 months ago

Thank you, Ainsley!

Ainsley Stinson
Ainsley Stinson 12 months ago

Wonderful spotting! The first picture is an excellent shot!

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 3 years ago

Thank you, Tukup! I hope you find a tortoise too. Surely, you’ll outrun him! 😅

Tukup 3 years ago

Great series Mauna. And great notes. Thanks for sharing. I'll be on the lookout for butting tortoises. I should still be able to outrun them :-)

mauna Kunzah
mauna Kunzah 3 years ago

Thank you, Neil! My pleasure. In the NatGeo article, someone describes how the tortoise tried to ward off a human by ramming the person’s leg lol. It’s cute aggression.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

Wonderful spotting, muana. I really like its defense strategy. If it also involve lots of snapping, it's a winning combination. Thanks for sharing.

mauna Kunzah
Spotted by
mauna Kunzah

Dunedin, Florida, United States

Spotted on Dec 17, 2017
Submitted on Apr 23, 2019

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