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Gopher tortoise

Gopherus polyphemus

Description:

The gopher tortoise is a fairly large terrestrial turtle which possesses forefeet well adapted for burrowing, and elephantine hind feet. These features are common to most tortoises. The front legs have scales to protect the tortoise while burrowing. They are dark brown to gray-black in overall color, with a yellow plastron (bottom shell). A gular projection is evident on the anterior plastron where the head projects out from the shell. Sexual dimorphism is evident, with male gopher tortoises having concave plastrons, while those of females are flat. In addition, the gular projection on male plastrons is generally longer than in females. Carapace length can range from 20 to 30 cm (7.9 to 12 in), with a height (to the peak of the shell at the middle of the body) of 15–37 cm (5.9–15 in). Body mass averages 4 kg (8.8 lb), with a range of 2–6 kg (4.4–13 lb).[

Notes:

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is a species of the Gopherus genus native to the southeastern United States. The gopher tortoise is seen as a keystone species because it digs burrows that provide shelter for 360 other animal species. They are threatened by predation and habitat destruction. The gopher tortoise is a representative of the genus Gopherus, which contains the only tortoises native to North America. This species of gopher tortoise is the state reptile of Georgia and the state tortoise of Florida

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JasonHarris
Spotted by
JasonHarris

Florida, USA

Spotted on Sep 19, 2012
Submitted on Sep 19, 2012

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