Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Gopher Tortoise

Gopherus polyphemus


Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) at Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna Beach, Florida.


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 Gopher tortoises are herbivore scavengers. Their diets contains over 300 species of plants. They consume a very wide range of plants, but mainly eat broad-leaved grasses, wiregrass, and terrestrial legumes. They also eat mushrooms, as well as fruits such as gopher apple, pawpaw, blackberries, and saw palmetto berries. In addition, gopher tortoises eat flowers from the genera Cnidoscolus (nettles), Tillandsia (Spanish and ball moss), Richardia, and Dyschoriste. Juvenile tortoises tend to eat more legumes, which are higher in protein, and fewer grasses and tough, fibrous plants than mature tortoises. Gopher tortoises can live up to 40 years. The gopher tortoise reaches maturity at about 10–15 years of age, when their shells are around 9 inches (23 cm) long. They may mate from February through September, with a peak throughout May and June. Females may lay clutches of 3-14 eggs, depending on body size, in a sandy mound very close to the entrance of their burrow. (credit:

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID

No Comments

Spotted by

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, USA

Spotted on May 12, 2009
Submitted on Jan 16, 2012

Related Spottings

Gopher Tortoise Gopher tortoise Gopher Tortoise Gopher Tortoise

Nearby Spottings

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper Snowy Egret Snowy Egret Grass Snail


Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team