Gopher Tortoise

Gopherus polyphemus

Animals of North America Back
Gopher tortoises have front legs that are shaped like shovels, while the hind legs are elephantine. These tortoises spend the majority of their time excavating burrows with their forelegs. These burrows can be up to 10 feet (3 meters) deep and 40 feet (12.3 meters) long, and are used by the tortoises to sleep and hibernate away from predators. These burrows are also used by a wide variety of other animals, including burrowing owls, raccoons, opossums, gopher frogs, and snakes. Without the burrows made by the gopher tortoise, these other animals would not have homes, which makes the gopher tortoise a regional “key stone species”.


Grasses and leaves, but may also eat wild fruits and berries.
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