Gopher Tortoise And Their Importance

Gopher Tortoise And Their Importance

©2015 Darlene B. Durham

 

TGO Nature Center, Nature, Education, Reptiles, Gopher Tortoise, Gopher, Tortoise

Photo Courtesy of Taylor Durham

 

It is April of 2015 and Taylor and I have been seeing gopher tortoises on the golf cart nature trail more often in the last few weeks. We usually see them between the library and the bridge. There are two reasons for these increased sightings. The weather has warmed up enough for the tortoises to venture outside their burrows more often and April begins their mating season.

The gopher tortoise is considered a “keystone species” as its burrows provide shelter for other species such as skunks,  diamondback rattlesnakes, lizards, rabbits, opossums, armadillos, foxes, gopher frog, gopher cricket, gopher scarab beetle, toads, burrowing owls, worms, ticks, scorpions, flies, beetles and ants, just to name a few. One important use of these burrows are they provide protection from the prescribed burns we have in Florida. So these tortoises and their burrows are important to our ecosystem. If the gopher tortoise were to become extinct, it would have an adverse affect on the species who rely on their burrows.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the gopher tortoise is listed as threatened in Florida. The tortoise, its nest and its burrows are protected.

Please watch for the gopher tortoise on the golf cart trail, especially around the “S” curves. As with all our wildlife, please do not feed them.

If you want to see more photos of Gopher Tortoises, click on this Gopher Tortoise Photo Album link.
 

TGO Nature Center – “Living in Harmony with Nature

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