Utilities Extension Project

400 Santa Barbara Blvd. Cape Coral, FL 33991
239.574.0558

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  • x Gopher Tortoise Poster
  • x Gopher Tortoise Poster
  • x Gopher Tortoise Poster

GOPHER TORTOISE

A LEGALLY PROTECTED SPECIES
UNDER FLORIDA LAW, CHAPTER 68A-27 F.A.C.

 

Description

The gopher tortoise is a medium-sized land turtle with stumpy hind feet and flattened, shovel-like forelimbs designed for digging in sandy soil. Gopher tortoises average 9 to 11 inches in length, although juveniles can be as small as 2 or 3 inches. Their shells are medium to dark brown in color, although juveniles may be yellowish brown.

 

Where They Are Found

Within the construction area, the gopher tortoise inhabits dry upland areas with a sparse tree canopy and abundant low growing vegetation, such as vacant lots and roadsides. It spends much of its time in long burrows that offer refuge from cold, heat, drought and predators. Gopher tortoise burrows can often be spotted because of the sand mound or “apron” created during excavation at the burrow entrance. Gopher tortoise burrow openings are half-moon shaped with the curve at the top. Burrows average 15 feet long and 7 feet deep. City of Cape Coral staff and volunteers have installed PVC pipe near some burrows, but not all.

 

If You See a Gopher Tortoise or Burrow

  1. Cease work and maintain a minimum 25 feet protective buffer from the burrow or tortoise.
  2. Do not disturb or touch the gopher tortoise or its burrow in any manner. Only the project biologist may come into contact with a gopher tortoise or its burrow.


Violations of state and federal law are punishable by fines and/or
imprisonment.