What to know about Gopher Tortoises

Florida landowners, or if you are looking for land, keep in mind that if a burrow or tortoise is found on your land you will need to pay for its safe relocation or face fines. If you are doing due diligence on land and suspect there could be tortoises you may need an environmental study done.

The Florida Statute states:

It is a Violation of Florida Statute 372.0725 to intentionally take, harass, wound, or kill any species designated as endangered, threatened, or of special concern; Any person who violates this provision with regard to an endangered, threatened, or of special concern species; is Guilty of a Felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in: s.775.082, s.775.083, or s.775.084. by $10,000 fine, or both. You may not touch or disturb a Gopher Tortoise or Gopher Tortoise burrow (Active or Inactive) except by permit issued by the director of the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission.

If you don’t know a lot about Gopher tortoises, here are some facts :

  • Gopher tortoises can live from 40–80 years and possibly older in the wild, up to 100 years in captivity.
  • Gopher tortoises are most active during April–October, but in southern Florida they are also active on warm days in winter.
  • They live in excavated burrows that are an average of 15 feet long and 6.5 feet deep and provide shelter from weather, fire, and predators.
  • Each burrow has a single entrance, about as wide as the length of the tortoise. Burrows are typically easy to spot because of the sandy “apron” or mound at the entrance.
  • There are only five tortoise species in North America and the gopher tortoise is the only one that occurs east of the Mississippi River.
  • With proper permits (contact your local Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office), gopher tortoises living on proposed development sites may be relocated to a new area; however, relocations are often unsuccessful because the tortoises rarely stay at their new sites, may spread disease, and may disrupt resident tortoise populations.For further information let me know and I can put you in touch with an environmental study company who can evaluate your property.
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