Gopher Tortoises are native reptiles that can that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They can live 40 to 60 years in the wild.
They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. They share these burrows with more than 350 other species, including burrowing owls, Florida mice, indigo snakes, opossums, rabbits, gopher frog, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes and gopher crickets and are therefore referred to as a keystone species.
In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as Threatened. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating tortoises.