Gopher tortoises live in colonies of about a dozen individuals. Burrows can be up to 40 feet long and 10 feet deep. These burrows provide shelter from temperatures changes, fires, and predators. They also provide year-round shelter for more than 60 other animal species including snakes, frogs, toads, quail, and many other vertebrates. They are considered a keystone species, as the survival of other species that are symbiotically tied are dependent on the conservation of this species.
- Gopher tortoises earned their name due to their ability to dig large, deep burrows
- Their burrows are used by over 300 other species throughout the ecosystem making them a keystone species with a pivotal role to play
- Of 5 North American tortoise species, the gopher tortoise is the only one that occurs east of the Mississippi River