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Transcript of Gopherus Polyphemus
Gopher Tortoise's make their homes in the southeastern United States, especially Florida.
In the undegrowth of mesic flatwoods in Florida, beneath the canopy of tall pines, the Gopher Tortoise walks as he searches for food and mates.
In their habitat, the Gopher Tortoise digs burrows where he sleeps, hides and defecates.
This is a short video of a Gopher Tortoise out foraging. He takes a few nibbles of a plant and continues on his way.
Gopher Tortoises primarily feed on grasses.
Legumes make up a significant part of the diet as well.
They are also known to eat fruits that hang from low-lying vegetation.
Here, we see a mating display of the gopher tortoise. Notice how the male begins nibbling on the limbs and chin of the female. The video runs a little long, but provides a good demonstration of typical courtship for this species.
Gopher Tortoise chin glands are thought to play a role in breeding due to heightened reaction to stimuli when glands are active.
Additionally, females with inactive chin glands had great difficulty differing between sexes.
The end result of Gopher Tortoise courtship is mating.
Reproduction is achieved through the standard method of sexual reproduction with the male mounting the female and inserting his penis to achieve fertilization.
Female gopher tortoises lay their eggs in the sand, often very close to their burrows.
The environment that surrounds the eggs can influence the development of the tortoise.
Most notably, the temperature affects the sex of the tortoise.
Female gopher tortoises lay one clutch per year. The size of the clutch is known to vary with location.
Gopher tortoises have a very high mortality rate when they are young, mainly because they are extremely vulnerable to predators.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Gopher
Tortoise is his burrowing habit.
As we can see from the pictures above, the burrows made by the Gopher Tortoises end up providing homes for many other animals in the area including snakes and rabbits.
(Gopher Tortoise Services, Inc., 2013)
(U.S. Forest Service, 2013)
(Landers, Garner & McRae, 1980)
(Landers, Garner & McRae, 1980)
(Gopher Tortoise Services, Inc. 2013)
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (n.d.) Fact Sheet on Gopher Tortoise, a dry land turtle Retrieved October 17, 2013 from: http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/GopherTortoise/Gopher_Tortoise_Fact_Sheet.html
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