April 10th is Gopher Tortoise Day
Here is a snippet from a great article published by a local Florida news station, WUFT
"Gopher tortoises typically spend around 75 percent of their time in their burrows but are more active during the months of April and May, due to the beginning of mating season.
The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners declared April 10 Gopher Tortoise Day as a means of promoting awareness of these reptiles. They were federally listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2007.
“In the last 12 years now since that listing status changed, we have done an enormous effort in Florida in trying to conserve this species and slow down its decline,” said Deborah Burr, who is the gopher tortoise program coordinator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “I don’t know if we have reversed this, but I definitely know that we have slowed it down.”
FWC has promoted awareness of Gopher Tortoise Day and the protection of these reptiles since 2016 because gopher tortoises are a keystone species.
Their burrows are homes to 411 other species including the eastern indigo snake, the gopher frog and the Florida mouse. The tortoises burrow down to the water table — as much as 145 feet in depth. This provides a humid environment for the tortoises and other animals to live.
These tortoises are the only native tortoise species in the southeast and are found in all 67 counties in Florida as well as in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina."