Florida designated the endangered gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) as the official state reptile in 2008. Native to Florida, the gopher tortoise belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago.
The gopher tortoise digs burrows up to 40 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Over three dozen other animal species use these burrows for shelter from harsh weather and predators.
The gopher tortoise population is declining and studies indicate that it may not exist outside of protected areas. Help preserve this unique, ancient creature - if you find a tortoise on the road, stop your vehicle and gently place it off the road in the direction it is traveling.