Gopher tortoises may be slow, but Gopher Tortoise Day is quickly approaching! April 10th was declared Gopher Tortoise Day by the Gopher Tortoise Council, so mark your calendars to celebrate one of Florida’s most important species. You can celebrate the gopher tortoise by adopting a resolution proclaiming April 10th as Gopher Tortoise Day or by getting involved in your local community.
You may ask yourself, “Why does this gentle reptile deserve its own day of recognition?” Here are just a few reasons:
- Gopher tortoises are Threatened in Florida and habitat loss is the primary cause for the species’ decline. Land development is expected to continue to increase in Florida, reducing available habitat for gopher tortoises. Help conserve Florida’s threatened gopher tortoise by informing your community about the risks to the species associated with habitat loss and other causes for decline.
- As a keystone species, gopher tortoise burrows provide refuge for more than 350 other species, called commensals. Many commensals are also Threatened, such as the Florida pine snake and Eastern indigo snake. The loss of gopher tortoises and their burrows may reduce populations of these commensal species. By educating your community about the importance of conserving gopher tortoises and their habitat, you can also help protect the hundreds of commensal species that call the gopher tortoise burrow “home”.
- The gopher tortoise is the only native tortoise found east of the Mississippi River, and it has occupied the Southeastern U.S. for thousands of years. Unlike other states in its range, gopher tortoises are found in every county of Florida. Raise awareness for this important native species in your community by proclaiming April 10th as Gopher Tortoise Day.
Visit the Gopher Tortoise Day website to learn how to get involved. This website has information to help YOU make a positive impact on gopher tortoises including: a sample resolution, educational materials, how to get involved or host a Gopher Tortoise Day event, and how to spread awareness through multiple media outlets.
If you have questions about Gopher Tortoise Day, please contact FWC’s Gopher Tortoise Day Coordinator at GTevents@MyFWC.com or call (850) 921–1025.
County Manager's Office