April 10th is Gopher Tortoise Day! In Florida. We find gopher tortoises in parts of all 67 counties and frequently encountered them slowly making the way through our yards, along roadways, and in many of Florida’s public parks and forests. The goal of Gopher Tortoise Day is to increase awareness and appreciation for these long lived, gentle reptiles.

Gopher tortoises are known for digging burrows that provide shelter for 360 other species of wildlife, called “commensals.” These commensal species include the gopher frog, Florida mouse, eastern indigo snake, and hundreds of invertebrates like beetles and crickets. Without the gopher tortoise, many of these species would not exist.

You can help celebrate Florida’s only native tortoise by educating others on the importance of protecting gopher tortoises. In a time where we see more and more invasive species upsetting the natural ecology of Florida, let’s celebrate the gopher tortoise and its role it plays in Florida’s delicate environment.

Learn more about the gopher tortoise by visiting MyFWC.com/GopherTortoise