Gopher Tortoise

gopher tortoisePhoto by David Moynahan

Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that occupy upland habitat throughout Florida including forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on low-growing plants. Gopher tortoises share these burrows with more than 350 other species, and are therefore referred to as a keystone species. Conservation of gopher tortoises depends not only on the efforts of FWC and other conservation groups, but also on Florida's citizens. There are many ways to co-exist with these gentle land tortoises. For more information on gopher tortoises please visit the Education corner.

Browse around with the links on the left to look for:

  • general biological information including habitat and natural history
  • educational brochures and booklets available for download
  • frequently asked questions
  • conservation and management in Florida
  • news & updates
  • permitting options for relocating tortoises
  • opportunities for private landowners
  • rules and regulations

In Florida, the gopher tortoise is listed as Threatened. Both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the FWC before capturing and relocating tortoises. Applications for permits are available on the FWC gopher tortoise online permitting site. Online applications are preferred to facilitate a faster review process. Before applying for a permit, please review the Gopher Tortoise Permitting Guidelines or visit the individual permit webpages by following the links on the left side of your computer screen.

For answers to specific gopher tortoise questions, refer to our frequently asked questions. To view relocation permits, find an authorized gopher tortoise agent, or find a recipient site, access our online locator map. If you require additional assistance, please contact the FWC regional conservation biologist nearest you.


Help the FWC Protect Gopher Tortoises


More information

FWC Facts:
Florida has several grant programs that offer funding to enhance recreational boating access.

Learn More at AskFWC