My son was cleaning off our front porch recently, when he called us out to see a tiny visitor:
A baby gopher tortoise!
Experts think gopher tortoises may live as long as 60 years. They grow slowly, taking from 9 to 21 years to reach sexual maturity, and average nine to 11 inches in length. They eat mostly grasses and legumes, and some wild fruits and berries. They are the only tortoise found east of the Mississippi River.
Gopher tortoises dig burrows in dry habitats, including pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, dry prairies, xeric hammock, pine-mixed hardwoods, and coastal dunes. These burrows, which average 15 feet long and six and a half feet deep, protect them from predators, the elements and extreme conditions such as drought, freezing weather or fires. Gopher tortoise burrows also serve as homes for other creatures, such as snakes, frogs, mice, rabbits, armadillos and even skunks and foxes. Some of these animals share the burrow with the tortoise, and others take up residence in abandoned burrows.
In Florida, gopher tortoises are categorized as a Threatened Species, primarily because of loss of habitat.
He kindly posed for a picture before crawling off into the bushes
This little guy has come to visit us a couple of times, apparently finding our front porch a good place to hang out. We're always on the lookout for his next appearance. Especially when pulling the cars out of the garage...