Gopher Tortoises 2

Her front legs are like shovels to dig into the sand for the burrow. Her back legs are sturdy and straight for walking.

Her front legs are like shovels to dig into the sand for the burrow. Her back legs are sturdy and straight for walking.

When she's hungry, there's no stopping her!

When she’s hungry, there’s no stopping her!

The gopher tortoise looks a little like a dinosaur. Their powerful feet scrape away the sand as they burrow into the sand. The tortoise is a ‘keystone species’. A keystone is the stone in an archway that holds the arch together. It’s important for all the other stones in the arch to support the structure.

A keystone in an arch

A keystone in an arch

A keystone animal is important to many other animals that live in the area. The Tortoise is keystone because many other animals share the burrow. in fact, there are over 350 other animals that can share the burrow!  Some, like the Florida mouse and the indigo snake may use the burrow while the gopher lives there.

Others, like the lizard or the rabbit, use the burrow for protection from the heat, or predators. Those hard working tortoises dig out the burrows that make a difference for so many other animals. Good Job gopher tortoises!

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