Gopher Tortoise Day April 10, 2024

Apr 5, 2024 | Events, Gopher Tortoise

Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife (CCFW) wants the community to be aware that Lee County has joined with many municipalities in officially proclaiming April 10 as Gopher Tortoise Day. The purpose of Gopher Tortoise Day is to to raise awareness of this threatened species and conservation efforts to protect them.

The gopher tortoise was well established in Florida thousands of years before human existence. It is the only tortoise that is indigenous to Florida.  Human consumption and encroachment resulting in loss and degradation of habitat has contributed substantially to their population decline – about 80 percent over the last one hundred years.  This led to classification of the gopher tortoise as a threatened species in the state of Florida.

Gopher tortoises are typically 8-10 pounds, average 11 inches long and can live 40-60 years!  They have large flattened fore limbs enabling them to dig large tunnels, some over 30 feet long. Tortoise burrows may be used as habitat by many other species (called harmonious co-existence) including burrowing owls!  Gopher tortoises are found throughout Lee County although their numbers are dwindling due to development.  In Cape Coral, there are scattered enclaves of one to five tortoises on vacant lots as well as a few areas of 10-40 burrows.

Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife works tirelessly to preserve and enhance the habitats of protected wildlife species in Cape Coral including gopher tortoises.  Volunteers mark gopher tortoise burrows throughout the city in order to prevent accidental damage, and maintain and monitor gopher tortoise burrows on many of the 69 lots acquired by the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust (a sister organization to CCFW). If you are interested in a financial donation or a donation of land for gopher tortoise habitat in Cape Coral,  contact Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife at or by calling 239-980-2593.

Gopher Tortoise, photo by Michele Schneider