Gopher Tortoise
Gopherus polyphemus

Other Images of Gopher Tortoises

The Gopher Tortoise is South Carolina's only true tortoise. These tortoises grow relatively large, with topshell (carapace) lengths of about 9 inches or more. Their hind feet are elephant-like. The front legs are heavily scaled. The lower shell (plastron) is not hinged. However, they can draw their heads into the shell and shield it with their folded front legs. They are native to sandy soils and dig deep burrows, for which they get the "gopher" descriptor.

Gopher Tortoises are found in South Carolina in the extreme southern tip of the state. There may still be an isolated population in Aiken County, which is known as the most northern extent of their original range. The range of Gopher Tortoises extends from South Carolina to Florida to extreme eastern Louisiana.

Return to SC Turtle Index

updated: January 24, 2006
Contact: South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians