Gopher Tortoise, Indigo Snake & the Florida Mouse

Gopher Tortoises

Gopher Tortise Photo Wikipedia Creative CommonsGopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) are a Florida threatened species which utilize a variety of upland habitats, from beach dunes to upland scrub and pine flatwoods. Gopher tortoises are vegetarian reptiles and regulate their temperature from their environment and dig a deep burrow to avoid the summer heat and allow retreat from the winter cold. Gopher tortoises are considered a “keystone species” because their burrows are utilized by over 300 other species, which do not have the ability to construct the burrow themselves. Gopher tortoises have spade feet, which are excellently adapted for digging, and their holes are easily distinguishable from other burrowing animals by the unique dome-shape. The Gopher Tortoise protected status is due to overharvesting for food and shell-based items. Status: Threatened.

Indigo snake

Indigo Snake Photo Wikipedia Creative CommonsIndigo snake (Drymarchon corais) is a Florida threatened species which are a very shiny, jet-black color and can grow up to six feet long. Indigo snakes live primarily in Gopher tortoise burrows within upland scrub, flatwoods, and beach dune habitats. Like most snakes, they are reptiles that are active during the day preferring to warm themselves in the sun. Indigo snakes regularly feed on mammals, birds, frogs and other snakes. Indigo snakes protective status is due to disappearing habitat and overharvesting for the pet industry because their gentle nature made them ideal pets. Status: Threatened.

The Florida mouse

Florida Mouse Photo Anne Malatesta Florida Fish & Wildlife ServiceThe Florida mouse(Podomys floridanus) also known as the “Gopher Mouse” is a Florida species of special concern which live primarily in Gopher tortoise burrows within upland flatwoods, scrub, with sub-species colonizing beach dune habitats. It is found exclusively in Florida and is the only endemic mammal in the state. Like most rodents, they are primarily nocturnal and prefer to forage at night. Florida mice are omnivorous feeding on seeds and nuts, as well as insects and other invertebrates. Florida mice protective status is primarily due to the habitat loss and the decline of the Gopher Tortoise and introduction of predators such as feral cats and dogs. Status: Threatened.

Gopher Tortoise. Photo from Wikipedia Creative Commons. Author: Craig ONeal