Gopher tortoises live in extensive subterranean burrows in dry upland habitats. The habitats where gopher tortoises are found include longleaf pine sandhills, xeric oak hammocks, scrub, pine flatwoods, dry prairies, and coastal dunes. Tortoises can also live in man-made environments, such as pastures, old fields, and grassy roadsides. To be suitable for gopher tortoises, the habitat must have well-drained sandy soils for digging burrows, herbaceous food plants, and open sunny areas for nesting and basking. Periodic natural fires play an important role in maintaining tortoise habitat by opening up the canopy and promoting growth of herbaceous food plants. If natural fires are suppressed, habitats may become unsuitable for tortoises. Today, land managers use prescribed fire to maintain tortoise habitat.




Scrubby Flatwoods