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Sulcata or Gopher Tortoise? Help!!

Hope1427

New Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay, Florida
Hello, I’m new to the forum but read through a ton of threads before signing up. I’m in Florida and found a baby tortoise in my backyard a few weeks ago that my dog had pinned into a corner. He didn’t look very healthy so I brought him inside. When I did a quick search and, from pictures, I assumed it was a sulcata. However, as I research further and I’m trying to build a proper home for the little guy, I’m realizing that It could be likely that I have a Gopher tortoise due to my location. No matter how much I search through pictures, it is so difficult to tell the difference! Could someone tell me the defining characteristics between a sulcata and a gopher? I’m happy to post pictures, let me know which angles are best but, I’d also love to personally know how to tell the difference.
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
82,830
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Since our picture loading function isn't working at the moment, I'm going to copy/paste a couple pictures off Google for you. First a baby sulcata:



Note the extra strong-looking scales on the front legs, and note where the two scutes behind the head come together.

Now the gopher tortoise:



Note the more refined-looking front leg scales, and the fact that there's one more scute above the head instead of the two scutes meeting behind the head.
 

Hope1427

New Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay, Florida
Since our picture loading function isn't working at the moment, I'm going to copy/paste a couple pictures off Google for you. First a baby sulcata:



Note the extra strong-looking scales on the front legs, and note where the two scutes behind the head come together.

Now the gopher tortoise:



Note the more refined-looking front leg scales, and the fact that there's one more scute above the head instead of the two scutes meeting behind the head.

Thank you! These are helpful... I’m thinking it’s a gopher :( I’ve really grown quite attached to the little guy, wish this wasn’t the case but I guess I’ll need to figure out what the best thing is to do with him since I can’t keep him.
 

wellington

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
37,522
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Thank you! These are helpful... I’m thinking it’s a gopher :( I’ve really grown quite attached to the little guy, wish this wasn’t the case but I guess I’ll need to figure out what the best thing is to do with him since I can’t keep him.
If it were me. I would make sure he is well hydrated and eating good and looks healthy, then release him back into your yard. However, you must at all cost keep the dog away from him or the dog will kill him using it like a chew toy.
 

Dovey

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
56
Location (City and/or State)
New River, AZ
Thank you! These are helpful... I’m thinking it’s a gopher :( I’ve really grown quite attached to the little guy, wish this wasn’t the case but I guess I’ll need to figure out what the best thing is to do with him since I can’t keep him.
I don't begin to know the laws in Florida, but here in Arizona, we are not allowed to release tortoises once they have been in captivity. They could take viruses or respiratory illnesses they have picked up from us back to the wild population. Check with your fish and game department about regulations in Florida. You may be able to formally adopt your baby . That's how we do it here.
 

nightoff

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2011
Messages
56
Location (City and/or State)
South Florida
What part of Florida are you in? You can call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission 954-746-1789 and explain what your yard/area is like and ask where to release it or if it should go to a rehab facility for evaluation before release.
 
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