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Sulcata or Gopher Tortoise? Help!!

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by Hope1427, Nov 3, 2019.

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  1. Hope1427

    Hope1427 New Member

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    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.
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    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:

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

    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.
    Zuki, Fester, Samantha Graham and 2 others like this.
  3. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    P.M. sent.
    There are strict laws and heavy fines for posession of a Florida Gopher Tortoise.
    (If that's what it is)
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  4. Hope1427

    Hope1427 New Member

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    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.
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  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    There might be situations where you can keep the baby. Check with the state laws regarding the gopher tortoise.
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  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    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.
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  7. Blackdog1714

    Blackdog1714 Well-Known Member

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    I support release with the best chance of survival!
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  8. Dovey

    Dovey Member

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    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.
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  9. nightoff

    nightoff Member 5 Year Member

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    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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  10. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    The picture part of our Forum program is now back up and running. @Hope1427 please post some pictures for us.
    Zuki, TammyJ and Dovey like this.
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