Texas Tortoise (Gopherus
- Texas Status
- The Texas tortoise has yellowish-orange, "horned" scutes (plates) on its shell and cylindrical and columnar hind legs, like those of an elephant. About one and 11/2 inches long (and wide) at hatching, this turtle will normally grow to have a shell length of about 81/2 inches.
- Life History
- The Texas tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) is one of the most interesting reptiles found in Texas.
These very docile creatures are primarily vegetarian, although captive specimens have been known to eat meat. They feed heavily on the fruit of the common prickly pear and on other mostly succulent plants available to them. Although the life span is unknown, it is thought by some that breeding age is attained in about 15 years and that longevity may be as great as 60 years.
A low reproductive rate, historic heavy exploitation by pet suppliers, and other factors have led to a severe population decline of the species. This has resulted in its being listed in 1977 as a protected nongame (threatened) species, thus affording protection from being taken, possessed, transported, exported, sold, or offered for sale.
- Its range extends from South-Central Texas in the United States southward into the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas.
- Related fossil forms in this genus have been found in the Pliocene in Central Texas. The Pliocene is considered as dating back to 10 million years B.C.