Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri)
We see quite a few Texas Tortoise here in the refuge. One sunny day we saw a total of 20 individuals while we were driving around the refuge roads.
References say their maximum shell length is 8 3/4 inches. We measured this big boy at 9 inches!
They feed mainly on the pads, fruit, and flowers of the prickly pear cactus.
In 1977 they were listed as a protected nongame (threatened) species. It's illegal to possess, transport, export, or sell a Texas Tortoise.
When two males meet in a territory, battles can lead to the death of one. Males try to turn each other over. If an over turned loser can not right himself, he can die from over heating. Males have long gular scutes that assist them in these battles.