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.

The End!


  1. Hi Julee-

    A scute is one section of the shell. Almost like an individual scale. And "gular" is the region under the throat. So the "gular scute" is that segment of the shell under the throat, and in this case it projects out on the males.


  2. Okay, I see it now in the second to last picture. Thanks!