Texas Tortoise


Scientific Name

Gopherus berlandieri

Species Survival Plan



Dry scrub and grasslands


Fox, bobcat, coyote and eagle


Grasses, weeds, flowers, prickly pear cactus and occasional grubs

Originally Native To

Southern Texas down through northeastern Mexico


6 - 8 inches


Male 7 - 9 lb.
Female 5 - 7 lb.


Rather small with yellowish-orange plates on its shell and small spurs on its legs

Gestation Period

3 months


Up to 7 eggs

Birth Season

April - September


Wild ?
Captivity 50 - 60 years

Social Behavior

Fairly solitary, males will fight when they come into contact; hibernate in winter


About Texas Tortoise

The Texas tortoise is the smallest of four species of gopher tortoises found in the United States. They range from southern Texas into northeastern Mexico. Fossils of these tortoises have been found in Texas that date back to 10 million B.C.

Texas tortoises are classified as a threatened species by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. They have been on the list since 1977 as a result of poor breeding, habitat destruction and exploitation from pet trade. There is a $10,000 fine if a person is found in possession of a Texas tortoise.

If you come across a Texas tortoise in the wild, make sure you never pick it up. Handling a wild tortoise is neither safe for you nor the tortoise.

This can stress out the tortoise and cause it to expel all the contents of its bladder as a last-resort defense mechanism. Doing this results in the loss of its water reserves and can cause the tortoise to slowly die of dehydration. In addition, all reptiles carry the bacteria Salmonella, which has no effect on them, but can make people very sick.


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