Geographical Range Southeastern United States
Habitat Sandy soils in areas between woodlands and grasslands
Scientific Name Gopherus polyphemus
Conservation Status Threatened

This tortoise is a vital member of its ecosystem. It disperses seeds of native grasses and plows nutrients to the surface -- all in the process of digging its underground burrows. More than 30 other animal species, including the gopher frog and eastern indigo snake, depend on this animal’s excavations. Unfortunately, the number of gopher tortoises is declining because of habitat destruction.