Habitat and Burrows
Gopher tortoises live in dry habitats, such as longleaf pine savannas, live oak hammocks, and dry prairies. They can also live in man-made environments, including pastures and grassy roadsides. They depend on well drained soils for digging burrows, open areas with plenty of sun for nesting, and low plant growth for food.
The gopher tortoise is one of the few tortoises to dig large burrows. The size of the burrow varies. The average length is about 30 feet. Depending on the level of the water table, some are as short as 6 feet and some can be as long as 40-50 feet. The width is about the size of the tortoise's length, allowing them enough room to turn around, and the depth can be between 3-20 feet.
One interesting fact on gopher tortoises is they will share their burrow with many different animals, including snakes, frogs, lizards, mice, rabbits, skunks, opossums, armadillos, and burrowing owls. The burrow provides protection from fires, droughts, summer heat, freezing temperatures, and predators.