The gopher tortoise is a medium size land tortoise with large, stumpy hind legs and a flattened front legs.  They use their front legs to dig burrows in sand soil.   These burrows provide a home and refuge for the tortoise and more than 350 species of wild animals and insects that share the same habitat.  They prefer high, dry, sandy places but also live in coastal grasslands and dunes. 

Why should you be concerned about the gopher tortoise?  In 2007, the Florida Fish and Wildlie Conservation Commission listed the gopher tortoise as a threatened species and created a plan to manage and protect these animals.  Part of this plan included guidelines for landowners whose property contains gopher tortoises.  It is illegal to destroy or kill gopher tortoises, their burrows or their eggs.  These tortoises MUST be relocated out of harms way before any land clearing or development takes place.  Permits are required for the FWC before handling or moving tortoises.

If you are planning on building on a vacant lot and you find a gopher tortoise or their burrow, you must contact the FWC to obtain a permit to move the tortoise.  You can search the online gopher tortoise permitting database at to see if a permit has already been issued.  

We at Orlando Inland Realty, LLC. support the protection of wildlife.  Before you clear land, learn the law at