I got to handle (with proper permits) this old, male gopher tortoise yesterday. Gopher tortoises are amazing animals, as they are considered to be a keystone species because they share their burrows with over 350 other species. Just a few examples include burrowing owls, gopher frogs, Indigo snakes, and Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. They are a valuable asset to the habitats in which they live, but seem to have a hard life when it comes to their natural history. Juvenile gopher tortoises have a 3-5% survival rate (due to predation) and they have a very slow reproductive rate - they don't sexually mature until they reach 10 to 20 years of age. When they become adults, chances of survival are much higher because they are a larger animal. Unfortunately, being a large, armored reptile does not protect them from humanity. Gopher tortoises are now a threatened species because of habitat destruction and people harvesting them for food. Education and conserving their native habitat is the only way to help the gopher tortoises' population thrive again.
Sea turtle hatchlings are extremely cute. Unfortunately their survival chances are only 1 in a 1000. Mostly due to human based threats. These threats also affect other wildlife and eventually also human health. Let's do something about it together and change our ways.
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