Photos from the Fort Myers News-Press
Originally published by the Fort Myers News-Press; written by Chad Gillis.
A wildlife hospital on Sanibel Island may have the largest gopher tortoise on record in Florida.
Rangers at Koreshan State Historic Park in Estero noticed the lethargic tortoise late last month and took it to the Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel.
The old record, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, belonged to a male tortoise found in 2016 in the LaBelle, Florida area that weighed nearly 32 pounds with a nearly 17-inch-long shell.
This new male weighed in at 33.6 pounds with a shell length of just over 17 inches.
“He is definitely the biggest one I have ever seen,” said CROW hospital director Heather Barron in a news release.
CROW said it admits 60 to 75 gopher tortoises each year, mostly due to vehicle strikes.
The tortoise could gain even more weight as it recovers.
“His body condition is really poor right now, so he’s quite thin compared to a healthy tortoise,” Barron said. “A healthy weight for him would be even higher.”
Barron estimates that the tortoise is at least 50 years old.
Gopher tortoises burrow into the ground to nest and are protected under state laws.
Just one of our many wildlife neighbors you may be lucky to see on your next visit to Ocean’s Reach!