The Gopher tortoise, or Gopherus polyphemus, makes its home in the coastal plains, from South Carolina to Florida to southeastern Louisiana. With a shell that can grow to almost 16 inches long, the tortoise prefers to burrow into the sandy soils, though it has been known to appear in ditches, roadsides, and drainage pipes when its habitat has been threatened.
While loss of habitat remains the primary reason for the species' decline, the tortoise is also threatened by predators like skunks, raccoons and armadillos. Classified as threatened, the gopher tortoise population once soared throughout the Southeast. Now, the tortoise is primarily found in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.