Probably the highlight of today was when Brynna took Heidi for an afternoon walk and came back to the trailer saying she saw a big turtle out in the field. We'd seen a sign at this park saying that it was "Gopher Tortoise Habitat", but we hadn't seen any in the week and a half that we've been here or any sign of burrows which we assumed they made with a name like that. I figured they were small and made little holes. Brynna is always finding the wildlife. Today Bryn's find was a pretty big one! It's shell was about 10-12 inches in length and it was a good 5-6 inches tall. I just assumed it was a gopher tortoise and looked them up on Google and found that they are a threatened species and live in burrows that they make that can be 45 feet long and up to nine feet deep in the ground so they are less affected by extremes in temperature and somewhat protected from predators. I read that their burrows can be habitat for more than 350 different species of animals. Brighton took a couple of great pics of the mystery tortoise. This particular tortoise traveled fairly quickly once we all gathered around to take a look. He or she traveled nearly half the length of the field in about 5 minutes! The gopher tortoise is only found in the southeast. It is really cool getting to see all the different wildlife we've seen on this trip. Well, upon further research, I don't think we have seen a gopher tortoise after all. It looks nothing like the other gopher tortoises that our search turned up. I think it could have been a yellow bellied slider turtle. Sheesh. I don't know much about reptiles. This turtle didn't have webbed feet and the shell was domed.
Anyone want to chime in? Whatever variety it was, it WAS really cool getting to see it and it was quite beautiful.