Lone Male Tortoise Struts Vanderbilt Beach

agtvb 022 480

Chilly Vanderbilt Beach Gopher Tortoise: “I am smiling”

Winter 2010 has been a tough season for Florida reptiles and amphibians.  The January cold snap drove thousands of Atlantic and Gulf Coast sea turtles onto the beach, cold-stunned and helpless.  You may recall that the Turtle Journal team found a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle washed up with the high tide on Vanderbilt Beach on February 7th; see Turtle Journal Discovers Loggerhead Sea Turtle on Gulf Coast Beach.  Anoles and other lizards were equally stunned by the January chill and fell from trees like balls of hail onto the nature trails of Southwest Florida. 

 agtvb 005 480

 Vanderbilt Beach Gopher Tortoise Burrow

Unsurprisingly, gopher tortoises remained largely invisible during the Turtle Journal expedition to the Gulf Coast of Southwest Florida.  Buried deep into their burrows, dug into some of the priciest turtle property in the world, they didn’t even venture out on the few occasions that temperatures nosed into the low 70s.  Nighttimes in the 40s were sufficient to convince any correct thinking gopher tortoise to choose a comfortable snooze over a wind-swept promenade.

agtvb 015 480

 Male Gopher Tortoise Poses in Front of Stacked Beach Chairs

Yet, there’s always one critter that doesn’t get the word … or thinks that the rules of cold-blooded life simply don’t apply to him.  After all, he’s the top banana, living life large in the shadow of the five-star Ritz Carlton Resort Hotel on Vanderbilt Beach. 

Lone Male Gopher Tortoise Struts His Stuff

Sue Wieber Nourse surprised this male tortoise as he stiff-leggedly strolled from his protected borrow, across the dunes, down to the beach and then back again on a sunny afternoon.  Not a tourist nor another gopher tortoise in sight.

agtvb 008 480

Quick Field Measure of Gopher Tortoise

Even without a high tech field kit, a well prepared researcher is always prepared to do a little science.  Sue gets her sneaker next to the gopher tortoise to obtain an ~ 12 inch straight-line carapace length.

agtvb 012 480

Telltale Male Characteristics of Gopher Tortoise

The plastron shows the male concavity in the rear and annual growth lines on each scute.

agtvb 007 480

Gopher Tortoise Hangs at Opening of Camouflaged Burrow

Having surveyed his empire and established his rightful position as alpha male on the Ritz Carlton beach, the gopher tortoise slid back into his well camouflaged and protected burrow, hanging out at the entrance … in case some equally adventuresome female tortoise had caught a glimpse of his demonstrable pre-eminence.  Hope springs eternal … even in the winter chill of Southwest Florida.

One Response to “Lone Male Tortoise Struts Vanderbilt Beach”

  1. […] full story HERE. Post Published: 22 February 2010 Author: Candace, SaveTheReptiles.com Found in section: Turtles […]