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Record-Sized Gopher Tortoise Recovering at CROW

Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife
Giant gopher tortoise at CROW.

Gopher tortoises are long-lived reptiles that that can be found throughout Florida’s forests, pastures, and yards. They dig deep burrows for shelter and forage on plants. Their burrows are important to more than 350 other wildlife species, and that’s why they’re referred to as a keystone species.

Gopher tortoises are listed as Threatened here in Florida, so both the tortoise and its burrow are protected under state law. An extremely large gopher tortoise was recently rescued at Koreshan State Park when rangers there noticed it was acting lethargic and appeared to have diarrhea. They brought it to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, or CROW, on Sanibel, where it is now recovering. State officials say it might be the largest gopher tortoise on record, ever. We're joined by Dr. Heather Barron, she’s Hospital Director and Head Veterinarian at CROW, to discuss this gopher tortoise, and the dozens that are brought to crow every year. And we'll get an update from the front lines of the effort to save marine animals and birds being impacted by the ongoing red tide bloom off southwest Florida's coast.