Top 10 Texas Tortoise Facts, Size, Diet, Weight

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Texas tortoise

Remember about the gopher tortoise? Yes! We have been through this. Why am I talking about them? So here is the reason, Texas tortoise about which this article is, is one of the four species of gopher tortoises. However, we have discussed that gopher tortoises are named so, because of their specialty in digging deep burrows, but unlike them these tortoises are not known to follow the gopher tortoise’s footsteps. It has the scientific name of ”Gopherus berlandieri.” It is from the species of tortoises that belongs to North America.

The fact behind its name

These species are sometimes named as Berlandier’s tortoise. The word “berlandieri” in its scientific name is in the honor of famous biologist, and naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier who put his efforts in the biological surveys arranged in Texas by the Mexican Government. 

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Texas tortoise classification

Let’s have a look at its classification: 

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Scientific Name Gopherus berlandieri
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Order  Testudines
Suborder Cryptodira
Superfamily Testudinoidea
Family Testudinidae
Genus Gopherus
Species G. berlandieri
Diet  Herbivores
Lifespan  60 years.
Weight 27 to 37 kg
Incubation period  88 to 118 days.  
Trophic level Herbivores
Length  23 cm

Texas tortoise physical appearance

If you have ever got a chance to visit a place where different tortoises are captivated, you must have an idea that every tortoise has its own unique identity. So is like this tortoise, it can easily be distinguished by other tortoises due to the yellowish-orangish circles or plates inside each scute over its shell. These circles bloom just like sunlight. The carapace of males is somewhat longer than females. At a first glance, you would find out that its legs have similarities with the elephant ones. 

Texas tortoise size

Little is known about their individual sizes on a gender basis, but on average, according to biologists, and breeders who have worked upon them says on average these tortoises can attain a length of 23 cm, while born hatchlings have a length of 12 cm.

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Texas tortoise weight

So, when you ask about How big Texas tortoises are? It’s difficult to answer, as its specific size, and weight has not yet been demonstrated, but on average it is concluded that they do have massive size and can weigh up to 27 to 37 kg. 

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Texas tortoise facts

Let’s have a look at the facts of these tortoises:-

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  1. They live in drylands and thus absorb most of the water from plant material upon which they feed.
  2. These tortoises feel every touch and rub on their carapace surface.
  3. These tortoises are the species of one of the four gopher tortoise subspecies.
  4. These tortoises are found nowhere else other than North America.
  5. They are currently enlisted as vulnerable in Texas, but least concerned on IUCN red list.
  6. Since 1977 Several organizations and zoos have been working for their protection, and rehabilitation of their habitat.

Texas tortoise diet

All the tortoises are herbivores in nature which means they eat on plants, grasses, shrubs, and fruits plus vegetables. And the same is the case for this tortoise. But when you keep this tortoise as a pet you need to take proper care of its diet as it is different in captivity than in the wild. So, if you don’t have any idea about What do Texas tortoise eat? then don’t worry, take a note and list down each point I am gonna mention:

What to feed your Texas tortoise?

Texas tortoise food should consist of naturally grown plants, although all plants are naturally grown unless neither of them is treated with fertilizers and chemicals. Give them plants such as dandelions, hibiscus leaves, nasturtium flowers and leaves, young rose leaves, grape leaves, rose flowers, wandering jaw, zucchini leaves, banana squash, and yellow crookneck. The addition of spineless-cacti and succulents would also be beneficial such as the pads, aloe vera, and prickly pear cacti. Make sure the food you are giving to your tortoise should be sprinkled with calcium and vitamin d3 supplements, but 90% of the diet should consist of flowers, grasses, and weeds as some of them mentioned above.

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Texas tortoise lifespan

These tortoises are long-live as most of the tortoises do. But, when specifically talking, you can say that they can live up to 60 years or even more if treated with proper care and diet.  However, these tortoises are undergoing a decline In population due to some harmful factors. Let’s see them!

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Population threat

These tortoises are facing a decline in population due to its low reproduction rate and illegal pet trade. In Texas, they are enlisted as vulnerable. However, in the IUCN red list, it is currently declared as the least concern. Major threats to their population include loss of habitat, low reproduction rate, conversion of land, and hunting plus the illegal pet trade. 

Texas tortoise Predators

Its babies are more vulnerable to predators than adult tortoises. Major predators include coyote, fox, bobcat, and eagle. To save itself from predators, it covers its whole body inside the shell, which makes it difficult for a predator to locate it. 

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Texas tortoise habitat

If You are currently in North America and want to see these tortoises, then it’s a great chance for you to see these tortoises, head towards the South of North America as they are found nowhere else other than it. Its geographic range starts from Southern Texas and Northern Mexican states. These tortoises are easy to find in arid areas, and dry savannas, and probably in grasslands too.

Can Texas tortoises swim?

No! Tortoises are not supposed to swim. Texas tortoises live on the land, and thus cannot swim. Their feet and body do not support the swimming function, unlike turtles that can swim. 

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Texas tortoise mating

These tortoises meet the age of sexual maturity very late in their life, mostly at the age of 10 years. When they become sexually mature, they mate and lay two clutches per year. Mating season starts In June and ends in September.

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Incubation period

After the successful mating, during the months of April and July, females are able to lay eggs. But before laying eggs, mother tortoises dig burrows underground. After the burrow is dug successfully, it lays eggs. Incubation periods last 88 to 118 days. 

Texas tortoise baby

After the incubation period is completed, two to three babies come out of their shells, breaking them with their heads. After a few weeks, they are able to live on their own and grow at a very slow rate. 

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Is it illegal to have a Texas tortoise?

Yes! These tortoises are recognized as vulnerable in Texas and are considered illegal to be kept as a pet. These tortoises are not easy to own as a pet as it is strictly restricted. However, if you are granted a special permit, then you can own it. 

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Do Texas tortoises bite?

Yes! According to the zoo’s that acquire these tortoises, occasionally, these tortoises do bite, and thus you shouldn’t get very close to them. As far as Texas tortoise behavior is concerned, they are active in the early morning and are solitary in nature thus making it a difficult pet. 

Texas tortoise care

If you luckily own a Texas tortoise as a pet, then make sure to properly take care of it. If you don’t know how to take care of your pet tortoise? Now, this is the point of interest for pet owners. Pick a pen and note the points I am going to mention. Thank me later! 

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Texas tortoise enclosure

To take proper care of them, the most important thing is how you design their enclosure. Outdoor habitat is considered as the best enclosure, but it also demands safety precautions to be implemented to make tortoise safe from predators. During the winter season, the inside enclosure is perfect. A turtle table would be perfect for this purpose. If you are having a baby tortoise, then the enclosure size of 3 by 2 feet is enough. As it grows, make sure to larger the enclosure. 

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Texas tortoise substrate

inside their enclosure, orchard grass or environment grass hay would make a perfect substrate. Wet and spoiled hay should be removed on a daily basis as this type of hay does not absorb enough moisture. Inside the enclosure, one portion should be designed such that it consists of a light that would provide enough heat a tortoise needs. 

What do you do if you find a tortoise In Texas?

Hundreds of tortoises die each day as a result of roadkill. Texas tortoise rescue is important if u ever confront it in a critical situation. What you need to do if you found It, depends on the situation, if you are riding a car, and it accidentally comes in your path. Please stop your car! Pick it up carefully, and leave it away from the road in the direction it was moving before you encounter it. The second situation can be a little different. If you find this tortoise in critical condition, then call the rescue center ASAP! 

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