Designated the state reptile in 1989, the gopher tortoise is one of the oldest living species native to Georgia. The gopher tortoise belongs to a group of land tortoises that originated in North America 60 million years ago.
This tortoise digs burrows up to 40 feet wide and 10 feet deep providing year-round shelter from predators and
inclement weather for more than three dozen other animal species.
The gopher tortoise population is in decline and recent studies indicate that by the year 2000 it may not exist outside of protected areas.