what do gopher turtles eat

What Do Gopher Turtles Eat?

Gopher turtles (Gopherus polyphemus) are medium-sized, terrestrial turtles found in the Southeastern United States. These turtles are part of the genus Gopherus and are most commonly found in sunny, dry upland habitats such as sandhills, scrubland, and pine woods. As omnivores, these turtles have both plant-based and animal-based diets.

Plant-Based Foods

Gopher turtles forage for a variety of foods in their environment, including:

  • Grasses – Gopher turtles forage for grasses such as wiregrass, Bermuda grass, sweet grass, and gama grass.
  • Berries – Gopher turtles will eat a variety of wild berries such as maypops and other passion fruits, blackberries, prickly pears, and raspberries.
  • Fungi – Gopher turtles will occasionally supplement their diet with small fungi, such as mushroom caps and puffballs.

Animal-Based Foods

Gopher turtles are also known to eat small animals. Common prey items for these turtles include:

  • Insects – Gopher turtles will eat beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars.
  • Reptiles – Gopher turtles have been observed feeding on small lizards, salamanders, and snakes.
  • Mammals – These turtles will feed on small mammals such as mice, voles, and shrews.
  • Birds – Gopher turtles have been known to feed on dead or injured small birds.


Gopher turtles are omnivorous, meaning they have both plant-based and animal-based diets. These turtles forage for a variety of plant-based foods, including grasses, berries, and fungi. They also feed on small insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds.

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