The gopher tortoise is a large, (shell 15 to 37 centimeters or 5.9 to 14.6 inches long) dark-brown to grayish-black terrestrial turtle with elephantine hind feet, shovel-like forefeet, and a gular projection beneath the head on the yellowish, hingeless plastron or undershell (Ernst and Barbour 1972). The sex of individual turtles can usually be determined by shell dimensions. A male turtle has a greater degree of lower shell concavity, and a longer gular projection. However, the sex of tortoises at maturity size is difficult to determine (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 199O).
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