From southern South Carolina through southern Georgia and most of Florida, west through southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana.
Most common in longleaf pine savannas. They prefer dry sandy habitats such as oak sandhills, coastal dunes, and scrublands. They are known for extensive burrowing to escape extreme temperatures.
A medium-sized tortoise that averages 6-10 inches in carapace length, but can reach up to 16 inches. Adults are rather dull grey or brown in color, while juveniles have yellow scutes bordered in dark brown. The plastron is solid yellow in juveniles and adults, but the color fades a bit with age. The tortoise is somewhat rectangular in shape when viewed from above. From the side, the carapace is flat on top, mildly sloped at the front and steeply sloped at the back. The 2 central scutes at the front of the plastron jut forward, and are called gular projections. Males have longer gular projections than females, as well as a concave plastron. The plastron of females is flat. They have wide forelimbs suited for digging and protecting their face when pulled into the shell. Their hind legs are thinner and elephant-like. Their shell is mostly smooth with very subtle pyramiding on the scutes.
Learn more with Schechter Natural History's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians