Gopher tortoises mating dance, Blue Star Gallery


By Charles Towne                        

This morning I walked out into the back yard and was greeted by an amorous pair of gopher tortoises performing the turtle dance.

The mating dance of the gopher tortoise is really quite an elaborate display of head bobs and weaves, along with tender love nips.  The head bobs take the place of footwork among gopher tortoises I suppose, and for quite obvious reasons, considering the tortoise’s slow movements. I wouldn’t expect turtles to dance a waltz, perhaps a clog but never a waltz.

The male tortoise bobs his head up and down quite fast, as though nodding assent to some question only he understands. And then, almost as quickly, he shakes his head back and forth, as if denying his intent. (It’s obvious that he is not being completely honest because of the goofy grin on his face. And just so you understand, this head bobbing indicates that the male is interested in something other then… simply… bobbing his head.)

Once he has the attention of the lovely young lady tortoise, she approaches him and says something like, “Hello big boy.  Where have you been all my life?”

To which he thinks, in turtle-ese of course, “Whoa boy, she likes me! oh goody, goody, goody!”  He then proceeds to bob his head even faster, pausing now and then to give her some playful little love nips on the front legs.  What is the saying about love springing eternal?

The only thing that we can possibly learn from this elaborate head bobbing ritual is that persistence pays off.



I can remember the time I tried the head bobbing thing with my wife, after which she went into the bedroom, locked the door behind her, and then shouted at me to go away or she would call the police. What works for gopher tortoises obviously isn’t going to work for me. It sure didn’t get the desired results. Perhaps I need to perfect my head bobbing technique… and throw in a few love nips…? Maybe…?

Dear God, thank you for being so very patient with me… and thanks for giving me a little more sense than a simple-minded gopher tortoise… sometimes… maybe? Thank you for giving me the ability to not take life so seriously, and for being able to laugh at my own goof ups, foibles and faux pas.  In Jesus’ holy name I ask it, Amen

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Lololol….you are hilarious!
    Well, now I know more about Gophers than I ever knew before.
    Very interesting. Just proves that God does truly have a sense of humor! Thank you, I enjoyed the story and the chuckle!
    God bless you.

  2. Dear You, If I ever needed proof that Papa God has an incredible sense of humor all I need to do is look in the mirror, new that is funny! And then there is the fact that we take ourselves so darned serious. Yep, now that is hilarious, Bless you, Me

    • God bless you and yours Mikey me old pal. May this be a special day for you dear folks. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Happy papa’s day to you also, Chaz

  3. Dear NH, I know that your daddy loved you in a special way. I love to see your beautiful smile my dear friend. Chaz

  4. Yup, our Creator has an amazing sense of humor . . . consider the platypus. The Creator takes pleasure in creating, and we humans, were given the ability to problem solve and create. We are made in our Creator’s image after all.

  5. Judith Hankes, if only we ALL could see the Divine purpose in all aspects of creation, what a blessing that would be! Yup, Yup, all of creation would prosper if we would learn to joyfully learn to co-exist as He intended to began with. Bless you and yours with great love and undying joy. Chaz

  6. In these times it is wonderful to have a little levity. I read your book so I know that you can be a very funny author when you wish to be. We both loved it. Keep them coming.

  7. Levity, brevity, insanity… its what makes the world go around! If we couldn’t laugh where would we be? I recently met a gentleman that migrated from the USA to a third world country. This poor soul is one of the saddest men I have ever met. His attitude is so negatory I am sure there is slime mold that is happier? Sad, yes, so sad, and yet he professes to be a christian. Genuine Christians are going to be happy christians and I hope my writing and my life reveals that aspect of my life. Keep laughing, giggling, smiling and grinning my dear friends Herb and Susette, bless you both with much joy, Chaz

  8. I have to side with your wife on that instance! You thought the head bobbing was enough? You have to do the entire dance and do it right! Next time don’ t forget the love nips! The lady deserves the complete ritual, not some half baked attempt!

  9. Perhaps you are right Richard, but it seems that I have developed “half baked attempts” to a fine degree of perfection because there are those times she has taken pity on me and the reward has been commensurate to the efforts put forth, and all without the love nips. Bless you, Chaz


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