A gopher tortoise makes its way down the hill behind the NASA KSC News Center. The sandy soils of Florida are prime habitat for the species, the only one in Florida. Gopher tortoises thrive in many of our ecosystems, pine-oak sandhills, oak hammocks, prairies, flatwoods and coastal dunes. This and other wildlife abound throughout KSC as it shares a boundary with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, home to some of the nation’s rarest and most unusual species of wildlife. The wildlife refuge is a habitat for more than 310 species of birds, 25 mammals, 117 fishes and 65 amphibians and reptiles. In addition, the Refuge supports 19 endangered or threatened wildlife species on Federal or State lists, more than any other single refuge in the U.S. Gopher tortoises are protected by law in Florida and are listed as a Species of Special Concern.