Other Wildlife You Might Find in the Florida Everglades – Mammal, Reptile, Bird Species, and More!
Mammals of the Everglades
Florida Panther: The Keystone Predator
The Everglades are home to many animals that are protected by the Endangered Species Act, such as the West Indian Manatee and the Wood Stork. The Florida panther is also an endangered animal species. There are an estimated 160 panthers left in the wild, all scattered throughout Florida, but many of them are found in Everglades National Park.
Florida panthers grow to be about six to seven feet long and weigh anywhere from 65-100 pounds for the females or 100-160 pounds for the males, which makes for a fairly intimidating cat to cross paths with. A good way to tell a Florida panther from any other subspecies of mountain lion is by looking at the tail and back. Florida panthers usually have a crooked tail and a unique patch of black fur on the back that doesn’t fit the rest of the panther’s hair.
White-Tailed Deer: Grazing the Wetlands
White-tailed deer are the smallest members of the deer family that inhabit North America. They have reddish-brown coats that fade much duller and grayer in the winter. They’re so named because of the undersides of their tails, which are a prominent white, no matter the season.
The deer tend to stay near bodies of water like ponds and lakes, which are constant sources of drinking water. They are completely vegetarian except for the occasional accidental bug that happens to be on their shrubs or barriers. They’re most easily found at dawn and dusk.
Florida Black Bear: The Lone Rangers
Did you know that Black Bears are the only kind of bears not only found in the Everglades but also in all of Florida?
Black bears are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of about 80 percent plants, 15 percent insects, and 5 percent meat. Since black bears aren’t often overtly aggressive, the meat they eat often includes fish and wildlife that are small and aren’t going to put up too much of a fight.
Small Mammals: The Unsung Heroes
Small mammals like raccoons, mice, rats, and even aquatic mammals like the sea otter are a good indication that the Everglades ecosystem is doing well because it shows balance. Small mammals are important as a food source for larger mammals, but they’re also crucial for seed dispersion. The small animals forage around, eating fruits, vegetables, and flowers. While a large portion of the food is digested for the animal’s benefit, the seeds often survive and are passed through the animal and dispersed through the animal’s droppings.
Reptiles and Amphibians Abound
The American Alligator vs. the American Crocodile
Many people can’t distinguish between alligators and crocodiles. While it isn’t important for your safety to understand which is which, knowing the information can be useful.
The two easiest ways to distinguish between them is to look at their coloring and their snouts. Alligators are dark-colored and have a rounded snout. They’re also usually found in freshwater. Crocodiles, on the other hand, are usually found in brackish and salt water, are greyish-green, and have a tapered, triangular snout.
Snakes in the Grass: From Pythons to the Florida Cottonmouth
Snakes are a crucial part of the environment and take part in maintaining the balance of nature. Their diet helps control the population of other animals in the Everglades, such as rodents and invertebrates and, in some cases, other snakes. For example, the Florida kingsnake eats other snakes regularly with no discrimination against venomous ones!
Snakes themselves provide an excellent source of food for other animals of the Florida Everglades, like certain birds and alligators.
The Burmese python, on the other hand, is a problem species. They are not native to the Florida Everglades and have become such an invasive species that, if left to grow, it will endanger the delicate ecosystem. So, while the Everglades is one of the python’s favorite habitats because they hide easily in the swamp-like landscape and threaten, even further, the endangered species living in the Everglades, they cannot be left alone to do as they wish.
Turtles of the Everglades: Snapping and Wading
There are a wide range of turtles in the state of Florida. They range in size from 3 inches to 6.6 feet and range in weight from 5 ounces to an entire ton (which is 2,000 pounds!).
There are a variety of turtles, from the common box turtle to the Florida Snapping Turtle. The snapping turtle is most commonly known for its aggressive disposition when out of the water, with its distinguished beak-like jaws and highly mobile head and neck. You don’t often have to worry about them when they’re in the water, as they prefer to run and hide under sediment.
Birds That Take Flight
Everglades protect the habitat of hundreds of species of birds, including many species of migratory birds that nest, breed, and rest.
Wading birds and an iconic part of the Everglades wildlife. From egrets to wood storks, to the colorful display of the roseate spoonbill, the water birds draw eyes from far away.
The roseate spoonbill gets its name because of its scooping beak. These vibrant birds can often be spotted in the shallow waters among the aquatic plants during your Mangrove tour!
Aquatic Life of the Everglades
Freshwater and Brackish Water
In brackish water found in Central and South Florida, you can find native species of trout, bull sharks, tilapia, alligators, some species of crab, shrimp, and more. The marine life in the Everglades is some of the most interesting for monitoring from either a park airboat or your own.
Fish of the Wetland
Snapper, sea trout, redfish, largemouth bass, and bluegill are plentiful, as well as tarpon, snook, and peacock bass. Fishing in the Everglades is a fantastic way to pass the time. With such a variety of fish swimming just below the surface, you’re sure to have an interesting time whether you’re in the swamps or more open waters.
Fishermen do need to be aware of the high levels of mercury that have been found in the Everglades bass, as well as some other species of fish in northern Florida Bay. It is advised not to eat fish caught north of Main Park Road, but if you’re going anyway, do not consume them more than once a week. Children and pregnant women should abstain. It’s not only bass that shouldn’t be consumed often but also spotted seatrout, gafftopsail, catfish, bluefish, ladyfish, and crevalle jack.
Crustaceans and More
The Crayfish is a prime example of a crustacean in a freshwater setting. It gets to be 2-3 inches long, and one crayfish will weigh as much as six one-dollar coins stacked on top of one another.
Crustaceans are an important part of the ecosystem, providing food for many creates, including alligators
Do you ever wonder what animals live in the Everglades? Although we do have many different types of Everglades animals that are located here at the park, there are still so many that you will find that live and inhabit the Everglades in our backyard. A great way to go find them is to hop on one of our airboat tours because it takes you out into the Everglades, where you can see the ones that might not be able to make it onto our property grounds.
Exploring the Everglades Park
What Makes it Unique?
Subtropical Wetland: A Rare Biodiversity Hotspot
The wetlands of the Everglades are universally acknowledged as crucial to the environment. From the iconic “River of Grass” to the intricate mangrove swamps, these wetlands are home to countless plant and animal species that are important to the environment as a whole.
Everglades National Park Service: Preserving for the Future
The Everglades and the species within them are of unparalleled importance to preserve. The National Park Service is doing everything within its power to educate the public and protect the many plants and animals that inhabit swamps and marshes of the Everglades, and so are we at Everglades Holiday Park.
Regions of the Everglades: From Central to South
Part of the reason the Everglades are so important is because of the delicate balance found between so many different regions there. Cypress, freshwater marl prairie, freshwater slough, coastal lowlands, mangrove, pinelands, hardwood hammock, marine, and estuarine all work in harmony to create an ecosystem unlike anything else in the world.
Human Interaction with Nature
Airboat Tours: Cruising the Wetlands
Airboat tours are a fantastic way to relax and get close to nature. Our knowledgeable captains are on top of things, sharing incredible knowledge and pointing out wildlife along the way!
Observing Wildlife: Best Practices and Safety Tips
There are many specific procedures for approaching wildlife, but a couple of really important ones are to give animals plenty of room and to leave “orphaned” or sick animals alone, as their mothers are often closeby but unseen.