Racoons in the Everglades
Amongst the thousands of species living and thriving in Everglades National Park, the racoon has been a familiar sight for years. Racoons are small, bandit-masked looking animals with dark fur and bushy tails. They are extremely intelligent and adaptable, and use their front paws and long fingers to feast on a wide variety of food. Racoons can snatch their prey out of the water, such as crawfish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures. They also eat fruit, plants, and eggs.
South Florida natives who have spent many years exploring the vast Everglades have seen these wetlands undergo various changes in water levels, vegetation, and even animal population. Despite constant change, certain animals continue to make appearances on Everglades airboat tours, like alligators, birds, and fish. In recent years, however, the locals at Everglades Holiday Park have noted a decline in racoon sightings – but what is the reason behind this?
The rapid decline in the racoon population throughout Everglades National Park can be blamed partly on the Burmese Python, which has been relying on mammals and racoons in the Everglades for food. These giant pythons are some of the largest on earth, and can reach up to 23 feet long. Everglades Holiday Park has heard that the pythons that are disrupting the Everglades most likely started out as pets, but then grew too big and were dumped by their owners into this complex wetland ecosystem.
Everglades experts at the National Academy of Sciences released a study that found that the percentages of medium-sized mammals like raccoons are down dramatically in areas where pythons are becoming more prevalent. These snakes are also being blamed for wiping out opossums, bobcats, and other Everglades mammals as well. Scientists are expressing concern that pythons in the Everglades will severely disrupt food chains beyond repair, sending even more animals onto the endangered species list.
Although the situation should be managed carefully, experts say there is still a considerable population of racoons in the Everglades at this point – they may just be making greater efforts to avoid potential predators. On your Everglades airboat tour, you may be lucky enough to spot some of these “masked” animals on land.
The Everglades is constantly adapting in response to climate change, land development, and natural forces – which Florida has plenty of. Because of these continuous changes, the staff at Everglades Holiday Park provides visitors with plenty of information on easy conservation efforts and green measures we can take to keep racoons and other mammals in the Everglades alive and healthy.
Everglades Holiday Park takes visitors on the best Everglades airboat tour around, seven days a week. Call today to book your tour!