Are you planning a trip to Florida, maybe to see Mickey Mouse? Well, Florida has some amazing wildlife outside of the mouse. Panthers, alligators and bears call this sunny climate home. Come and see all that Florida hides in its mangroves, in its Everglades and even in the waters.
The Everglades are filled with wildlife. A number of the species living here are also endangered. The Florida panther makes its home in the hardwood hammocks of the Everglades. There are estimated to be between 60 and 100 panthers residing in the glades. The American alligator and the American crocodile both make the shaded, leafy shallows of the freshwater marshes in the Everglades their home. Green sea turtles use the marine habitat of the Everglades to find food and shelter. Several other species of sea turtles, also endangered, live in the Everglades.
Endangered species are just part of the animals that make up the Everglades. Snakes, turtles and birds of all kinds call this marshy, mossy area home. Great Blue herons with 6-ft wingspans, the Anhinga, with its snakelike neck, and Osprey’s, fishing birds with sharp talons, all call the Everglades home. Bobcats hunt in the mangrove forest. Marsh rabbits swim, (yes, swim) in the marshes. River otters feed on the fish and turtles and sometimes baby gators that are plentiful here.
In the central Florida areas, manatees use the warm rivers as refuges in winter. Armadillo’s scuttle along the sandy hills of the beaches, looking for cover. Black bears, coyote, Sandhill cranes and bobcats all live in places like Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park.
Northern Florida with its vacation hotspots, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and Ocala, is also home to gray fox, bottle-nosed dolphins and mink. Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a hiding spot for white-tail deer, wild turkey and wood ducks. Little Talbot Island State Park is a maze of salt marshes, hardwood hammocks and tidal creeks on a barrier island. Fiddler crabs run for their lives. Shorebirds like the Caspian Terns and common loons look for fish in the marshy waters. Loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beach.
The Florida Panhandle, which contains areas like Panama City and Pensacola is a great spot for seeing the diversity of Florida. Here, tidal marshes, pine forest, hardwood hammocks and beaches can all be found. Red-cockaded woodpeckers make their homes in the long-leaf pine forest. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is one of the most beautiful spots in Florida. Horse-shoe crabs, Kingfishers and Pied Grebes all vie for a piece of the sand. From the dune tops, visitors can see the Gulf of Mexico. Loggerhead turtles and Snowy Plovers, both endangered species, still make their nests on the sandy beaches of the peninsula.
Wherever you decide to visit in the sunshine state, there is abundant wildlife to see. Bring your binoculars. Remember to keep your distance. Never feed the alligators or bears. Use common sense and caution. Then, relax and enjoy the Florida wildlife.
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