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Walt Disney World is one reason people love to go to Orlando, Florida. Also, Florida is famous for its beaches, theme parks, Disneyland, and wildlife. Read to know more about the wild animals of Florida!
Florida has a changing climate and fantastic biodiversity. Its animals are fascinating. As a Floridian, I’ve had many encounters with native animals in Florida. I saw the Florida panther, Key Deer, giant manatees, jellyfish, and near-extinction species.
Because of the state’s diverse and rich landscape, Florida houses various habitats. Over 700 species live there, from the tropical coast to the Everglades.
This post discusses Florida’s wildlife, habitats, and endangered species.
What are Native Animals of Florida
“Native animals” refers to species indigenous to a particular region or ecosystem. For instance, the Florida panther is native to South Florida. It lives in mixed freshwater swamps, tropical hardwood hammocks, and pinelands. It’s crucial to provide native species with their preferred habitats.
Now, let’s talk about the native animals of Florida.
Florida has incredible wildlife and is home to many fish, nature, and habitats. Over 700 terrestrial species, 1,000 marine fish, 200 freshwater fish, aquatic and marine vertebrates, and terrestrial insects live in Florida. The natural habitats of the state are critical to these wild species. There are coral reefs, the Keys, first-class springs, and the fascinating “river of grass” in the Everglades. Florida may have indigenous species for nature enthusiasts.
The Sunshine State is also one of the United States’ most unique species. But only some things are as beautiful as it sounds. The state is among the top five in the US, with the most nearly extinct animals.
Technology has made it possible to learn about and watch wild breeds through books and videos. But it is always better to see them in their natural setting. Here is a detailed guide on native animals in Florida.
Commonly Found Native Animals Of Florida
Here are the most common native animals in Florida:
What would the Sunshine State be without pelicans? They are intriguing native animals of Florida. These large, unique birds are abundant and offer a sight for sour eyes when you visit the shore. As one of the most productive wild animals in Florida, there are two species of pelicans.
The more common brown pelicans are year-round residents of the state. Brown pelicans are common along the Florida coast and migrate inland after nesting. White pelicans only winter in Florida. They head back to the northern states and Canada, where they live for the rest of the year.
Pelicans are identifiable due to their big body mass. These birds can hold up to three gallons of water – almost three times as much as they contain in their stomachs. The power to hold that much water is crucial when they hunt their primary food – fish.
White-tailed deer are Florida’s most common animals. They can avoid predators in areas with fresh, low-growing vegetation and edges where two ecosystems meet.
Also, white-tailed deer get their name from their black/brown and white tail. Their size varies depending on the habitat. The average weight of a male white-tailed deer in Florida is about 115 pounds. But in North Florida, they can weigh up to 200 pounds or more. A white-tailed deer can weigh up to 90 pounds, and a big female can weigh up to 120 pounds. Their features make them a sight to behold, as native animals of Florida.
Furthermore, they are most active at dawn and dusk and feed on leaves, shoots, fruits, flowers, and forbs. Also, you may see them on your landscape, damaging shrubs in your garden.
Florida’s alligator population is widespread. Also, they are famous native animals of Florida. The American alligator is a giant aquatic reptile that is native to Florida. It is one of two crocodilians that live there. Yet, it is worth noting that alligators and crocodiles are different. It is easy to differentiate an American alligator for a crocodile by looking at its head shape and color.
American alligators have a broad, rounded snout without lower teeth. In contrast, an American crocodile has a narrow nose, with the fourth tooth of the lower jaw visible. American alligators live in swamps, marshes, rivers, and lakes. They are the most common wild animal in Florida.
Manatees are another endemic species found in Florida. Due to their exceptional attributes, folks consider them attractive native animals of Florida. They are huge aquatic mammals that can grow to be 9 feet long from nose to tail and weigh about 1,000 pounds as adults. In some habitats, they may also extend over 13 feet, weighing about 3,500 pounds.
Also, Florida manatees have two flippers on their front legs that help them move and hold onto plants. Their flattened, paddle-like tail allows them to swim.
The southern US, Caribbean Islands, Central America, and South America have West Indian manatees. The Florida manatee, a West Indian manatee, lives in US coastal waterways. Also, it dwells in the springs and rivers.
Some Florida manatees go to Georgia on the east coast, and some go as far north as Massachusetts. Manatees, known as “sea cows,” graze seagrass and aquatic vegetation for up to eight hours daily.
Near Extinction Wild Native Animals of Florida
Florida is home to many common native animals, but it is also home to some almost extinct animals. If not protected and restored, many wild animal species and subspecies will go extinct in their natural habitats.
Florida has several unique animals. The state’s many cities, parks, and humans have harmed these species’ wildlife ecosystems. Here are a few endangered and near-extinction animals in Florida.
It’s a Florida-only species. There are only 180–200 left in the wild. Habitat deterioration from urbanization killed the Florida panther. Wild animal-human accidents have increased due to population growth and road building.
The Florida panther is native to Florida. It now exclusively lives in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
Florida’s Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Over 95% of loggerhead sea turtles nest in Florida. Yet, Alabama, South, and North Carolina have them too. These species feature reddish-brown shells and a large head.
Adult turtles can reach 3 feet in length and weigh about 300-340 pounds. These wild animals in Florida can only lay their eggs from April to September. The species is losing nesting habitats as more people build land and towns for pleasure.
Florida Black Bear
The only native species in the state is the Florida black bear, a subspecies of the American black bear. It is worth noting that Florida’s black bear needs a massive piece of land as its natural habitat. The enormous, black-furred wild animal lives in forests. Also, biologists say there are about 4,050 black bears in Florida.
Mature male bears weigh 300–350 pounds, and adult female bears weigh 140–180 pounds. These species get 80% of their food from plants, like berries, fruits, nuts, and more. The other 20% comes from things like meat and insects.
Black bears prefer swamps, Flatwoods, and hammocks. Most of these species live around Ocala, Apalachicola, Big Cypress, and Osceola National Forests.
One of the animals that live in Florida is the black bear. People are a threat to the black bear like they are to other endangered species.
Florida Key Deer
Key deer are native to Florida. These animals feature white bellies, light to dark-brown dorsal, and black snouts. Key deer live only in the Florida Keys and are native to the state. In the past, these animals lived from Key Vaca to Key West. But now they live on more than 26 islands, such as Big Pine Key and Sugarloaf Key.
Florida Keys Key Deer thrive in hardwood hammocks, pinelands, mangroves, and more. Tourists flock to the Florida Keys, making illegal feeding more likely. As with other wild animals, people feeding Key deer is unsafe for many reasons. For instance, it reduces human fear, which causes them to forage in backyards on roadsides. This condition increases car collision risk.
Also, Key deer eat more than 160 different kinds of plants, such as black, white, and red mangroves. Their breeding season kicks off in the fall.
What Other Animals Live in Florida?
Here are a few more wild animals of Florida that you might come across during your Florida trip.
Florida’s Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin
The bottlenose dolphin is a beautiful, harmless marine animal that you can watch at the beach. Or you can enjoy these wild animals of Florida during your boat trip. The bottlenose dolphin lives there all year. Going on a cruise where you can watch dolphins is the best way to see them. You can also join one of Florida’s programs where you can swim with dolphins or visit them at sanctuaries.
Dolphins are magical; watching them in their natural habitat is soothing. These friendly, joyful mammals offer an enthralling for adults and kids alike. While you can watch them year-round, the best time is 9 am to noon in May through August.
Florida has many spots to see dolphins. These species inhabit Oskaloosa Island Pier, Eglin Beach Park, Crystal Beach, Henderson Beach, and Miramar Beach.
Sharks in Florida Waters
The rule of thumb is if there are dolphins, there will be sharks too. Florida has Sandbar, Blacktip, Spinner, Sharpnose, Blacknose, Lemon, and other sharks. You may also see unusual great white sharks. Only Great White and Bull sharks are hazardous, and Florida shark attacks are rare.
Keep in mind that box jellyfish contain a toxin that can be fatal. Swimmers should know what they look like and how to avoid them.
Stunning at a distance and strange up close is Florida’s roseate spoonbill. The bird is among the native animals of Florida, and you can see it in the state’s coastal regions. You may see them in small flocks associating with other wading birds. These wild animals eat in shallow water. Also, they consume things like aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and some plant parts.
It looks like something from a children’s book because it is pink, has a fuchsia body, and has a long, flat beak. They are easy to identify because of their unusual and whimsical appearance. During the summer, you can find these beautiful birds all over the state. The rest of the year, they move to southern Florida, where they stay.
Do you love cats? Bobcat with cute looks is among the wild animals of Florida. While you might not get the chance to spot a Florida panther, spotting a bobcat is more likely. They’re twice the mass of a house cat and feature a bobbed tail. Also, while they look cute, be aware of their razor-sharp teeth and mighty claws.
These native animals of Florida are shy and hunt small rodents. Their breeding season kicks off from December to April.
When it comes to wildlife, the Sunshine State is a real hidden gem. Plus, the native animals of Florida are diverse and unique. Also, the state has many vegetation and animals besides its beaches and theme parks. Explore Florida’s natural beauty and find out what it has to offer. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and go on an adventure to see how amazing Florida’s ecosystem is. See these beautiful animals in their natural habitats and preserve it. Book your trip today to see the wild side of Florida and all it has to offer!
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What kinds of animals are native to Florida?
Florida is home to a wide range of animals on land and in the water. Manatees, alligators, white-tailed deer, panthers, and many types of birds are some of the most common native animals in the state. Florida is also home to many fish and invertebrates in its coastal waters. Many species of reptiles and amphibians live there.
How does the ecosystem in Florida help the animals that live there?
Florida’s ecosystem includes wetlands, forests, grasslands, and coastal ecosystems, all home to different native wildlife. The state’s warm climate and plenty of rain make it a good place for many species to live, and its many parks and protected areas help to protect and preserve its unique natural resources.
How do people affect the wildlife that lives in Florida?
People can have a significant effect on Florida’s native wildlife by doing things like building cities and destroying habitats. Important threats to the state’s ecosystems and the species that depend on them are the loss of natural habitats due to development, pollution, and climate change. People’s interactions with wildlife, like hunting and fishing, can also affect populations and upset the delicate balance of Florida’s ecosystems. For Florida’s native wildlife to live for a long time, conservation efforts like protecting and restoring habitats are critical.