Interesting Facts about Florida Wildlife You Should Know
Florida is known for many things. When you hear its name being called out anywhere, chances are that images of amusement parks, such as “Walt Disney World” and cities like Orlando or Miami or Daytona will come to mind. You might even start reminiscing about all the time you spent (or would like to spend) at its numerous, pristine beaches. If nothing else, it’s very likely that you will start wondering about the Kennedy Space Centers and its wonders in Florida. The point is that many people either overlook or simply just don’t consider the amazing Florida wildlife that’s so deeply rooted in this tropical state of the USA. This wild, natural side of Florida, may be a little less known but that doesn’t make it any less interesting than anything else this state has to offer.
Despite not enough being said Florida Wildlife, there’s a lot to explore and learn about the creatures calling it home. From full-fledged American Alligators, to creepy crawling Black Widows and even Bald Eagles, a fascinating world of wild animals is rooted in the state. These animals are not just limited to a few hundreds. Rather, many exists in overwhelming numbers and are fairly attuned to the lifestyle of the people in Florida. The Black Bears, further discussed below, form the best example of Florida’s Wildlife directly interacting with its human population. Apart from that, there are quite a few rare species found in Florida too such as the infamous Florida Panthers. All of this makes Florida Wildlife truly a fascinating yet an underrated aspect of the region.
We were quite drawn by all that is to know about Florida Wildlife and couldn’t resist delving deeper into awe-inspiring information about Florida’s animals. We have compiled a list of some of the most interesting facts of Florida’s Wildlife you should know about. For anyone who wants to travel to Florida or calls it their home, this much information about its wildlife is definitely a must.
1. Florida has over 1.3 Million Alligators
American alligator is so common in Florida that it can rightfully be called the official reptile of the state. A very dear component of Florida wildlife, there are over 1.3 million alligators which call Florida their home. The magnitude of such a large number of alligators can only be fully realized when contrasted against the total number of people living the country. There’s one alligator for every 16 people living in Florida, meaning that almost all Floridians have come across a live alligator at least once in their life.
American alligators are also considered one of the most dangerous animals amongst the Florida wildlife. They are capable of seriously harming humans with their powerful bite when provoked, but since they are naturally afraid of human beings themselves, they do not pose much of a threat to the human population if left to their own devices.
Altogether, the population of alligators in Florida makes up a quarter of the total alligator population found in the USA. With these reptiles inhabiting all 67 counties, the largest population of alligators in the state is found in Gainesville, Florida. It’s indeed fascinating to know how peacefully such a large number of alligators can live together in harmony with Floridians.
2. Florida is Home to Four Species of Black Widow Spiders
Florida is not home to just one, but rather four different species of Black Widow spiders. These include the Southern Black Widow, Northern Black Widow, Red, and the Brown Widow. Out of these, the most commonly found spider is the Southern Black Widow spider.
Many people find spiders creepy, but the fact of the matter is that not all of them are as dangerous or harmful as widely believed. In fact, amongst the four species of Black Widow spiders, only Southern Black Widows and the Recluse Brown Widows are dangerous. Southern Black Widows normally live under rocks or in wood piles and can be easily distinguished by the characteristic red markings on their backs. The same is true for the Brown Recluse spiders except they prefer damp bundles of clothes, shoes, and leaves over piles of wood and rocks. However, even these venomous spiders never needlessly attack humans and only ever show their dangerous side when made to feel threatened or attacked.
Even with their four distinct species, Black Widow spiders are a small part of the Florida Wildlife. This can be easily realized by the fact that Florida is home to 59 distinctive species of spiders alone, and there are so many more animals we are yet to discuss.
3. Many Sharks Visit Florida Each Year During their Annual Migration
Because Florida is so conveniently placed with numerous coastlines, sighting sharks in Florida makes for an extremely exciting opportunity of witnessing Florida’s wildlife at its best. Quite a few dozen of sharks visit Florida’s east coast each year as they migrate from colder areas to relatively warmer ocean conditions.
Nurse Sharks, Blacknose Sharks, Bull Sharks, and Spinner Sharks are few sharks that visit Florida each year. Blacktip Sharks are particularly popular amongst the tourists who specifically go out on shark spotting trips to catch a live glimpse of these forces of nature. Imagine seeing them travelling in groups of hundreds at once! For most it’s a terrifying yet a majestic sight to behold.
Among the numerous different types of sharks that visit Florida each year, only the Bull Sharks and the Great White Sharks are known to be dangerous. Even then, there are not enough fatal cases for them to be determined deadly and lethal.
4. Florida is Home to 50 Species of Snakes
Because of Florida’s warm climatic conditions, a treasure trove of reptiles is found here. One extremely interesting fact about Florida wildlife is that consists of 50 different species of snakes. Many find this to be quite astonishing as these many species are not found in most other states of the US, but something even more astonishing than the wide variety of snake species found here is that out of all of these only six are actually venomous or dangerous.
Some of the more dangerous species of snakes include Southern Copperheads, Cottonmouths, Eastern Diamondbacks, Timber Rattlesnakes, and Eastern Coral Snakes. However, most of the snakes that you will commonly find lazing around in the sun are non-venomous and harmless. Some Floridians also have a keen interest in breeding snakes, and some pet owners even release their pet snakes out in the wild which has also led to introduction of some new snake species such as the Green Anaconda.
Snakes found in Florida play an important role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. Most of them are actually quite helpful for humans as they prey on rodents and keep their populations in check. Snakes are found all over Florida, and are not limited to just land. There are many aquatic species of snakes that can be found breeding in wetlands, mangroves, ponds, and marshes. Terrifyingly, some species love living in residential areas too. But as mentioned earlier, most of them are not harmful at all.
5. The Florida Everglades are Sanctuaries to both Alligators and Crocodiles, Simultaneously
If you’re looking into Florida and its wild habitats, you will surely hear a lot about the Florida everglades. Although many people mistake Florida Everglades for swamps, they are actually wetlands which drain into a basin. The simplest way to understand the nature of the Florida Everglades is to think of them as wide slow-moving lakes. They altogether cover about 1.5 million acres of land in Florida and are also a source of clean drinking water for over 7 million people living in Florida.
But, most interestingly, the Florida Everglades are the only places in the world where both alligators and crocodile co-exist peacefully. You can distinguish between the two by the shape of their snouts.
Alligators have rounded snouts while the snout of the crocodiles are sharp and v-shaped. If we were to describe them in terms of their aggressiveness, then crocodiles make badder bullies of the region. Compared to alligators, crocodiles tend to be a lot more threatening and dangerous and can even knock out an alligator their own size. This makes it all the more interesting to note how they are both found in Florida Everglades, so you can observe the idiosyncrasies of both simply by paying Everglades a visit.
Apart from crocodiles and alligators, Florida Everglades are also sanctuaries to about thirteen endangered species. Furthermore, ten threatened species also call Florida Everglades their home. This is also the reason why there are strict preservation and restoration processes in place. That’s most definitely a feather in the cap of Florida Wildlife!
6. The Florida Everglades are Home to 68 Different Varieties of Mosquitoes
Did you know there is not just one type of mosquito that exists in the world? In fact, there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes that exist on our planet Earth. Out of all these, you can find a total of 68 different mosquito species in the Florida Everglades alone.
This makes the mosquitoes one of the most notorious nuisances of Florida Wildlife when exploring the Everglades. However, the good news is that most of these mosquitoes are not really interested in biting humans and tend to stick with the alligators and crocodiles instead. Nevertheless, it’s only in your favor to look out for these little buzzing creatures more than you should look out for, say, the American Alligators. After all, there are a lot more of them and they are harder to spot and swerve away from.
7. Florida Panthers are One of the Rarest Panthers in the World
If you are still not convinced about how incredibly rich and unique the Florida Wildlife is, then this fact will definitely lock your opinion in its favor. Panthers found in Florida, commonly known as Florida Panthers, are of the rarest panthers of the world. They are one of the most threatened and endangered mammals of the world, which makes their presence in Florida an even bigger deal.
It’s also interesting to note that Florida Panthers are actually related to cougars and are not really panthers by the correct definition of species. Nevertheless, they are officially considered the state mammal of Florida as South Florida is the only remaining breeding ground for Florida Panthers in the world. Their status as state mammals is shared by manatees.
It’s also equally fascinating to note that despite being dangerous, there have been no reported cases of Florida Panthers attacking humans at all. Guess, they also want to preserve our life as much we want to preserve theirs.
8. Florida is Home to Nearly 4,000 Black Bears
Black Bears are the only species of bears you will find it Florida. But that’s really not a downside for the Florida Wildlife. Instead, it’s almost terrifying to know that there are 4,000 Black Bears that inhabit Florida altogether, especially when they are the largest land animals that you’ll find in the state.
There are a lot of interesting things that can be said about the nature and personality of Black Bears. It’s extremely interesting to know that Black Bears are so immune to the human presence now that they are frequently found roaming the streets and residential areas. This speaks a lot about the place of Black Bears in the ecosystem of Florida Wildlife.
Even though Black Bears are largely vegetarians and don’t hunt down humans for food, bear attacks still pose a threat to humans. Unfortunate interactions between humans and Black Bears can also be equally detrimental for the bears themselves. They often get hit by fast-moving vehicles as they roam past the streets. Some might even get illegally killed by certain people out of fear of their attacks. However, there are still many positive preventive and protective measures put in place that ensure safety of both the humans and the Black Bears in Florida.
9. Florida has the Most Pairs of Bald Eagles after Alaska
Bald Eagles are a symbol of pride and patriotic fervor for all the citizens of the USA. Despite having so much importance in the wildlife scene of the entire country, they were considered endangered and many practices and acts were put in place to ensure that they were protected and preserved. The state of Florida was also at the forefront of such Bald Eagle conservation efforts.
Thanks to these preservation efforts, Bald Eagles were officially removed from the list of endangered species. Today, Florida has one of the highest number of nesting Bald Eagle pairs in the lower 48 states of the country. There are about 1,500 promising pairs of Bald Eagles in Florida, which is the highest number of Bald Eagle pairs after Alaska.
These birds are a source of great amusement and fascination for many. Their wide wingspan and distinct white head and body makes them attractive features of many forests around Florida. They are particularly found near lakes, rivers and other bodies of shallow water.
Presence of Bald Eagles in Florida is definitely an achievement that Floridians should be proud of. After all, they are symbols of pride and success which were successfully safeguarded by collective conservation efforts.
10. Flamingos are Considered Native to Florida
Flamingos are perhaps the most storied characters when it comes to the tales about Florida Wildlife. Their history with Florida dates as far back as the 19th century where they were found in large numbers in the south of the state. At that time, they were hunted for food. This gradually changed to them being hunted for feathers until they were nowhere to be found in South Florida at all.
Flamingos were then reintroduced to the Florida Wildlife by some affluent families who imported them to be kept as pets. At this point in time, flamingos were viewed as non-native and even invasive species which were solely fit for the purposes of captivity. Given this history of extinction and then reintroduction, there’s a lot of debate over whether the flamingos that currently exist in Florida are those that escaped captivity or those that escaped hunting.
Nevertheless, recent studies focusing on preservation of Florida Wildlife have discovered that flamingos are, in fact, native to Florida. This has put an end to the widely held belief that Flamingos are aliens in the grand scheme of Florida Wildlife.
All these interesting facts about Florida Wildlife must have definitely piqued your curiosity. They serve as a lens to view a fresher and more natural side of Florida, away from its dazzling amusement parks and busy entertainment spots. Exploring Florida’s Wildlife in depth will make for a pleasant engagement for all nature enthusiasts. The good news is that there are many guided wildlife tours and safaris offered by the state parks. This means that tapping into the incredible natural world that lies beyond, and also often overlaps with, the bubble of human world is quite possible. You can see alligators and crocodiles in the Everglades by yourself, you can even spot a flying Bald Eagle or catch a glimpse of pink flamingos. All you need to do to get started is to know some interesting facts about Florida’s wildlife.