Wildlife In The State Of Florida: Photos Of Some Of The Most Common Wild Animals Seen In Florida
Did you ever think there is wild life in south Florida? I never did. Wikipedia says there are currently 98 different species of wild life that live in Florida. I’m not going into all the different species that we share this land called Florida, they are too many.
The Habitat For A Lot Of Wild Animals Have Been Destroyed
I had never been to Florida until 1965 when my late husband decided to come here to set up his Veterinary practice. So, I was in for some surprises! When we first arrived, there were many flower farms and dairies here. Since that time, our area has been “discovered”. Big housing developments came in and bought up the flower farms and the dairies to build communities. In the process of doing this, the habitat of the wild animals and reptiles that called this area home has been destroyed.
The Florida Bobcat
People who live in some of these “exclusive” neighborhoods are quite surprised to look out over their golf course and see a Florida Bobcat standing there just looking back at them. They are not aggressive to people. They are just out looking for a free lunch. Bobcats still live in Florida.They can be a nuisance, especially to those people who like to raise chickens. They are a big, beautiful cat.
Alligators In Florida
People who have purchased homes along the man-made ponds are sometimes amazed to see an Alligator sunning himself on the banks. Many a small dog has been a meal for one of these hungry reptiles. I had never seen an Alligator before until one sunny morning I went outside to hang the laundry on the line. Right in my path was a huge Alligator quietly taking a nap in the sun. I put down the laundry basket, went inside the house, and got my broom. Not knowing the potential danger, I began to hit the Alligator on the back. I wanted him to get out of my way and go back to the pond. Fortunately for me, he woke up and ran to the pond. I had no idea they could run so fast. I’m told they have speeds up to 30 miles per hour! When I told my husband later about my experience, he advised me not to ever hit an Alligator again: just leave him alone! If he had turned on me, there was no way I could have outrun him.
Deer In Florida
We have an Interstate Highway I-95 that runs through our county. Right after it was built, about 15 years ago, deer would run across, and drivers had to be very careful not to hit them. That would cause a terrible accident. The poor deer were just trying to get back to their home that was displaced by the highway. We sometimes will still see a deer standing on the side of the interstate. Fences have been erected along the interstate, so there is no chance of them running onto the highway, thank goodness.
The Florida Panther
At one time Florida was home to the Panther. Now, they are almost extinct. Only about 100 remain in the state. That’s too bad, because they are a beautiful animal.
We Have Lots Of Raccoons!
We have lots and lots of Raccoons! These interesting and very pretty animals seem to be everywhere. If you leave your garbage out at night, be prepared to have a mess strewn all over your yard the next day. I have watched them open a Pizza box with their “fingers” and take out every crumb. I watch them from a healthy distance because they can carry Rabies.
I try to grab my camera and take some photos of them!
The Skunk Is A Pretty Animal
We Have Skunks, Too
We have Skunks, too. You can’t mistake the odor from them. They emit this terrible odor from musk glands, and can spray up to 15 feet. I’ve had my nosey and curious dogs sprayed before by them. It takes a trip to the Veterinarian to get rid of the odor. Awful!
The Opossum is an animal that can be a real pest. They like to dig up yards. They are found mostly in wooded areas, but can invade residential areas. They had a long prehensile tail used for grasping around tree branches. When threatened, they play dead. I think they are really ugly creatures that only a Mother could love.
Speaking of animals that only a Mother could love: The Armadillo falls into that category. These animals were introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s. I don’t think anyone knows who brought them into our state, but here they are. Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. They have nine bands of plates that cover their body, and 12 bands that cover their long tail. They are nocturnal which is good because unless you are a night owl, you are not likely to see one. I actually saw one in my yard digging away at the crack of dawn. He was looking for breakfast of insects. As soon as he saw me, he quickly burrowed into the ground. They have poor eyesight, and cars hit a lot of them as they slowly make their way across the road. People around here say they are the “hillbilly speed bump”!
Mama Loggerhead Is Coming Onshore To Lay Her Eggs
The Loggerhead Is Laying Her Eggs
The Loggerhead Turtle
The Loggerhead Turtle comes to our beaches to lay their eggs. These huge turtles weigh around 250 pounds. I understand the female always goes back to the same place she was hatched to lay her eggs. This is really a sight to watch. We have guided Loggerhead tours so people can go out on the beach to watch these marvelous creatures come up onto the beach and lay their eggs. The eggs are protected by law from poachers. She will lay eggs every two to three years. First, they use their flippers to dig a big hole, and then they proceed to drop their eggs into the hole. As she lays her eggs, big tears run from her eyes. No one seems to know why. They carefully fill the hole with sand, and then the Mother returns to the sea. Depending on the warmth from the sun, the hatchings will come out of their shells in 45 to 55 days. They quickly try to get into the sea before a predator grabs them. A very small number make it into the sea. The babies follow light, so when it is the season for the babies to be hatched, no lights are allowed on the beach.
Baby Loggerhead Turtles Are Trying To Make It To The Sea
The Florida Snapping Turtle
The Snapping Turtle
We have a lot of different species of Turtles that live here. There is one, the Snapping Turtle that we stay away from. They have strong jaws, and once they latch onto something, they won’t turn loose! If we are in doubt, we put a stick near the turtle’s mouth: if it’s a Snapper, we know right away.
The Unafraid Turtle Is Coming My Way
He's A Big Turtle!
The Gopher Turtle
The common Florida Turtle is seen sometimes crossing a road to get to the other side, of course. Caring drivers will sometimes pull over and help the slow moving guy get across. When we are in a dry season, the turtles come out of the woods looking for water. One day my little dog, Baby, was barking very loud. I knew something was up. Sure enough, right outside the fenced yard, was this big Turtle. I think he is a Gopher, but I’m not really sure. I ran for the camera. I took a picture of him coming in my direction. He seemed aggressive, which I thought unusual for a Turtle. I took his picture and make a quick exit to leave him alone. He was quite large. I should have got a yardstick to show how big he was. I’d guess he was 24 inches across. I watched him as he slowly made his way to some standing water in the ditch, where he got his drink of water.
The Manatee Or Sea Cow
The Florida Manatee
The Florida Manatee is a slow swimming creature. It is related to the Elephant. They are called “The Gentle Cow”. They like to swim in the warm waters of our rivers and canals. They grow to about 10 to 12 feet in length and can weigh up to 1,800 pounds. Their life span is about 60 years. Their lives are cut short sometimes by boat propellers. Some of them bear the scars where they were hit by a boat propeller. In the waters known to be inhabited by Manatees, there are warnings to boaters to slow down.
The Wild Boar
Wild Boars In Florida
Wild Boars are big, ferocious animals. They are hunted extensively in Florida. These animals do a lot of damage to crops because they “root” with their noses and tear up the crops. Hunting them is allowed throughout the state with no restrictions. Hunters use dogs to catch the hogs and then hold them down until the hunter can come and shoot them. In our Veterinary practice, we would see dogs that have been severely injured by these hogs. They have very sharp front teeth capable of tearing into flesh. People who like to eat wild boar prefer to kill them with a bow and arrow and crossbows because they say that when the boar is frightened by the dogs, the meat tastes bad due to the adrenalin levels the boar releases. I have personally never seen a wild boar, and I can’t say that I really want to see one, either.
So Many Of The Wildlife Have Lost Their Homes
Don’t think of the Sunshine State as being only white, sandy beaches and tourists. You can still see wildlife here. So many of these animals have lost their homes due to land development and humans encroaching onto their property. We have to remember that this land was their land long before we invaded it. We have to respect the animals, and leave those that remain alone to live alongside us humans.
To read more of my Hubs
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Good Information On The Migration Of The Manatee
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© 2012 Mary Hyatt
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