Florida is one of the most widely known and famous American states. It is famous for its natural beauty and diverse wildlife that is often threatening and overwhelming.
With its warm climate and lush vegetation, it is home to a wide variety of wild animals that roam its forests, wetlands, and coastlines, but occasionally also wander the city streets. These are some of the most common wild animals that live in Florida:
Is there an animal more synonymous with Florida than the legendary gator? The American alligator is an iconic animal of Florida and can be found throughout the entire state. These massive reptiles can grow up to 14 feet in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
They are apex predators and feed on a variety of different prey, including fish, turtles, birds, and mammals. They like their peace, quiet, and privacy so make sure to respect them for it.
The Florida panther is a subspecies of the North American cougar and is one of the rarest and most endangered mammals in the whole of the United States.
They live in the southern part of the state, particularly in the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve. These big cats are solitary and feed on deer, wild hogs, and other small mammals.
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake
This species of rattlesnake is the largest venomous snake in North America and can be found throughout Florida. They can grow up to 8 feet in length and have distinctive diamond-shaped patterns on their skin.
They are dangerous predators and can deliver a lethal dose of venom with a single bite. It is important to take precautionary measures when going into the wild, especially when you want to come across one.
The Florida manatee, also known as the sea cow, is a large, slow-moving marine mamma. It lives in the state’s coastal waters and rivers, of which there are many. They are herbivores and feed on seagrass and other aquatic plants.
These gentle giants are endangered and are protected by federal and state laws. Due to their slow and large nature, they are often easy targets for poachers as well as natural predators.
The Florida black bear is a subspecies of the classic American black bear. It lives in the northern part of the state where it is the largest predator. These bears can weigh up to 500 pounds and are omnivores, meaning they feed on a variety of foods like berries, acorns, insects, and small mammals.
The white-tailed deer is a common sight in Florida and can be found throughout the state. It is common in many states and Florida is one of them. They are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants, including leaves, fruits, and nuts. These graceful animals are an important part of the state’s ecosystem and are popular game animals during hunting season.
The Roseate Spoonbill is a striking bird found in Florida’s wetlands and coastal areas. These birds have distinctive pink feathers and a unique spoon-shaped bill that they use to sift through shallow water.
This is how they find their food. They are a popular sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts and a great experience to spot.
The American crocodile is a rare and endangered species that can be found in the southern part of Florida. They are similar in appearance to the American alligator but have narrower snouts and lighter coloration.
These crocodiles are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including fish, crabs, and small mammals. If you see a large alligator/crocodile and do not know what it is, it is probably an American crocodile. They tend to be bigger.
The Anhinga, also known as the snakebird, is a common waterbird that lives throughout Florida. These birds have long necks and sharp, pointed bills they catch fish and other small aquatic creatures with. You can often see them perched on tree branches or drying their wings in the sun.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The Eastern Gray Squirrel is a familiar sight in Florida’s parks and neighborhoods. These squirrels are omnivores and feed on nuts, seeds, and insects. They are a very acrobatic species that use their skills wisely. Look up in the trees and high places often and you will surely come across one.
Best Places to See the Florida Wildlife
Make sure to find your way to these 5 locations if you want to experience Floridian wildlife in its natural environment:
1. Everglades National Park
This famous park is home to a wide variety of wildlife and it is the perfect place in Florida to see different wild animals in one place. Once there, you can see alligators, panthers, and manatees all over the place, as well as numerous birds. It offers organized opportunities for wildlife viewing like airboat tours and hiking trails.
2. Ocala National Forest
This forest is located in the center of Florida and is home to black bears, deer, and many species of birds. It is a forest after all so it offers hiking and camping opportunities all over the place. Some truly epic and scenic drives await here as well.
3. Big Cypress National Preserve
This preserve is adjacent to the Everglades and offers opportunities to see alligators, panthers, and other wildlife. It also offers hiking and canoeing opportunities. Make sure to include it in a single trip when you visit the Everglades. It is only right.
4. Sanibel Island
This is a barrier island located on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is a great place to see sea turtles, dolphins, and a variety of bird species enjoying the sunny beaches and the neverending water. Since it is an island, it also has many beaches for outdoor fun in the sun, and even a few nature preserves to explore.
5. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
Last but definitely not least, there is the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. This zoological park is located in a great place to see alligators and other reptiles up close, much closer (and in a safer manner) than you would be able to in the actual wild. It also has a bird rookery where you can see many species of birds nesting and raising their young. Wildlife enthusiasts should absolutely have it atop of their to-do lists.