When we think about going to Florida the last thing we probably think about is the wildlife in Florida, however you really should because Florida has a wide variety of interesting animals.
In this article, we are going to walk you through the animals in Florida. We will include the native Florida animals, sea animals in Florida, and the dangerous animals in Florida. We will walk you through seas turtles, alligators, manatees, and much more.
From the swamps to the reefs to the forests, Florida has a diverse habitat, which gives way to an eclectic mix of animals. The great thing about Florida wildlife is that you can often see a variety of animals in one day without traveling a huge distance. If you are an animal lover Florida might be a great place for you to take a little animal adventure.
Some things you might think of doing is hiking through the forest, kayaking along the rivers, summer moonlight walks on the beach, a boat trip in the everglades on diving in the crystal-clear waters.
If you are going to see animals in Florida please be careful, there are some dangerous animals in Florida so be alert. Also, be respectful of the environment you are in; some animals such as the Florida black bear and the Florida panther are under threat due to dwindling habitats.
So are you ready for a Florida animal list? We will cover animals in the Florida everglades, native Florida animals, dangerous animals in Florida, sea animals in Florida, and of course the animal that Florida is most known for, the alligator.
12 Coolest Native Animals in Florida You May See
Of all the animals in Florida the one you will probably first associate with Florida in the alligator. As Floridians we actually get really used to seeing these dangerous animals in Florida, they are a common sight for most of us. However, they are not a Florida animal you should take lightly, with a 3,000-pound snap and averaging six to twelve feet in length they can sprint much faster than you think.
They are more dormant in the cool winter months and most active in May, which is their peak mating time. If protecting their young they can become very territorial so we really advise viewing them safely in a wildlife sanctuary. The two we recommend are Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Myakka River State Park.
Unlike the American alligator the crocodile can only be found in the southernmost tip of Florida and they tend to much less aggressive than their African and Australian counterparts. They have narrower snouts than alligators, grow larger, and are much harder to come across.
Unlike Alligators who like freshwater, they prefer salt or brackish water and are generally found in the upper Keys and the Everglades. If you want to see animals in the Florida Everglades this is the one to look out for. We can recommend a trip to Key Largo’s Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
West Indian Manatee
There is nothing like swimming with manatees, they are giant, gentle animals often referred to as sea cows. Last year they were taken off the endangered list and moved to threatened, so seeing one is a real treat. Just like cows, they graze on seagrass and you can find them in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas.
These gentle animals can grow to ten feet long and 1000 weigh pounds so let’s just say if you see one you are unlikely to blink and miss it.
They love warm water so most manatees can be found in southern Florida waters and often migrate in the winter to the Caribbean and northern coastline of Brazil.
This is one of the animals in Florida we will advise seeing. take a look at 12 Best Places To See Wild Manatees in Florida
Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin
You can often sit in the beaches in Florida and see dolphin fins in the distance, you may also see them alongside you on a boat trip. They can be spotted all year round. The best way to get up close is to go on an organized dolphin watching cruise, a dolphin swims program at an aquarium, or see them at parks and sanctuaries from Northwest Florida to the Everglades.
I think most of us just feel great when seeing Dolphins; there is something about them that is so soothing. They are friendly playful animals and the best time to see them is 10 am-noon and then from 2 pm to dark. You are more likely to see them in May through August. The best places to spot them are Oskaloosa Island Pier, Crystal Beach, Eglin Beach Park, Miramar Beach, and Henderson Beach State Park Dolphins.
They say where you see dolphins there are also sharks and yes there are sharks in the Floridian waters. The waters are home to Blacktip Sharks, Spinner Sharks, Sandbar Sharks, Blacknose Sharks, Sharpnose Sharks, Bonnethead Sharks, Lemon Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Bull Sharks, and very rarely Great White Sharks.
Only Bull Sharks and Great White Sharks are dangerous to humans but attacks are rare. Only 1,032 documented shark attacks in the U.S. since 1690.
Often people confuse a Barracuda sighting as a shark sighting. While barracudas might have sharp teeth they are not generally dangerous but they will go after shiny things, so take off your rings.
And while we are talking about dangerous sea creatures keep an eye out for the box jellyfish; it has a lethal venom and there are 20-30 species of them ranging from an inch to ten feet. If you are diving make sure you know how they look and stay clear.
Florida Black Bear
An endangered species and hardly ever seen. The Florida black bear is the largest land animal that you will find in Florida and they live in wooded areas. They are seen most in the month of May but can also be spotted in June, July, August, and September.
They are mainly vegetarians, 80 % of their diet is made up of vegetatian and like any self-respecting bear, they love honey.
You tend to come across them in the national Floridian parks or perhaps Wekiwa Springs State Park near Orlando
But sightings are rare, so if you see one of these animals in Florida consider yourself very, very lucky.
One of the rarest and endangered mammals in the world. Florida panthers are usually found in hardwood hammocks, pinelands, and mixed swamp forests of the Everglades. A subspecies of the cougar, the Black Panther is the Florida state animal.
Though territorial and able to jump 15 feet vertically and 45 feet horizontally there has never been a reported human attack.
There are only 120-230 of them left in the wild, so seeing them in the wild is almost impossible. We recommend going to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Unfortunately, one of the animals in Florida that might not be around much longer.
Say Pelican and I’m sure the famous rhyme, ‘A wonderful bird is the pelican, his bill will hold more than his belican!” comes to mind. Pelicans are not difficult to see in Florida and if you do a bit of fishing don’t be surprised to find one sat beside you, waiting to be fed.
They are funny, strange, and odd birds who seem unafraid of humans. Pelicans can often cause a bit of a nuisance, but you can’t help but love them.
There are two types of Pelicans in Florida, the brown pelicans that are in Florida all year round and the American white pelican that migrate to Florida in winter. And if you ever get to feed one you will see why they can “hold in their beak enough for a week!”.
To see them in large numbers head to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.
One of the animals in Florida that isn’t hard to find.
This small deer is only 2 ½ feet tall and weighs just 90 pounds. As the name suggests they are only found in the Keys of southern Florida. A subspecies of the white-tailed deer, there are between 700-800 of them left and they mostly live in the hardwood hammocks of Big Pine Key. You are most likely to see them at dusk and dawn as this is when they are most active.
The deer and their habitat are protected by numerous regulations, so please do not approach one if you see it. The best place to see them is the National Key Deer Refuge.
If you are all about pink then this bird is for you. It has a fuchsia body with a bright red shoulder patch and a long, flat bill. It looks like something you would see in a children’s storybook. Out of all the animals in Florida, this is by far the most unusual and whimsical.
You will know if you see one as they don’t look like any other bird. If you do see one consider yourself lucky as the only place to see them is Florida.
During summer they can be seen throughout Florida and at other times mostly in southern Florida. Head to the beautiful Sanibel Island to get a peek at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
If you are a cat person, this one is for you. While you may not get a glimpse of the Florida panther, seeing a bobcat is much more likely. They are twice the size of domestic house cats and have a bobbed tail. Don’t be fooled by the cuteness – these cats have razor-sharp teeth and powerful claws.
Bobcats are quite shy animals but they can often be seen hunting for small rodents on deserted roads at dusk and dawn. They are rarely seen during the day expect December to April, which is breeding season.
See them at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and Wekiwa Springs State Park.
My question is, who doesn’t want to see a sea turtle? The Florida sea turtle tends to be the loggerhead turtle, namely because it has a block-like head. They are the largest of the sea turtles and average about 3 feet and 275 pounds.
You are most likely to see sea turtles while diving or during nesting season which, is May to October. The best place to see them is from Titusville to Sebastian Inlet and the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which has the densest population of nesting Loggerhead sea turtles in the Western Hemisphere. You are most likely to see them on public turtle walks in June and July.
One of the animals in Florida worth going out your way to see.
Also, take a look at this article 7 Best Places To See Wild Sea Turtles In Florida.
We couldn’t talk about animals in Florida without talking about snakes. There are 50 species of snakes in Florida but there only six that are dangerous to humans. There are also believed to be between 5,000 and 180,000 Burmese pythons in the Everglades. Though not native to the area, irresponsible pet ownership has led to them escaping and breeding.
Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnakes are the most common venomous snakes in Florida. The one you are most likely to have heard of is the Cottonmouth or Water Moccasin, mainly due to the survival programs on TV.
The other venomous snakes are the Southern Copperheads, Eastern Coral Snakes, Eastern Diamondbacks, and Timber Rattlesnakes.
We recommend you only go looking for snakes if you know what you are doing and can identify the most dangerous ones. And remember, snakes are not aggressive animals and will only bite if cornered or disturbed.
We hope this article has convinced you to see Florida in a slightly different light; it’s not all theme parks and beaches. If you are prepared to go searching there are some great animals in Florida that you can see. Please let me know if you see any of this Florida wildlife on your travels. Also, let us know what other native Florida animals you would add to the list.