Animals of the Everglades

Discover Alligators, Thousands of Birds and Rare Animals

In the Everglades National Park, numerous animals live. And, it is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles live side by side. But in the Everglades, many animals live. When you visit the Everglades, you will see a lot. There are various excursions to see the animals.

American Alligator

The American alligator is the most commonly seen animal in the Everglades. You can see them lying at the water's edge or quietly floating in the water. This animal is found throughout the southern US and is generally feared. They grow to be about 3 to 4 metres long, although animals nearly 6 metres long have been seen. Alligators eat pretty much everything and also attack humans if they get a chance. Of all the crocodile species in the world, this is the one that lives furthest north. You can recognize them by their wide head, while no teeth protrude from their mouth. They are easily observed in the Everglades.

American Crocodile

An American crocodile.

Despite its misleading name, this animal is also found in Central and South America. In the US, they only exist in the southern part of Florida, particularly in the Everglades. These animals can grow to about 4 meters long and eat birds, mammals, and even rotting meat. They are recognizable by their narrow head. Even when their mouth is closed, you can see a few prominent teeth.

You can mainly spot them near Chokoloskee. This relatively unknown archipelago comprises tens of thousands of islands on the west coast of the park, where the rare American crocodile can still live relatively undisturbed in bustling Florida.

To see these animals, you need to be lucky. They are difficult to find; the famous canoe trip via the Wilderness Waterway partly goes through their habitat.

Alligator Snapping Turtle (or Alligator Turtle)

The alligator snapping turtle is one of the most remarkable turtles in the world. This snapping turtle, measuring over a meter long, is only found in Florida and the surrounding provinces of the United States. It loves shallow water and rarely leaves the water. With one bite, it can sever a human finger or toe. It mainly eats fish, which it catches in a unique way. The turtle lies on the bottom with its mouth wide open. It only moves its tongue, which resembles a worm, and unsuspecting fish are caught when the jaws snap shut. The turtle is named after the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck. The chance of seeing this animal in the Everglades, especially due to the murky water, is extremely small. However, information about this remarkable creature can be found in the visitor centers.

Snapping Turtle (or Snapper)

The snapping turtle is the smaller brother of the alligator snapping turtle. But small is relative, as this animal can grow to about 40 cm. And the animal has razor-sharp, very strong jaws. This creature too is capable of biting off a finger. According to scientists, they are more aggressive than the alligator snapping turtles, thus caution is advised. They eat anything that comes in front of their mouths, including dead meat. These animals also occasionally hide in the mud waiting for prey to swim by. In the Everglades, you can quite easily see these creatures in the water if you pay close attention. Or you might see them crossing the road.

Manatee (or Caribbean Manatee)

A manatee.

This is a lovely creature. The manatee is the largest species of manatees that live worldwide. This species lives underwater and grows to about three meters long. The animal lives in lagoons, rivers, estuaries, and along the coast. Basically, wherever its favourite food, seagrass, grows. The animals only become sexually mature after seven years. In addition, usually only one calf is born. As a result, the current population in Florida is slowly growing. Their numbers have decreased significantly in recent years due to human development of their habitat. In addition, manatees are quite often victims of motorboats' propellers. Occasionally, these animals are spotted, especially in the area towards the open sea.

Florida Panther

The Florida panther is the most illustrious animal in Florida. This subspecies of the cougar leaves only footprints behind for many people. Scientists have been debating the status of the animal for decades. Some say it is a separate species, while others argue that it is not even a subspecies. The population in Florida is the only one in the eastern part of the entire America. Their numbers range from a few dozen to about two hundred. Tourists occasionally spot the animal near the Old Ingraham Highway.

Common Raccoon

The common raccoon is a well-known inhabitant of North America. These initially cute animals can be recognized by their black and white mask around their eyes. But they can bite surprisingly hard when they feel threatened. Their natural diet consists of fish, meat, and fruits, but this omnivore adapts quickly. That's why they are often seen at campsites and near garbage dumps. These animals are extremely skillful with their paws. Scientists have observed them carrying food with their front paws or easily opening garbage bins with a lid.

American Black Bear (or Baribal)

The black bear is smaller than the brown bear. And you can encounter one near humans, such as in campsites, suburbs, and garbage dumps. This is the only bear species in the world that is growing in numbers. The reason is that it adapts to humans. They are naturally perfect tree climbers. Their food consists of buds, twigs, leaves, nuts, roots, fruits, and berries. They are opportunistic: if they come across fish, insects, larvae, or honey, they will grab it. There are also stories known of them even killing medium-sized mammals. The black bear is occasionally spotted in the forests of Florida. You definitely have a chance of seeing one on longer hikes.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Florida is notorious for its various types of rattlesnakes. The absolute king being the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. This is the largest venomous snake in the US, with a maximum length of 2.5 meters. Although most individuals do not exceed 1.5 to 1.7 meters. It is also one of the most dangerous, causing deadly victims every year. This is because the snakes wait in ambush for their prey to pass by. Their main menu consists mainly of rabbits, mice, and rats. You can recognize them by the distinctive white 'diamond-shaped' patterns on their back and the well-known rattle at the end of their tail. The chance of encountering this nocturnal animal is small, but present. Most visitor centers have antivenom readily available.

American Bald Eagle

The American bald eagle is the national symbol of the United States. And a striking appearance with its brown plumage and white chest and tail. Its sharp beak and legs are brightly yellow coloured. Eagles can grow up to a meter in size and have a wingspan of 2.4 meters. This bald eagle grabs fish from the water with its legs. Although it also likes rabbits or dead meat. This bird was shot everywhere for a long time, which even threatened its extinction. In the meantime, there are enough of them living in the US and Canada, the only countries where the animal occurs. Most of the time, these impressive birds are seen sitting in a tree. With a bit of luck, you can see them hunting above the water.


An osprey feeding its new born.

The bird of prey is one of the largest opportunistic raptors. The osprey can be found on almost every continent. They are recognizable by their brown wings and white chests. As the name suggests, this animal mainly eats fish, which they catch with their claws from the water. Special hooks are attached to their legs to grab the slippery fish. Ospreys are relatively often seen resting on a branch.

Little Blue Heron

The little blue heron is one of the many heron species in the Everglades. It loves saltwater, but is often found in brackish or freshwater. Its habitat covers the entire east coast of North to South America. The little blue heron is known for its distinct blue color, with young birds being white in color. These herons can grow over 70 cm long. Their diet consists of fish, frogs, amphibians, snakes, and crayfish, among other things. There are many little blue herons living in the Everglades, so it is not difficult to spot them.

Pink Spoonbill

The pink spoonbill is easily recognizable by its spoon-shaped beak and red or pink colour. In shallow swamps, he filters invertebrates from the water with his beak. These animals are mainly seen in the Everglades during winter, which is remarkable because this animal was almost extinct in the 19th century. Its colourful feathers were very popular and were used for hats and fans until the animal was internationally protected around 1940.

Bald Ibis

The wood stork is a typical marsh bird. And it is one of the larger birds in the 'Glades'. The wood stork can grow up to a meter in size and lives in groups. Their diet consists mainly of fish, reptiles, frogs, and invertebrate water animals. They stand in the water and move their open beak back and forth. When the bird encounters prey, the beak is quickly closed and swallowed. They can be recognized by their black featherless head. Their plumage on the rest of the body is white. The chances of seeing them in winter are high.

Marsh Harrier (or Snail Kite)

The Marsh Harrier feeds almost exclusively on the freshwater snails that live in these marshes. With its special beak, this bird of prey can extract these animals from their protective homes. Due to its specialization, it is entirely dependent on the number of snails, which makes it very sensitive to changes, especially when the number of snails decreases. These birds are about 50 cm in size. The males are blue-grey in color, while their legs and beak are yellow to reddish. The females are more brown and white mixed. This bird is not seen very often, but it is one of the few birds of prey that is mainly seen above the marshes.

American Cormorant (or Crested Cormorant)

The American cormorant is the most common cormorant species in the US. American cormorants can be easily recognized by their orange-yellow bill and characteristic posture when perched. They mainly feed on fish that they catch by diving underwater. After a meal, they dry their wings in the sun by spreading them wide. You can encounter these birds along the water's edge everywhere, but the Anhinga Trail is famous for its large numbers of cormorants.

Black Ibis

The name of the black ibis is somewhat confusing. Usually it is dark brown and some feathers are fluorescent green or purple. Their beak is curved, with the tip bent downward to fish for food in the water. They are fairly large birds, which can grow over 60 cm in size. Black ibises are usually seen together in groups near swamps. Hundreds of black ibises live in the Everglades, but they are fairly shy.

White Ibis

The white ibis is one of the animals that scientists are concerned about in the Everglades. Their numbers have decreased significantly in the past decades, and the reason for this is not entirely clear. They can be recognized by their white feathers and pink legs and beak. During the breeding season, both the male and female ibis have brightly red-coloured legs and beaks. You can spot them, among other places, at Shark Alley as they wade through the water in search of crayfish and insects.

American Anhinga

The American anhinga, also known as snakebird or Amercian Darter, is a characteristic sight in the Everglades. Its noticeably long neck is clearly visible when it swallows a fish. And like many cormorants, this bird often dries its wings in the sun by spreading them out. During the mating season, the males develop a striking blue-green colour around their eyes. You can almost always see them on the Anhinga Trail.

American Little Egret

The American little egret is a strikingly white egret, growing to about 60 cm in size. It closely resembles the little egret found in Europe, Africa, and Asia, but it is a separate species. 

The American little egret only lives in the Americas, which is an area from North to South America. This bird wades through the water in search of fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and frogs. The likelihood of seeing this bird in the Everglades is high.

Best Time for the Everglades

The Everglades has roughly two seasons: the dry tourist season (November through May) and the season of mosquitoes and sand fleas (June through October). The dry tourist season also means that it can be busy. Especially excursions can quickly be fully booked. Below are some handy tips to plan your visit. Note: book your excursion online in advance to make sure you can join.

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