Florida Everglades is the largest wetland wilderness in the US. It is located at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, mainly south of Lake Okeechobee. The greater Everglades ecosystem extends north to Lake Kissimmee. Common Snapping Turtle, Northern Raccoon and Great blue heron are some of the famous animals in Florida Everglades.
The Everglades is a complex of low-lying, densely vegetated wetlands incorporating a mosaic of habitats. The region lacks the scenic grandeur of some other US national parks, but an area in the south was granted protected status in 1934 on account of its unique ecology and biodiversity. The diverse array of interlinking habitats are defined by the depth, quality, and salinity of the water, and the frequency and duration of flooding.
River of grass
The park’s coastal ecosystems include estuaries, tidal mangrove swamps, and coastal prairies dominated by salt- and drought-tolerant succulent plants. These give way inland to prairies and sparsely canopied forests of fast-growing slash pine, which are periodically razed by fire. The prairies are interspersed with lower-lying areas almost permanently inundated with water flowing slowly south from Lake Okeechobee toward Florida Bay.
These wet sawgrass prairies—known locally as the river of grass—include areas of sluggish open water, or sloughs, and cypress swamps. Small patches of slightly higher ground support hammocks of hardwood forest with trees including tropical mahogany and temperate oak, usually dripping with ferns and airplants (epiphytes).
More than 300 species of fish live in the Everglades, along with the largest breeding populations of tropical waders in North America. The region is also home to 50 species of reptile, including the American alligator and the threatened American crocodile.
Common Snapping Turtle and Other Animals in Florida Everglades-
1. Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Ranging as far north as Alberta, Canada, and as far south as the US Gulf Coast, some snapping turtles have even been seen in the Rocky Mountains—no mean feat for an animal that prefers to spend most of its time in muddy freshwater lakes and rivers.As the name suggests, the snapping turtle bites. Highly aggressive on land, it is prone to snapping the heads off other turtles or taking a bite out of anything it comes across.
The shells of older snapping turtles are usually covered in algae, enhancing their camouflage as they hide in wait for prey. Adults sometimes travel long distances overland and can end up as traffic fatalities, whereas hatchlings are vulnerable to attack by raccoons, herons, and skunks, as well as other turtles.
2. Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Dexterous, intelligent, and adaptable, the northern raccoon is found in practically every North American environment, from swamp to mountains, urban streets to farmland. Once a tropical animal that foraged mainly along riverbanks, it has changed into a pan-continental species. Raccoons are now found in a variety of habitats, including deserts and mountains, where they were previously rare, but they prefer watercourses.
Adapt and Thrive
“Flexible” describes this extremely successful omnivore best. Raccoons are optimal survivors, locating food in ponds and streams, in trees, and on the ground in the wild, as well as in gutters, garbage cans, and rooftops in cities. Above all, Insects, frogs, rodents, eggs, nuts, and berries make up their diet in the wild. However in urban areas, they consume almost anything edible they come across—they even raid birdfeeders and outdoor feeding stations of domestic animals.
An adult raccoon is strong enough to hold a dog’s head underwater
Raccoons generally make their dens in hollow trees or burrows in the wild, where they hole up during the day and emerge to hunt at dusk. They are just as willing to live in barns, crawl spaces, and attics. Raccoons thrive in towns and cities due to a plentiful supply of food and a lack of natural predators such as coyotes, bobcats, and pumas.
Further, Raccoons are exceedingly dexterous. The five toes on their forepaws function in the same way as human fingers, allowing them to grasp and manipulate food, as well as turn doorknobs and release latches. They are strong swimmers, relying heavily on their sense of touch—the sensitivity of which may increase underwater. When feeling around for prey such as frogs and shellfish.
Even though its hindlegs are longer than its forelegs—giving it a hunched appearance. The raccoon can run at speeds up to 15 mph (24 km/h).Females give birth to a litter of three or four young, from multiple fathers, called kits, in spring. The kits begin to follow their mother on her nocturnal forays when they are 8–10 weeks old, and remain with her until they are 13–14 months old.
FEELING FOR FOOD
3. Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)
The great blue heron is the largest wading bird in North America. Herons worldwide have a similar long neck, curled back between the shoulders in flight or when the bird is resting, but stretched out to grab a passing fish with a lightning strike of the long, sharp bill.
Great blue herons are masters of “wait-and-watch” predation and patient stalking, standing like shadowy statues in the shallows for hours. They can be surprisingly aerobatic around their treetop colonies, where up to six eggs are incubated for 27 days. The chicks are fed by both parents for up to 80 days before they can fly. One subspecies, A. h. occidentalis, occurs in a pure white form in Florida.
4. Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
Found commonly in swamps and waterways, the anhinga is the Americas’ equivalent of the similar African darter. It roosts on trees and mangroves, but leaves to feed soon after sunrise, flying to open water. It swims low in the water, head and neck raised, earning the alternative name “snakebird.”
With unusually dense bones and plumage that quickly absorbs water, the anhinga sinks easily and swims underwater for up to a minute. It does not have the powerful legs of the cormorants for active pursuit, but feeds more like an underwater heron, waiting for a chance to spear a passing fish. Special vertebrae and neck musculature give its neck a permanent kink, and an instant, rapid forward stab.
The anhinga then rises to the surface, shakes the fish free, and swallows it.Anhingas nest in mixed colonies with other tree-nesting birds. The female builds the nest from twigs and reeds collected by the male. Up to six eggs are incubated for three to four weeks. The chicks are fed at first with pre-digested fish from the parents’ throats and then whole fish. They leave the nest after six weeks, but remain dependent on their parents for a few more weeks.
5. American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
This fearsome predator is restricted to wetlands and swamps of the southeastern US, and propels itself through water with its muscular, laterally flattened tail. Moreover on land, the American alligator can crawl on its underside or lift its body off the ground in a slow, waddling walk. If it draws its legs fully below its body, it can gallop for short distances, charging faster than many humans can run.
Mostly a night hunter, it drifts or swims stealthily, then lunges at its prey.Courtship and mating begin in April and May, with the males roaring and bellowing as low as they can to attract females. In August, 30–50 babies hatch in a nest mound of warm decomposing vegetation gathered by the mother. Most importantly, she listens for the hatching babies’ chirps, helps them out of the nest, and carries them in her mouth down to the water.
Size, power, and a thick skin mean an adult alligator has little to fear, but the young are vulnerable to predators and are protected by their mother for up to three years.
6. Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)
Combining ease of movement on land and on floating leaves with the ability to swim like a duck, the gallinule is a waterside all-rounder that lives in tropical wetlands.Moreover it prefers dense vegetation with open channels and ditches.
Its dishlike nest, made of grasses on a floating mat of weed or attached to reed stems, contains up to 10 eggs, which hatch after 20 days. The chicks feed themselves after a week, become independent three weeks later, and fly when five to seven weeks old.
7. Northern gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
Slight, quick, and agile, the gray fox is a capable climber, often resting as high as 59 ft (18 m) in trees out of reach of predators such as coyotes and dogs.
Mainly nocturnal and a solitary hunter, it preys on rabbits and rodents in the winter, but its diet varies with the season and, like most foxes, it will eat almost anything it comes across. Both parents raise the pups, which are independent by fall.
8. West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)
With their bulgy bodies, broad heads, and wide, whiskery muzzles, West Indian manatees resemble walruses. But their closest living relatives are the elephant and the tiny, hooved, rodentlike hyrax.
Gentle and slow-moving, manatees never haul out on land and cannot survive in cold conditions. Moreover, They graze on salt- and freshwater plants, an activity that, along with their shape and docile nature, has earned them the nickname “sea cow.
9. Golden silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)
The golden silk orbweaver is one of the largest American web-spinning spiders.In addition it builds a strong, semipermanent web between trees in swamps and woodlands. The web of a mature female may be 3 ft (1 m) wide, not including the anchoring strands.
The species is named after the yellow-tinged silk of the web, which may transmit the green light reflecting off surrounding plants, making it harder to see when in the shade. When lit by the sun, the silk’s gold color may attract flower-seeking insects, such as butterflies and bees, which become the spider’s victims.
LITTLE AND LARGE
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Frequently Asked Questions about Common Snapping Turtle and Other Animals in Florida Everglades-
Florida Everglades is located at the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, mainly south of Lake Okeechobee. The greater Everglades ecosystem extends north to Lake Kissimmee.
Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias)
Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)
Northern gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)
West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)
Golden silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes)
The Everglades are tropical, with two seasons: warm and dry from December to April, hot and wet from May to November.