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Watching Wildlife in the Everglades

Everglades National Park has a unique climate, providing a habitat for wildlife you cannot see anywhere else. Nestled in Central Florida, the Everglades are one of the best places in the world to observe the American alligator. That’s why millions of people this year will make their voyage to Florida to see what all the fuss is about.

The Everglades’ Most Watched Animals

Manatees: The West Indian Manatee is the most symbolic animal of the entire Everglades network, known as the gentle giants or sea cows of Florida. They spend hours each day grazing on marine grasses and other aquatic plants. Presently listed as endangered due to boat propeller injuries, try to use non-propeller machines when touring the Everglades.

American Alligator: Dwelling in freshwater marshes of the park, sometimes venturing into the Florida Bay, the American Alligator has made its way off of the endangered list. Essential to the Everglades’ system since they create “gator holes” that many other species rely on, the American Alligator is a remarkable, prehistoric species we should never take for granted.

American Crocodile: Distinguished from the alligator by its pointed noise and visible rows of teeth when the mouth is closed, these crocodiles can be seen in mangrove swamps, creeks, and bays throughout the Everglades.

White-Tailed Deer: Identified by the white underside of their tails, dappled with spots that disappear as they grow, the white-tailed deer are prey for alligators and the occasional Florida panther.

Turtles: There are over a dozen species of turtle that are known to the Everglades, as well as some tortoises and terrapins. They include the loggerhead, Atlantic hawksbill, Florida snapping turtle, and the Atlantic leatherback.

Florida Panther: This rare and critically endangered animal is a subspecies of the mountain lion that reaches up to 6 feet in length. By 1990, it was estimated there were only 50 cats left. The park authorities are working hard to bring it back from extinction.

Bottlenosed Dolphin: The Atlantic bottlenosed dolphin is commonly found in the estuarine and marine areas of the Everglades. They range in size from 8 to 12 feet long, living in pods that vary from two to 15 dolphins.

In recent years, there have been several baby and pet deaths at the hands of Florida alligators and crocodiles. Do not let children or pets swim in any bodies of water, as well as stand at the shoreline.

Viewing Locations

Where are the best places to get a sight of some of North America’s most famous species?

  • Shark Valley: alligators, wading birds, snakes, turtles
  • Royal Palm: alligators, wading birds
  • Eco Pond: alligators, wading birds
  • Snake Bite: wading birds
  • Chokoloskee Bay: wading birds
  • Flamingo Area: dolphins, manatees, sharks, birds of prey

When Should You Go?

Although winter might make it challenging to explore parks like Yellowstone, it’s actually the best time of year to foray into the Everglades National Park. Weather conditions are most pleasant, with water levels low. Since the levels are low, wildlife will congregate at central water locations.

The Everglades provides a habitat you can’t find in any other park around the United States. It is highly recommended that you make time to see some of these incredible species before they go extinct.