Do you know that there are an estimated 10.2 million acres of freshwater wetlands in Florida? That’s 31% of the whole state, which is astoundingly huge, right?
These wetlands support both aquatic and terrestrial species, which means many plants and animals thrive in these areas. The prolonged presence of water gives these living things the necessary conditions that favor their growth.
Another interesting fact about the wetlands of Florida is that about a third of the United State’s endangered species live here. Are you ready to learn what animals live in wetlands of Florida? Let’s discuss!
First on our list of what animals live in the wetlands of Florida are birds. Wetlands provide habitat and food sources to birds so they can survive. Some of them spend their whole life in these wetlands, while the others visit annually due to migration.
Most of the birds that you will see in wetlands are waterbirds. They inhabit different wetlands, such as lagoons, mudflats, swamps, estuaries, bays, open beaches, saltwater and freshwater lakes, dams, and floodplain wetlands. These waterbirds include the following:
Moreover, these waterbirds can be classified into three main categories: colonial nesting, non-colonial, and migratory. Colonial nesting waterbirds are the ones that need notable floods to bolster large breeding events in floodplain wetlands. The birds that fall into this category are ibises, cormorants, egrets, herons, and pelicans.
On the other hand, non-colonial birds don’t need to gather together to breed. They use wetlands as nesting and feeding grounds while raising their young. Some birds included in this category are shorebirds, grebes, crakes, rails, waterfowls, and waterhens. Last but not least are migratory waterbirds, who utilize vast wetlands for resting, feeding, and breeding every year after traveling several miles from other places.
When asked what animals live in wetlands of Florida, you can’t forget about fish. Florida is a famous hotspot for anglers all over the world- this is because its wetlands house the majority of the best sports fish. Also, fishing competitions are held in this state annually. One of the most famous gamefish is the largemouth bass, which can grow into astounding trophy sizes in Florida during warm seasons.
Most of the endemic and regular fish in Florida can be found in the Everglades, which is a 1.5 million-acre wetland preserve. Here is a list of these fish species:
- Florida Gar
- Brown Bullhead
- Everglades Pygmy Fish
- Sailfin Molly
- Great Barracuda
- Bluespotted Sunfish
- Common Carp
- Colon Goby
- Alligator Gar
- Longnose Gar
You can join the fishing culture in Florida and catch these fantastic fish species. The only requirements are to have a Florida fishing license and abide by their fishing rules and regulations, which are in place to protect the aquatic wildlife in the state.
The wetlands in Florida are home not just to birds and fish but also to 27 native frog species. Some frogs inhabit large lakes, while others live in small isolated wetlands. Furthermore, they have varying physical characteristics, such as sticky toe pads, webbed feet, spaded feet, smooth, moist skin, and dry, warty skin.
Here’s a list of the 27 native frog species that you may find in the wetlands of Florida:
- American Bullfrog
- Carpenter Frog
- Florida Bog Frog
- Pig Frog
- Green Frog
- River Frog
- Southern Leopard Frog
- Pine Barrens Tree Frog
- Little Grass Frog
- Gray Tree Frog
- Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
- Spring Peeper
- Bird-Voiced Tree Frog
- Pine Woods Tree Frog
- Upland Chorus Frog
- Southern Cricket Frog
- Northern Cricket Frog
- Southern Chorus Frog
- Ornate Chorus Frog
- Barking Tree Frog
- Fowler’s Toad
- Oak Toad
- Cane Toad
- Southern Toad
- Greenhouse Frog
- African Clawed Frog
- Eastern Spadefoot
These frogs can be divided into different classifications: true frogs, tree and chorus frogs, and true toads. True frogs are typically smooth-skinned, have large and powerful legs, and are aquatic or live close to water. They lay their eggs in the water, and those eggs go through a tadpole stage here as well.
Tree and chorus frogs produce noise together and can climb on trees with their sticky toes. Lastly, true toads are mainly active at night and are the only frogs with a Bidder’s organ.
Next on our list of what animals live in wetlands are mammals. You will find most of them in the Everglades. The Everglades is home to a complex network of plants and animals. Besides that, it also houses several endangered animal species, making it an important part of Florida’s ecosystem.
Some of the popular mammals that you may find living in the Everglades wetlands include the marsh rabbit, North American river otter, manatees, striped skunk, common bottlenose dolphin, and many more. But, if you are looking for a rare sight, you can also watch out for the threatened and endangered animals in this area, which include the West Indian manatee, Blodgett’s silverbush, Florida panther, and Florida bonneted hat.
Last but not least in our list of what animals live in wetlands are reptiles. There are more than 50 unique kinds of reptiles that inhabit the wetlands of Florida. Most of them are also threatened and endangered, which is why the state is putting more effort into wildlife conservation.
Some of the reptiles that you may witness as you go through the wetlands of Florida are the American Alligator, caiman, American crocodile, eastern indigo snake, loggerhead, green turtle, black swamp snake, green iguana, timber rattlesnake, and more.
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