FWF News Articles
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All of the below snakes are often vibrantly colored, and you should consider yourself lucky to find any one of them in your backyard or out on a trail. If you’re unsure of the identity of a snake, the best course of action is to leave it alone! Each snake plays an important role in our ecosystems here in Florida, so we must always refrain from killing native snakes, even if we think they might be venomous.
The forage fish species on our coasts and seas, although small in size, are critical to the well-being of the entire saltwater food chain. Examples of forage fish are pinfish, mullet, menhaden and anchovies. Due to the importance of aquatic forage species, Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) remains an active member of the Forage Fish Coalition, an effort to bring needed attention and resources to the research and conservation of these often underappreciated and overlooked saltwater fish.
One of our state’s most iconic creatures is the alligator. This ancient species is estimated to have existed on the planet for 150-230 million years! That means they lived with the dinosaurs.
Florida has some wildlife species that only live here, and one of them is the Florida scrub jay.
Florida is blessed with five types of owls: the barred or swamp owl, the great-horned owl, the white-faced barn owl, the tiny screech owl and the distinctive burrowing owl. While each is special in its own way, the burrowing owl is distinctive in that it is a bird that lives underground! In Florida, they may be found in the central and southern parts of the peninsula and grow to a little under 10 inches in height. With long legs adapted to life on the ground, they eat mice, moles and insects such as termites and grasshoppers, and prefer prairies or pastures in which to live
Wonderful pictures of a newly emerged giant silk moth called Polyphemus, Antheraea polyphemus, were recently shared with me. Hanging with its wings folded, the moth’s size and antennae are noticeable features. Its wingspan is 4-6 inches and the comb-like antennae are sensitive to smell, useful for finding food or mates, and possibly navigation. Polyphemus has eye spots on all 4 wings, with two distinctive spots said to mimic the eyes of a larger animal – maybe even a Great Horned Owl. That should be enough to scare off a host of predators!
Our gray fox is a member of the canine, or dog family, but acts like a cat! It weighs about as much as a house cat, 7-13 pounds, and hunts its prey by stalking just like our feline tabbies and kitties do. Gray foxes eat rodents, reptiles and even berries and fruit.
The Florida panther is Florida's official state animal and has been listed as a federally endangered species since 1967. Historically, the Florida panther roamed across the southeastern portion of the United States—all the way from Florida to Louisiana throughout the Gulf Coast states and Arkansas. Today the breeding population is limited to the southern tip of Florida.
Monarch butterflies have captured the imagination of many people and it’s easy to see why. Monarchs are big and bold. Their bright colors warn predators that the butterflies are poisonous to many. They are excellent fliers, with one generation flying up to thousands of miles to locations where they will overwinter.
Our wonderful native Florida black bear is a smaller version of the much more common Eastern black bear. Generally shy and reclusive unless protecting cubs, it has good eyesight up close and possibly the best sense of smell of all native animals.