Florida’s wilderness and swamplands serve as the home for many animal species, soemthing you would see on our Orlando eco tour, but some are a little more wild than others. The Sunshine State has been the source of several news reports about bear attacks, python sightings, and shark attacks. Several coastal destinations around Florida have been named the ‘shark bite capital of the world’ and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has had to step in numerous times to set guidelines for Florida residents to steer clear of animal encounters.
The Case of the Burmese Python
Most recently, Florida wildlife officials have coordinated civilian ‘python patrols’ to train locals on how to capture the Burmese python. The Burmese python population is out of control with an estimated 150,000 pythons occupying the southern half of the state. These snakes were first spotted in the ‘70s and have become one of the top predators in the Everglades. The Burmese python is capable of eating whole alligators and other species.
Bear Attacks in Florida
Florida has made headlines news several times for black bear attacks across the state. According to the National Geographic Society, the number of black bear attacks is on the rise in Florida because the population is growing quickly and more people are encountering black bears in their neighborhood. People that get into the habit of feeding wildlife only exacerbate the problem because black bears are more likely to keep returning to the area where they have been fed. Experts say this is dangerous when the animal becomes desensitized to human contact and may end up hurting someone as a result.
Florida is currently dealing with a snake and bear problem but is also home to a number of wild and weird animals. The SunSentinel has rounded up some of the strangest animals and critters around the Sunshine State, putting the spotlight on the Frankenfish, Man-O-War, anole (a very fast lizard) and the iguana. Check out the complete list here.
For more information on Florida’s crazy wildlife, the animal pros at Wild Florida are more than happy to talk with you. During our Orlando eco tour, we provide a ton of information on Florida’s wildlife and want you to walk away feeling a little bit closer to the nature here.
If you’ve ever wanted to explore the Everglades but don’t have the gear to trek through the wilderness, swamps, and lakes on your own, touring the terrain on an air boat ride may be a better option. Air boat operators around Florida have been taking visitors on countless tours of the Everglades to see native plants and animals up close, learn about the foliage and vegetation of Florida, and enjoy the swamp land from a fresh perspective. However, the Park Service recently announced that it will stop granting new licenses to privately-owned air boat operators meaning Everglades air boat rides may be a thing of the past.
Park Service General Management Plan Ends Private Air Boating
The most recent proposal from the Park Service would end all private air boating in the East Everglades for the next 15 to 20 years. Existing commercial air boat tour operators along the famous Tamiami Trail may be bought out so that the park can turn them into concessionaires. If the new plan is adopted soon, more than 80,000 acres of the East Everglades would be designated as open wilderness which would mean no vehicles of any kind would be permitted on the grounds, according to the Miami Herald.
The Problem with the New Proposal
While the Park Service is making every effort to protect the Everglades for the next few decades, eliminating all air boat tours may not even be necessary. Airboats do not damage vegetation or interfere with wildlife. They provide a convenient and affordable mode of transportation for visitors that may not be able to access certain parts of the parks on their own and also serve as a safe and secure vehicle across multiple types of terrain.
Everglades air boat rides are designed to maneuver over water, swamp land, and dirt with minimal impact to the environment while providing a comfortable ride. Travelers have the chance to see Florida alligators up close, explore natural habitats, and enjoy scenes of the swamplands that aren’t accessible by foot or boat. If the proposal does pass, you will still be able to enjoy the headwaters of the Everglades at Wild Florida.
Animals are smarter than we think and it’s interesting to note how quickly they can adapt to humans interfering with their environment. In the State of Florida, many types of animals have been observed forming new habits and routines thanks to human intervention; we have seen it on our airboat rides!. These animals adopt these habits relatively quickly. Here are just a few unique ways wildlife in Florida have adapted to changes in their environment:
Manatees Settle in Power Plant Pipes
Manatees tend to flock to Florida during the winter to stay warm but have managed to also find refuge inside the pipes of coastal power plants. The steam-generation units draw in water that gets funneled back to waterways. The water coming out of these pipes is nice and warm for relaxing in, making it an ideal spot for manatees seeking a soothing place to rest.
Florida Wildlife and Climate Change
Whether climate change is caused by human activities or Mother Nature, animals throughout Florida are able to adapt to cooler temperatures. FloridaToday.com reports on how native amphibians tend to bury themselves into the earth or go underwater when temperatures drop below average win Florida. Frogs in particular are especially sensitive to the cold and some amphibians have an anti-freeze in their blood that prevents them from freezing to death when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Since some aren’t equipped to deal with cold temperatures, they do end up freezing to death once exposed to the cold.
Changes in climate and natural habitats throughout the State of Florida have prompted many native animals to adopt new behaviors in order to survive. Migration to Florida is commonplace for many species along the East Coast and northern states, but it is interesting to see how certain animals adapt to human interference. As climate change continues to be a problem, we may see even more unique behaviors and adaptation methods among native species.
For more information on Florida’s wildlife and how they adapt to the ever changing, Wild Florida welcomes you to speak to our animal experts. Our airboat ride can also take you “behind the scenes” of Florida so you can see first hand how the animals of this state live.
Want to do something different and exciting for your child’s birthday this year? How about a birthday party on the wild side? Your child and his or her guests can experience animals and an airboat ride at Wild Florida, located less than 30 minutes south of St. Cloud and Kissimmee and an hour away from downtown Orlando.
When you arrive for your wild party, we suggest you start with a 30-minute airboat ride and see how many animals the kids can count while gliding along Lake Cypress. If you are lucky, you will find a set of eyes staring back at you from the swampy area of the lake. Here are 7 animals the children might see on an airboat ride in Orlando. If you didn’t get enough of alligators in the wild, here are four other places your wilderness explorers can see wild alligators in Orlando in the Wild Florida Wildlife & Nature Park.
Seeing alligators is one thing, but getting to hold one is in the bragging rights category (and something every birthday boy or girl should be able to lay claim to). Learning about alligators from an animal trainer and getting your photo taken while holding a baby alligator is not something you get to do every day. And, each birthday boy or girl gets an alligator-themed gift after the party. Which, mom knows that means she doesn’t have to worry about party favors herself!
Having a wild birthday party at Wild Florida won’t break the bank, either. If you want to bring in pizza to your party, that’s okay with us. Admission to the Wild Florida Wildlife & Nature Park is only $10 per person and we’ll take 20% off the $23 price of a ticket for a child’s airboat ride.
For $15 per adult and $12 per child, the children in your birthday party gets space on our beautiful deck or picnic areas, admission to the Wildlife & Nature Park, a hands-on alligator demonstration, meal of hamburger, pulled pork, chicken strips, or sandwich with two sides and a drink.
Wild Florida can also add special touches like an alligator-shaped birthday cake and use of a 1,500-square-foot deck overlooking the swamp.
So, is your little one ready for a birthday party on the wild side? Get in touch with our party planner.
To assist with emergencies out on the lake, Detroit Lakes police, fire crews, and the Becker County Sheriff’s Department will be using new rescue boats that can travel over ground, snow, ice, and water. These versatile boats are now the newest rescue tool for emergency management officials and the Detroit Lakes Fire Department will be assisting with transporting the boat to the emergency site in Becker County.
Benefits of Airboats
Airboats offer a number of benefits for emergency teams because they are so versatile. Airboats were used to rescue flood victims quickly when Hurricane Katrina hit the southern states and can now be used to take care of emergencies in colder climates. The amphibious vehicles have a unique design that can be used by firefighters, EMS teams, and on search and rescue missions. These vehicles are designed with an advanced water pump system, an electronic control system, and a 420 HP turbine engine that provides plenty of power on even longer trips so Orlando’s Airboats are able to navigate the terrain and get to places traditional boats cannot.
In the State of Florida, the Broward Sheriff’s Office uses an airboat for the Everglades-emergency service. The airboat emergency vehicles have been used for many rescue missions around the Everglades and lush terrain of Florida. And of course, Orlando airboats offer recreational benefits as a convenient touring vehicle for airboat tour operators throughout the state.
How Airboats Can Help with Lake Rescues
Airboats can be used for search and rescue missions on icy lakes and in colder environments. These boats are strong enough to withstand below-zero temperatures for extended periods of time and can easily maneuver over water, broken ice, and even mounds of snow. Since the boats are also easy to transport, they can simply be launched near or on a frozen lake for any type of search and rescue mission. In Detroit, a 16-foot 2014 Ranger Rhino Airboat was purchased for $54,000 through a federal grant and is currently being stored with the fire department.
When it comes to Orlando airboat tours, there is simply no comparison to Wild Florida Airboats. Call us at 407-957-3135 or click here to book your adventure into Florida’s wildlife.
In an effort to save Florida’s endangered species, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is unveiling a new project that could protect many animals that currently inhabit more than five million acres of land throughout the state. This is just one of several projects funded by a new regional conservation partnership program available through the USDA’s natural resources conservation service. Everyone at Wild Florida is happy that our endangered species will be getting extra protection. Now who is getting this extra protection:
The Gopher Tortoise
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is working to protect the Gopher Tortoise, the Florida Panther, and the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow with this initiative. The Gopher Tortoise occupies upland habitat throughout the State of Florida and can often be found roaming in forests, pastures and even yards. The tortoise digs deep burrows underground and shares these borrows with hundreds of other species. Gopher sightings are very common in our Wild Florida park and airboat tours.
The Florida Panther
The Florida panther is classified as an umbrella species and can be found in nearly 1 million hectares of land in southwest Florida, according to the Florida PantherNet website. The Florida panther is the official state animal of Florida and has been an endangered species since 1967. Panthers tend to live in undeveloped and remote areas so human encounters with panthers are very rare. Any panther sightings can be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther sightings page.
The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow
According to the National Audubon Society, the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is a highly endangered species because it is so dependent on Florida dry prairie habitat. The sparrow does not migrate and very few people have actually seen or heard of it. The bird population continues to decline because these birds need native prairie in its prime condition where there is no brush or trees.
About the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has allocated more than $370 million towards 115 projects across all 50 states, including the State of Florida. In Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is receiving $2 million to lead the Regional Partnership for Conservation of Gopher Tortoise and At-Risk Species Habitat. More information about this program can be found here or come to Wild Florida. We would be happy to talk about our precious wildlife and what else can be done to protect them and then take an airboat tour to see our great land.
One thing the state of Florida doesn’t want you to see on your Everglades airboat tour is the Burmese python. The rapidly-growing population of Burmese python in the State of Florida has prompted wildlife officials to reach out to volunteers to capture these snakes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now holding monthly informational sessions about identifying and capturing Burmese pythons for the general public.
The Problem with Burmese Pythons
Experts report that there are currently 150,000 Burmese pythons living in the southern half of Florida. These snakes are the leading predator in the Florida Everglades. According to the U.S. National Park Service, Burmese pythons are among the largest snake species on earth and are now known to be breeding around the Florida Everglades. Park officials report that 2,000 pythons have been removed since 2002 and the release of these snakes into the park has had, and can have, devastating consequences.
Pythons prey on native wildlife, including mammals, birds, and even alligators. This can be problematic for the Florida Everglades ecosystem and puts many endangered plants and animals even more at risk. These snakes were first spotted in the 1970s and have continued to make appearances around the park. They are a non-venomous species.
Python Population Control Methods
The National Park Service has invested a significant amount of resources to get the Burmese python population under control. Detector dogs have helped to locate pythons throughout the park and the NPS has collaborated and partnered with several agencies and organizations to further support its efforts.
The monthly training sessions for the general public may or may not help. According to University of Florida, senior herpetologist Kenneth Krysko told Reuters that the entire approach is, ‘…ridiculous. You can’t have Joe Schmo grabbing these snakes.” Krysko does not believe that civilian intervention will help to reduce the python population in the Florida Everglades. Volunteers that do want to participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s efforts can complete a training class and apply for a permit to hunt for snakes on approved properties. The folks at Wild Florida are happy to explain more about what it means to Florida’s ecosystem if you do happen to see the python on your Everglades airboat tour. Purchase your ticket to our wildlife and nature park by clicking here: Buy Tickets.
Feeding wildlife on that next trip to the state park or other natural areas in Florida could end up costing you. If experiencing Florida’s wildlife is what you are looking for, an Orlando Airboat Tour can do that while respecting nature’s laws. Lawmakers now want to change the penalties for feeding wildlife after an incident where Longwood residents were feeding black bears in their neighborhood and a neighbor was attacked. Three people appeared in court and were charged with misdemeanor criminal offenses from the incident. Anyone caught feeding wildlife will be fined $100, under a new Florida law.
Summary of the Florida Wildlife Feeding Bill
The House of Representatives has conducted a complete analysis of the rules regulating feeding of wildlife on Florida land. According to the summary, voters amended the Florida Constitution to create the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 1998, an organization that has the power to adopt rules regulating wildlife and fresh water aquatic life without authority from the Legislature.
Page 8 of the document indicates that the FWC adopted rules to “prohibit intentionally feeding bears, foxes, and raccoons; pelicans; sandhill cranes; bald eagles; and alligators and crocodiles.” These rules were designed to protect the species and people. They report that animals fed by humans may become more comfortable being in contact with people and this can increase animal encounters on roads , which may increase the number of accidents, and feeding animals could disrupt their natural diet and affect behavior.
Proposed Penalties for Wildlife Feeding
The proposed penalties would charge a $100 fine as a noncriminal infraction for a first offense. A second offense would result in up to a $500 fine and/or up to 60 days in jail. A third offense would be a first degree misdemeanor for bears, alligators, and crocodiles, and a second degree misdemeanor for all other species of wildlife and freshwater fish. A fourth or subsequent offense would be a third degree felony with up to a $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in prison for bears, alligators, and crocodiles, and a second degree misdemeanor with up to a $500 fine and/or up to 60 days in jail for all other species of wildlife or freshwater fish. Wild Florida can get you close to nature on a Orlando airboat tour but keeps you within Florida’s wildlife laws.
If you take a ride on one of our airboats, chances are you will see an alligator in the wild.
However, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. There are times when she’s just not willing to put on a show. Sometimes, try as we might, our airboat captains aren’t always able to show off the wild alligators hanging out in Lake Cypress.
Alligators are most difficult to spot during the summer when it is hot out. Unless you’re an early riser or a night owl, you’re probably not going to spot an alligator. If you want to know more about alligator food habits and reproduction, you can learn all you want from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The best times of the year to spot alligators is March through May (which means we are coming up on one of the perfect times to see these amazing creatures) and September through November. However, if it’s raining during one those peak time periods, you may not see an alligator in the wild during an airboat ride. Alligators like sunny, mild days…they sure sound a lot like the general population when it comes to this weather request.
Even if you don’t see an alligator in the wild during an airboat ride, you are guaranteed to see alligators in our Wildlife and Nature Park at Wild Florida. There are four different places where you can see or interact with alligators at Wild Florida:
- Gator Handling Show – where animal trainers give a presentation about alligators and show off young reptiles.
- Gator Feeding Dock – where you will be able to view and feed alligators (if you’re brave enough, that is!)
- Gator Bridge – a walkway over the pond where more than 50 alligators live.
- Gator Platform – one last chance to see the alligators before leaving the park.
All four gator viewing areas are built around a pond holding alligators ranging in size from six feet to 13.5 feet long. It’s where the alligators live, mate, eat and nest and has become the centerpiece of the park.
We always hope you get to see an alligator in the wild when riding on an airboat on Lake Cypress, but just in case you don’t, you will be able catch of glimpse of the 50 wild alligators that live in our Wildlife and Nature Park, and that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service temporarily recently closed down Three Sisters Springs, which is a popular tourist waterway the first week in February when over 300 manatees swarmed the area. Tourists usually visit the area to swim and kayak. It is thought that the high concentration of manatees could be a result of habitats in other parts of Florida being lost, but it’s not highly unusual for the area.
During cold weather, manatees are also known to travel to warmer waters, which is why they also frequent the TECO power plant in Tampa Bay. “Because manatees don’t have any blubber to help them stay warm, they have to come into these warm water springs to stay warm,” Kimberly Sykes explained to the Business Insider. “If not, they could get cold-stress and die.”
Manatees, also known as sea cows, are large, fully aquatic mostly herbivorous marine mammals. They are currently protected as an endangered species, and they typically inhabit shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Carribean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. When enjoying an Orlando airboat ride with Wild Florida, you can often encounter manatees. There are manatees in other areas of the world including the West Indies, Amazone and West African.
To book an Orlando airboat ride with Wild Florida, purchase tickets on our website or at the door when you come to visit. During your airboat tour, you’ll encounter some of the most interesting indigenous species known to Florida, and you’ll also experience the awe-inspiring, undeveloped area of Florida, just a short drive from the attractions. In addition to the airboat tours, we have a unique Wildlife Park that allows you to interact with some interesting characters including alligators, lemurs, and buffalo. Come visit Wild Florida today!