Category Archive: Airboat Rides Orlando

Spend the Holidays with Wild Florida

The holidays are a special time of year for family, gifts and celebrating the things in your life that you’re so very grateful for.  At times, you could fall into the monotony of staying at home, and not getting out of the house as much as you should.  That’s where Wild Florida comes in.  With more than 4,200 acres of undeveloped land located just outside of Orlando, Florida, Wild Florida is the perfect destination to make memories with your family for the holidays.

First, you can schedule one of our many Orlando airboat rides for a unique and fun experience.  You can select a half-hour, hour, night, or private airboat tour through the headwaters of the Everglades at Wild Florida through our website.  Don’t forget to bring your camera to get some of the most unique and interesting wildlife located in their natural environments.  Safety is our number one priority, and we’re committed to the health, safety and well-being of our guests.  Our vessels are USCG approved and inspected annually.  There is a accident plan in place in case of any unexpected incidents, and we have appropriate emergency gear on board as well.

Are you more of a fan of staying on the ground instead of in the water?  Our Wildlife Park will be the perfect distraction with animals from all over the world available for you to learn and interact with.  We get new animals in all of the time, so if you happen to be a return visitor, make sure to check out what we have new.  If you want a more special, interactive experience, then our Keeper for a Day and Behind the Scenes Tour experience will be for you.

If you’re interested in going on an Orlando airboat ride, experiencing exotic wildlife, or just getting out of the hustle and bustle of Orlando, make sure to come out and visit us at Wild Florida.

 

Florida Wildlife Hospital Offers Unique Opportunity in Time for Holidays

Sue Small, the Executive Director of the Florida Wildlife Hospital, has announced an interesting new adoption program. People can adopt one or more of, what the Florida Wildlife Hospital calls, Educational Ambassadors. You can choose one of their five owls, an American Kestrel, a Gopher Tortoise, a Box Turtle or a Red Rat Snake. While you don’t actually get to take the animals home, you do receive a matte photo, an adoption certificate and a fact sheet about the particular species that you’ve chosen to adopt, along with an invitation to any public event where your adopted ambassador will be appearing.

With the upcoming holidays, adopting an Education Ambassador from the Florida Wildlife Hospital can make for a unique gift for those who have everything. If you want to spread awareness about the conservation of Florida wildlife or just support those who aim to protect Florida wildlife, this could also be an opportunity for you.

The Florida Wildlife Hospital is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to Florida’s wildlife in need.  Their mission is to aid injured, sick and orphaned native Florida wildlife and migratory birds and return them to their place in the natural ecosystem. They are open 365 days a year to admit wildlife patients, and they care for almost 5,000 wildlife patients a year! They are licensed by state and federal government agencies, but they receive no funding for them, so it’s important that they have active members and continue receiving donations from the public who are equally as passionate about Florida wildlife.
Here at Wild Florida, we care about Florida wildlife, and we love this adoption program that allows people to make a strong connection to the wildlife in our state. At Wild Florida, we have a wildlife park that features not only animals that are indigenous to Florida, but also animals from all over the world. Take one of our Orlando airboat rides and experience Florida wildlife in its natural environment. Browse through our website to learn more about Wild Florida.

The Amphibious Nature of the Everglades

Amphibians are amazing and unusual creatures. They go through an incredible metamorphosis as they age and their environmental versatility makes them extremely adaptable. Keep an eye out during your next Orlando airboat ride. These amazing animals aren’t as sought out or easy to spot as an alligator, but they definitely deserve a passing glance.

Often confused with reptiles, amphibians live on every continent except Antarctica. These creatures are cold blooded, meaning they require environmental elements to regulate their body temperature. Their reptilian cousins are also cold blooded, but where these two creatures really differ is in their skin. Reptiles are covered from head to toe (unless you’re a snake) in scales. Amphibians have smooth, moist skin. While this skin is a blessing in some ways, it is susceptible to drying out. To make sure their skin doesn’t dry out, amphibians stick to moist, humid, and wet environments. They can even secrete mucus through their skin to keep it moist. While these little facts may be cool, the coolest part of an amphibian, is its ability to breathe through its skin as well as its lungs.

Earlier in this post, we touched on the fact that amphibians go through a metamorphosis of sorts. Every amphibian begins its journey through life in an egg. These eggs have no protective shell; therefore, they are laid in water. Once the egg hatches, the amphibian navigates the shallow Everglades waterways as a tadpole. As they mature, they leave the water and begin their life on land.

There are a variety of amphibious creatures dwelling in the Everglades. They range from tree frogs, to toads, and salamanders. When you’re cruising through the Everglades on your next Orlando airboat ride, don’t neglect the little guys. Amphibians are just as exciting as the reptiles, birds, and mammals currently roaming the Everglades.

To learn more about the amphibians that dwell in the Everglades, or to take an Orlando airboat ride, visit Wild Florida today.

What’s your favorite amphibian? Try to find one in your backyard and take a picture of it. Share your pictures with us!

 

Mystery Surrounds the Death of Alligators in the Everglades

The Florida Everglades have always been home to alligators.  It has been their habitat where they have lived and thrived, but now, wildlife ecologists and other scientists are saying that the population of alligators is growing smaller.  In addition to the mysterious shrinking population, the gators they are finding in their study are smaller, weighing about 20% less than an alligator their size should typically weigh.

Frank Mazzotti, a wildlife ecologist with the University of Florida, has been studying the alligators of the Everglades through tracking and tagging for over 15 years, and he says the population of alligators is less than half of what you would expect in a healthy habitat.  “They’re skinnier, they’re fewer, they grow slower,” Mazzotti said. “Most other places, if an alligator is 10 years old it’s easily 6 feet long–not so in the Everglades. At 10 years [old], it’s only 4 or 5 feet.”

A team of scientists headed by Mazzotti from the University of Florida is now investigating this particular mystery and what could be behind the change that is occurring.  A federal government spokesperson, who is also researching the alligator mystery, says she is concerned with the declining health of the alligators.  “When they are not doing well, something has gone wrong with the ecosystem.” Estenoz said. “They are the canary in the coal mine.”

Wild Florida cares deeply for the ecological health the Everglades and other surrounding natural areas in Florida.  We provide Orlando airboat rides through the headwaters of the Everglades, in which you can experience alligators firsthand.  If wildlife is of particular interest to you, we also have a wildlife park on site so you can experience several different animals as well.  Purchase tickets to come by and experience natural Florida in all of its glory.

Are Everglades Alligators Declining in Health?

As we all know by now, alligators are among the most-recognizable animals of the Everglades. Native Floridians are undoubtedly accustomed to seeing these distinguished reptiles during Orlando airboat rides, on camping trips, and even occasionally just resting along the side of the road! Their trademark scaly plate armor and toothy pointed snouts have made them poster children for the River of Grass–and for Florida as a whole. However, ecologists who focus their attention on the region have noticed that the Everglades alligator population seems to be declining in numbers, and in overall health.

Wildlife ecologists from the University of Florida, led by Frank Mazotti, have discovered that a vast majority of the alligators currently populating the Everglades are startlingly malnourished. Whereas full-grown alligators tend to reach 6 feet in length or greater by the time they are ten years old, a large number of the gators in the Everglades are only reaching 4 or 5 feet at their peak growth. What’s more, many of the alligators that have been tagged and measured by the team weigh at least 20% less than they should on average. The gator population has been described as emaciated, skeletal in appearance and not much more than skin and bones.

What is it that’s leading the region’s trademark animal to grow and weigh much less than it should? The UF research team believes the main culprit is the drainage project that began in the region during the 1950s. A product of human expansion, this project redirected a large amount of Everglades water into the ocean to reveal more developable land for commercial and residential properties. As the water drains, it collects harmful chemicals from human waste, garbage, sewage, and fertilizer, depositing them in the soil it runs across. There are plans in place to help restore the Everglades ecosystem, but at the current moment, there is no telling when these plans will come to fruition–or whether they will provide the region with the restoration it needs to help revive the alligator population.

The health of the alligators is a distinctive mark as to the health of the Everglades as a whole. If you want to learn more about the beautiful, unique wildlife that calls the Everglades home, contact Wild Florida today and book your Orlando airboat ride. Call us at (866) 532-7167 or browse through our website to learn more.

 

Fauna Face-Off Friday #5: American Insti-Gator vs. Monty the Burmese Python

In this evening’s Fauna Face-Off event, the American Insti-Gator takes on Monty the Burmese Python. Environmentalists around the ring rejoice as this native Everglades favorite goes against this invasive reptile. Entering the ring with a fit of “boos”and reaching 23 feet long, weighing in at 200 lbs; in the blue corner, we have Monty the Burmese Python. In the opposing corner, hoping his home-field advantage will help him achieve victory, reaching 18 feet and weighing 600 lbs, we have the native Orlando alligator, the American Insti-Gator.

As the starting bell sounds, you can see a twinkle in the Insti-Gator’s eye. It looks like he’s hungry; after all, Monty and his non-native friends have been decreasing the native food supply, consuming mass quantities of raccoons, opossums, and even bobcats, ultimately throwing the ecosystem off balance.

Insti-Gator has moved within striking distance and Monty lets him have it with a powerful bite. Monty immediately recoils after the initial maneuver, as it seems he underestimated the strength of Insti-Gator’s armor. Monty goes in for another blow as Insti-Gator waits patiently with his mouth open, ready to strike at the opportune moment, but Monty can’t get a grip on the Insti-Gator’s tough hide. That will make constricting Insti-Gator more difficult since he can’t get a good grip.

The Orlando alligator seems pleased with Monty’s dilemma–but wait, Monty has gotten a decent grip on Insti-Gator. Now Insti-Gator is performing his bone-crushing move, the death roll, in an effort to shake himself free but it works to Monty’s advantage, only wrapping him tighter. Insti-Gator may be in trouble here, he’s completely wrapped up now and you can see that Monty is really squeezing. The Everglades favorite is in big trouble–but Monty’s bite slips, and in a split second Insti-Gator turns his head and delivers a 2,125 lb bite-force upon Monty’s head.

Monty’s biggest mistake was not securing Insti-Gator’s mouth–his most powerful weapon. Now, Insti-Gator is slurping Monty down like a piece of fettuccine. I guess we all know now that in the Everglades battle, the alligator reigns supreme over this invasive serpent.

To see these incredible creatures in the wild, contact Wild Florida for an Everglades airboat ride. For additional information on Orlando alligators, continue to browse through our blogs.

Do you agree with the victor of this Friday’s Fauna Face-Off? Share your comments with us below.

Contender Profile: Florida Panther

This week, we have the Florida Panther going up against the Black Bear in a battle of the brawn in one of the most anticipated battles of the year.  The Florida Panther will be a worthy contender even though their elusive nature and their endangered status makes them hard to spot in the Everglades region.  A subspecies of the cougar, the Florida Panther typically lives the forests and swamps of southern Florida, not unlike the type of swamps we take our Orlando airboat tours.

Gallant Panther, The Florida Advancer, the Florida Panther fighting for his place in the ring this week, weighs up to 160 pounds, and seeing as he is Florida’s state animal, he will have the crowd on his side.  While you won’t hear Gallant Panther roar (as Florida Panthers do not have the ability to roar), you will hear the many other sounds he has the ability to make such as whistles, chirps, growls, hisses and purrs.  In addition to his variety of sounds, his other defence mechanism happens to be his ability to climb.

The Florida Panther is known for being flexible in many different aspects of their lives, one particular aspect being their ability to adapt a hunting routine to their prey and their environment.  There are several threats to the Florida Panther’s existence, given its endangered nature, and those include:

  • Disease
  • Chemicals
  • Genetic Depletion
  • Vehicular Collisions

The one thing you will not find as a threat to the Florida Panther is the Black Bear.  So, what’s Gallant Panther’s message to Goldilocks’ Worst Nightmare: “You Are Going Down.”  Tune in on Friday to the blog at Wild Florida for a recap of the fight of Gallant Panther and Goldilocks’ Worse Nightmare to see who won.  In the meantime, browse around on the website and purchase tickets to our one-of-a-kind Orlando airboat tours!

Contender Profile: American Croc

The first of this week’s contender is the American Crocodile, which is weighing in at more than 2,000 lb. and measuring around 15 feet in length.  Contrary to its size, the American alligators typically do not attack large animals unlike the rest of its species.  Despite his normal behavior, ‘Merica the Killer Croc is definitely going to be a contender for this particular match-up against the Bull Shark on Friday.

Much like its cousin the alligator, the American Crocodile is a quadruped with four short, stocky legs and a long powerful tail.  Its nostrils, eyes and ears are located on the top of its head so that the rest of his body can hide underwater in the case of surprise attacks.  Typically, the Croc’s mouth is longer and narrower than the American alligator, which is used to snatch up its enemies with extremely strong jaws.

You can find the American Croc in South Florida, but you won’t find it much of anywhere else in the United States.  You will find it primarily in mangrove swamps, river mouths, fresh waters and salt lakes, which is why you will find this strong competitor in the Everglades region.  The reason for the southern exclusivity is because the American Croc is more susceptible to cold than American alligators, and that is why you won’t often find the Croc beyond its normal habitat of Southern Florida.

‘Merica the Killer Croc faces off against the Bulls-Eye Shark on Friday’s Fauna Faceoff, and as sponsors of this popular event, Wild Florida encourages you to read all about the highlights.  Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the wildlife in Florida, book and Orlando airboat ride with Wild Florida directly on our website.

Fauna Face-Off Friday #2: The Burmese Python Vs. The Fire Ant

Are you ready for the second fauna face-off?  Today, the Burmese Python takes on the Fire Ant, making it a battle of invasive species vs. invasive species.  Both of these gnarly animals can definitely do some damage, but it’s time to see who will reign supreme.  While the sizes of both of these contenders differ greatly, this will surely be a match-up of the ages.  Let’s begin to see who will win this deadly face-off.

The first bell rings, and while the majority of spectators have placed their cold-hard cash on Monty the Burmese Python due to sheer nature of his size compared to Ant-Thony Extinguisher the Fire Ant, I wouldn’t count Anthony out quite yet.  Monty starts to slither, circling Anthony, looking quite menacing.  Who’s going to strike first?  Anthony strikes first, biting Monty with his necrotizing venom, causing him to coil back in pain.  But, don’t count Monty out yet, that painful sting has seemingly made him even more angry.  Monty strikes forward and attempts to crush Anthony with his sheer size, but Anthony just manages to get away…barely.  Bell rings again, and folks, that’s the end of Round 1.

Each of these predatorial animals is waiting in his corner, waiting for the bell to signify that Round 2 has begun.  And, there it is, the bell for Round 2, and they’re off!  Wait, this is quite surprising, it looks as if Anthony has brought along some friends.  There are a slew of fire ants closing in on the ring, and Monty appears to be a bit spooked.  You see, the only way for Anthony to stand a chance in this particular match-up is to swarm Monty, and Monty can then be reduced to skin and bones.  Monty needs to act fast if he wants to win this match-up.  Monty uncoils and decides that he will need to surprise Anthony Extinguisher.  He dodges left.  He dodges right, and he strikes!  Anthony Extinguisher has been extinguished by his opponent before he could carry out his master plan!  This is quite surprising folks! Monty the Burmese Python has eaten Anthony Extinguisher.  It seems as if the hoards of fire ants coming in for the swarm are quickly retreating, as to not suffer the same fate.

Well, there you have it folks.  This match-up was short and exciting, which is how Anthony the Extinguisher will live on in our hearts–may he Rest in Peace.  Don’t forget to join us next week for the American Croc vs. the Bull Shark, and until then, be sure to go and visit our sponsor Wild Florida Airboats, and enjoy a nice long Orlando airboat ride and discover undeveloped, natural Florida.  Until next time!

Contender Profile: Monty the Burmese Python

Slinking in the competition, measuring in at 23 feet, weighing up to 200 pounds, with a girth as large as a telephone pole–in the blue corner, we have Monty the Burmese Python. The Burmese python, or Python molurus bivittatus, is native to Southeast Asia. Like the first round contender, the Nile Monitor lizard, they were brought to the States for the pet trade. Many animal enthusiasts see a cute, 20-inch baby python and decide to take it home. However, within a year, that baby could grow to be more than 5 feet long. Once these unsuspecting pet owners find that they’ve bitten off more than they could chew, they either release them or sell them to irresponsible owners; or if they can’t ensure the growing threat is containment, the snake follows the footsteps of Connery and Eastwood to perform an impossible escape, slithering its way down to the Everglades in search of a bountiful habitat. On an Orlando airboat guided tour you may bump into this unsavory character.

As a young hatchling, these snakes spend most of their time up in the trees, avoiding predators and feasting on small creatures. When their size and weight make tree-climbing more of a hassle than a necessity, they adapt to a ground-dwelling lifestyle. In the air, on the ground, and in the water? That’s right; the Burmese python is an excellent swimmer, capable of submerging itself for up to 30 minutes at a time.

A Burmese python preys on rodents, raccoons, rabbits, deer, bobcats, various birds, and they’ve even been seen consuming alligators. Not only are these non-native invaders disrupting the natural food chain, but their voracious appetite is thwarting conservation attempts for Everglades species like the Key Largo wood rat, American Wood Stork, and American Alligator.

When reproducing, the Burmese python lays a clutch of up to 100 eggs with the average clutch holding and hatching 35 eggs. Once the nest has been built and the eggs laid, female Burmese pythons coil around the clutch, remaining with the young until they hatch. Not only is the female incubating her eggs, but she’s also protecting them from thieves and scavengers.

This aggressive and powerful serpent is a hefty foe. They use their sheer strength to outmuscle opponents, constricting their blood- and air-flow. To hold their prey in place, they have a muscular jaw, filled with hundreds of back curving teeth. Even the largest and most aggressive animals can’t break loose of a Burmese python’s grasp. Burmese pythons have even been reported attacking their handlers, with some instances leading to human fatality. While they may have poor eyesight, their do have a chemical receptor in their tongue and a heat sensor along their jaw, making no animal safe from a prowling Burmese python.

While this contender may outweigh its opponent, don’t discount the fire ant just yet. The next Fauna Face-Off is sure to be a close battle, filled with maneuvers and counter maneuvers by both parties. For a fun-filled Orlando airboat guided tour visit Wild Florida today. If you keep an eye out, you may see the Burmese python slinking through the water or the trees.

Who do you think will win between the Burmese python and the Fire Ant in the upcoming Fauna Face-off? Weigh in on the discussion and tune in to the Wild Florida blog page this Friday for the results.

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