Category Archive: Airboat Rides Orlando

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.

FIU Students Start Writing Expedition About Everglades

Recently, five writing students from Florida International University (FIU) have been selected to take part in a six-week Everglades wilderness expedition this fall.  This expedition is designed to inspire writers to curate content about their experiences in one of Florida’s natural geographical wonders. The writers from FIU will join other writers from another Miami-area university on the official Everglades Wilderness Writing Expedition.  The end-goal of the program is to get students to engage with the exploration of wilderness, self-discovery and environmental writing.

The program begins in October and the participants will embark on three, all-day trips exploring different aspects of the South Florida wetlands including prairies, marshes, and other areas on the UNESCO World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, according to Sabrina Diaz, the leader of the expedition and national park ranger.  In additional to those three, day-long treks, they will also take a four-day canoe camping trek along the Wilderness Waterway.

The selection of the students came from a selection of applications and corresponding writing samples that speak to their physical fitness and career goals.  This is an opportunity for each and every student to capture their experience in the Everglades and later have their writing featured in local newspapers and social media.
We are passionate about the Everglades and maintaining the natural Florida that we know and love.  If you want to experience the natural Florida that we know, come by and sign up for an Orlando airboat ride with your family.  We have night and private airboat rides available as well.  Visit the Buy Tickets page on our website to reserve your tickets today.

Contender Profile: Nile Monitor Lizard

He’s been slinking beneath your Orlando airboat and sliding through the gator pits; introducing, fighting in the blue corner: Nile “Not-A-Crocodile” Monitor. This adaptive creature is capable of skulking through a variety of diverse habitats. They can run up to 18 miles per hour across packed earth or swim swiftly underwater for up to an hour. Their arsenal of weapons includes sharp, snake-like teeth, a long muscular tail used as a whip, sinister claws for slashing, a seriously bad temper, and an aggressive determination.

In preparation for the upcoming Fauna Face-Off, we’re going to take a closer look at one of the first contenders: the Nile Monitor lizard (Varanus niloticus). This invasive contender is the longest lizard in Africa. It was first spotted in the Cape Coral area in the early 90s. This predator poses a serious threat to local water birds and any other mammals, reptiles, and amphibians that it can fit into its powerful jaws. To make matters worse, these creatures have even been seen hunting in packs.

These large, prolific carnivores are intelligent and determined hunters. They reach up to 5 feet in length, some even surpassing 8 feet, and can weigh up to 30 pounds. In their native Africa, they’re often seen along desert fringes, grasslands, rainforests, human inhabited areas, and areas in close vicinity of rivers, swamps, ponds, seashores, and lakes. The most plentiful and attractive area for an African Nile Monitor roaming Florida would be the mangrove swamps, salt water marshes, and river banks of the Everglades.

The Nile Monitor is the second most common African monitor species sold in the United States. That’s how this species came to Cape Coral and the Everglades areas. Reptile enthusiasts purchased them in the exotic pet trade and they either escaped or were intentionally released. Now, this fierce predator and scavenger is here to battle the native Everglades inhabitants for their territory, resources, and even their lives. The Nile Monitor is not a picky eater. Its stomach has been known to hold a variety of edible content, ranging from mammal hair and bird feathers, to alligator egg shells, and small reptile and amphibian bones. The creatures most at risk to this invasive species are lizards, snakes, freshwater and box turtles, ground-nesting birds, gopher tortoises, burrowing owls, wading birds, small mammals (like feral and domestic cat small), and the American alligator.

Because of the threat this monitor poses, the American alligator is taking control and challenging this invader to battle in the Fauna Face-Off. The alligator is tired of seeing its young and the young of its cousin, the American crocodile, snatched up by this Everglades invader. Tune in to the Wild Florida blogs this Friday for the first round of the Fauna Face-off: the American alligator vs. the Nile Monitor lizard. To get in the mood, take an Orlando airboatride at Wild Florida today. Who knows, you may see one of these resilient reptiles on your trip.


How to Liven Up an Event in One Easy Step

We understand the stress that comes along with planning an event. Whether it’s a birthday party, family reunion, school function, or a work outing, there’s always the worry that your guests won’t enjoy themselves. Well, leave all your qualms at home because we have an idea for you that is sure to liven up any event you may be hosting. It’s something that can entertain people of all ages, and adds excitement and bit of adventure to your typical event, day or night. What is it? It is a gator handler!

Wild Florida has gator handlers for hire, meaning you can hire a person to show up at your event with their little friend- an alligator. These trained professionals can come to your home, office, convention center, school, and pretty much anywhere else and provide a hands-on experience your guests will never forget. Your event will be the talk of the town! Guests will have the opportunity to touch, hold, and pet the alligator with assistance from the gator handler. Feel free to take photos posing with the alligator to ensure you’ll remember this exciting occasion. The professional gator handler will be there to keep everyone safe, keep the alligator under control, and to teach guests interesting facts about the animal.

Groups of all sizes are welcome. Wild Florida offers various packages to meet the needs of your particular group given the number of people, location, and special occasion. We can provide an amazing venue also in our Cypress Ballroom or covered deck overlooking the swamp. Whether it’s day or night, we will make sure your guests have the time of their life! An alligator and its handler will transform any ordinary party or gathering into an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience. For more information about how you can hire a gator handler at your next event, call Jordan Munns at 407-922-5395 or email him at   Also, book your Orlando airboat rides tickets directly on our website.

Introducing the American Alligator in Round One of the Fauna Face-Off

gator 300x158 Introducing the American Alligator in Round One of the Fauna Face OffIn this corner, we have the American Alligator, going up against the Nile Monitor Lizard in Week One of our Fauna Face-Off Fridays.  The American Alligator, which you can find on an Orlando airboat ride at Wild Florida, is often found in the Everglades in South Florida, along with other locations along the Southeastern United States in swamps, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes–mostly wetland habitats.  Weighing in at up to 1,000 pounds and measuring anywhere from 11 to 15 feet, the American alligator will turn out to be quite the contender.

Commonly known as apex predators, gators consume fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. During breeding season, you will often find alligators declaring their territory and locating suitable mates.  Male gators use infrasound to attract females.  Even though you may view gators as tough, scary creatures, their species has been decimated through hunting and other ecological factors, and they’ve been listed as an Endangered Species.

Gators have several dangerous qualities that make them a strong contender in the Fauna Face-Off.  For example, the alligator’s movement can be quite dangerous, as they can travel quickly on land and water.  Not only are they fast, but they’re smart, being able to use lures to hunt prey such as birds.  They are the first recorded reptiles to use tools.  Oftentimes, they will balance sticks and branches on their heads to lure birds searching for suitable nesting materials.  Gators can also perform specific vocalizations to threaten competitors and signal distress, which just adds to their long list of abilities, making them the Everglades’ top predator.
We want to wish our alligator representative, the American Insti-Gator, luck in this Friday’s face-off when he goes up against a worthy opponent, the Nile Monitor Lizard.  If you want to learn more about alligators, come experience one of our Orlando airboat rides at Wild Florida.  Visit our booking page to buy tickets today.

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