Florida plays host to a wide range of cuddly animals, amazing insects and stunning birds,
many of which have be seen from our very own pool deck!
The following page is dedicated to some of the wildlife that has or could be found around our home. Some are classed as vermin, others may sting and yes, some are poisonous but as long as you don't go poking, cornering or attempt to catch them, they will not only leave you well alone but in most cases will try and vacate your area. If you do get bitten then please seek medical advice.
Armadillos are primarily nocturnal, although they may emerge during the day in cooler weather.

Most of their time is spent sleeping in their burrows. The time they do spend above ground is spent rooting and sniffing around for earthworms and grubs to dig up and eat using use their long tongue, like an anteater, to lick up any food they find.

Most armadillos grow to about 14 pounds and don't bite as they only have teeny mouths with small peglike teeth. We have a local resident (pictured) that lives in a burrow underneath our neighbour's in ground spa.
Raccoons are very capable and highly adaptable animals that are primarily nocturnal foragers. They are not picky eaters and will seek out food almost anywhere. They are very clever at obtaining it often seen searching through garbage cans and dumpsters, stealing pet food, bird food and have even been known to clear out goldfish ponds.

Most adult raccoons weigh between 12-20 pounds and walk on all fours with a highly arched back, yes, just like in the cartoons. They have adapted well to urban areas, with some even having lost their fear of people, sometimes standing their ground when approached. They are often seen coming out of the clearing to the back of our home and regularly walk along side the pool screen.
The Possum is the only marsupial found in Florida where the females have a pouch for their young (like a kangaroo). They are very adaptable and due to their eating habits they can live in a variety of habitats but being arboreal they make their nests by packing leaves into tree hollows.

Possums are nocturnal animals that grow up to be around 2-3 feet long and 8-14 pounds (about the size of a house cat) and have small naked ears, long naked and scaly tails and a long pointed muzzle They are omnivorous preferring meat to vegetables but will eat almost anything, including insects, snails, fruit, small rodents, eggs, berries, grasses, leaves, carrion, pet food, and garbage.
Eastern Gray Squirrel.
Eastern Gray Squirrels usually live to about five years old and around 17 to 20 inches long. They have a grayish-brown fur with a pale belly and silvery-tipped tail. They usually live in Forests but will basically live the year-round, anywhere there are large, deciduous trees. Their nests are often old woodpecker holes or nests built out of leaves usually high up in tree crotches.

Squirrels are very active, especially in the morning and evening and are constantly moving during these times looking for food. They have excellent balance, rarely falling from trees and hurting themselves, they are also amazing swimmers.

The Eastern Gray Squirrels diet is varied and things such as acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, apples, beechnuts, fungi, black cherry, grapes, insects, bird eggs and will also visit birdfeeders, dig up flower bulbs, and steal garden vegetables.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Sand Crane.
Sandhill Cranes are tall, graceful, long-lived birds known for their courtship dances and loud, bugling calls. They are omnivorous and are usually found in marshes, pastures, lawns, and golf courses.

These are a sensitive birds that doesn't adjust well to changed environments are usually seen in small family groups or pairs and can live up to 20 years.

Sandhill cranes are omnivorous, eating a variety of plant and animal matter such as seeds, plant tubers, grains, berries, insects, earthworms, mice, snakes, lizards, frogs and crayfish but unlike other wading birds, sandhill cranes don't fish.
Sand Crane
Red Shouldered Hawk.
The Red Shouldered Hawk is one of Florida's most distinctively marked common hawks. It is a medium to large sized hawk that measures between 15 to 19 inches in length with a wingspan of 3 to 3 feet. It has a barred reddish-peachy under part and a strongly banded tail with translucent crescents near the wingtips that help to identify it at a distance.

Red-shouldered hawks soar and circle with wings and tail spread out, and are often seen gliding underneath the forests canopy. However, unlike most hawks, the Red-shouldered Hawk hunts from a low-lying perch. This very fast and efficient bird of prey will sit quietly waiting for their prey to wander into their line of sight. Once spotted, the prey doesn't have a chance.

These forest hawks hunt a variety of prey including small mammals, birds, frogs, snakes, lizards, snails and insects.
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Cardinal.
The cardinal is one of the most popular and beloved birds. The male is a bright red bird with a pointed crest on the top of his head whilst the female is mostly buff brown in color with some red on her head, wings, and tail but both have small black masks on their faces that surround the bill and eyes.

You may see a male picking up a seed, hop over to a female and watch them touch beaks as she takes the food, this is referred to as mate feeding.

Mate feeding continues through the egg-laying and incubation phases of breeding. The female will build the nest whilst the male keeps a close eye on her and the surrounding area for predators and other males.
Red Cardinal
Turkey Vulture.
The Turkey Vulture is the most common vulture in the Americas and got the name because it's thought that the adult's bald red head resemble that of a male Wild Turkey.

Seldom does this graceful and talented bird flap its wings as it takes advantage of rising thermals to keep it soaring over large areas searching for carrion or other scavengers at work. Unlike most other birds the Turkey Vulture uses its sense of smell as well as its eyesight to locate dead animals. It will often fly low to the ground to pick up the scent of decaying animals even finding them below a forest canopy.

The average adult bird weighs in at around 3 1/2 - 5 pounds, averages 2 foot long with a 6 foot wingspan and lives for around 16 years.
Turkey Vulture
Mallard Duck.
Mallards normally winter in Florida in small widely scattered flocks. Mallards prefer calm, shallow sanctuaries, but can be found in almost any body of freshwater and are commonly found in wetlands.

Mallards rarely dive so are often be seen completely upending in the water spending their time near the surface and dabbling for fish, amphibians, and a variety of plants. They also graze on land, feeding on grains, plants and whatever bread you have handy.

The average adult bird weighs in at around 3 pounds, averages 26 inches in length and live for up to 10 years.
Mallard Duck
Box Turtles.
The Box Turtle is a land turtle that spends most of its time wandering through woods, fields, and gardens. It will occasionally soak itself in water and is often seen crossing roadways after it's been raining.

Box turtles have a highly domed upper shell with a bottom shell that's hinged so the shell can be completely shut to keep out predators. These characteristics contribute to this turtle's descriptive name. They reach maturity at 5 but continue growing for a further 20 years and have been known to live past 100 years.

The Box Turtle is omnivorous having a varied diet such as snails, insects, berries, fungi, slugs, worms, roots, flowers, fish, frogs, salamanders, snakes, birds, and eggs.
Box Turtles
Florida Snapping Turtle.
The Florida Snapping Turtle is found in ponds and lakes with muddy bottoms and lots of vegetation. It can be recognized by the three saw-toothed ridges running lengthwise down the top of its tail and a small growth on the front of their tongues that resembles a wriggling worm that it uses to lure fish in to investigate.

This is an aggressive predator, eating nearly anything that they can get their jaws around. Snappers are generally inoffensive when underwater, but when approached on land they will repeatedly try to bite. Their necks are quite long and they can snap and bite like lightning and even small snappers can inflict a painful wound with its hooked beak.

Snapping turtles can grow up to 18 inches long (excluding the tail) and 35 pounds in weight and can live for around 30 years.
Florida Snapping Turtle
Leapin' Lizards! - The Green Anole.
The green anole is by far the most common anole in the state of Florida and are often referred to as chameleons due to their ability to change skin color from green to gray to brown, depending on the environment and their mood.

Green Anoles generally live in trees but can be found almost anywhere within suburban and urban areas. They are active by day in the warm weather and are often seen basking in vegetation, occasionally charging away rival anoles from their basking spot or to grab and inset. During the cooler weather anoles are often found hiding under tree bark, shingles, or in rotten logs.

Green Anoles eat a wide variety of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates are 5 to 8 inches long and lives for around 4 years.
Leapin' Lizards!
Southern Black Racer.
Adult Racers average between 2-4 feet in length whist the young are about 15 inches long.

Racers prefer dry open fields, meadows and forest clearings and are active in the daylight hours. They are relatively easy to spot in the field as they often forage with their head and neck raised above their body. They often bask in the sun in low lying brush but can quickly disappear from view when disturbed. Racers are the only species that will occasionally charge at a person, this behavior is a bluff and the racer will retreat if challenged.

Racers eat a variety of rodents, insects, amphibians, other reptiles, birds, and bird eggs but despite their being classified as a constrictor, the Racer is more likely to suffocate or crush its victim into the ground rather than coiling around it in typical constrictor fashion.
Southern Black Racer
Rat Snake.
Rat snakes may grow to over 6 feet long but are typically 3-5 feet.

The Yellow rat snake is either a greenish, yellow, or an orange with four dark stripes running the length of the body. It's a powerful constrictor and is the best tree climber of all the Florida snakes.

The Gray rat snake is dark to light gray with darker gray or brown blotches and is found mostly in wooded areas around swamps. Juveniles of all subspecies resemble the gray rat snake.

Rat snakes are among the most valuable snakes found in Florida because of their skill in killing rats and mice.
Rat Snake
Stick Insect.
As its name suggests, the stick insect resembles the twigs from which it lives, providing it with one of the most efficient natural camouflages on Earth.

Stick Insects will generally mimic the colour of their surroundings being normally green or brown, although some species can be brilliantly colored whilst others are conspicuously striped.

Many stick insects have wings, some spectacularly beautiful, while others resemble little more than a stump.

Lifespan of around 3 years.
Stick Insect
The warm climate in Florida means that butterflies are often in flight the year round.

From the Giant Swallowtail to the Little Metalmark, the state has a wealth of flittering, fluttering, flappers, and gliders brightening the landscape.

Over 180 different butterflies have been recorded in Florida with 40 of those considered as being either unique to the state or occurring mostly within its boundaries.
Fire Flies or lightening bugs.
Fireflies or "Lightning Bugs" are known for the lighting effects that can be seen clearest at night in darker areas.

The light source these beetles emit comes from the abdomen area and happens when the beetle inhales oxygen. The oxygen then combines with a substance called luciferin in the abdomen with the reaction causing the flash.

The lights flash on and off for certain amounts of time determined by the sex of the firefly. The male emits a double flash every one to two meters and fly upward during the second flash, the female only emits a single flash between one and two seconds after the male finishes its second flash.
Fire Flies or lightening bugs
Mud Daubers.
The female Mud Dauber constructs a clump of mud-cells. Once completed she will then capture about 20 spiders, paralyzing each with her sting as she catches it. The spider is then stored in one of the cells which she lays an egg inside of and then caps the cell with clay. This is repeated until she has built a nest containing 6 to 20 cells.

Once a nest is finished, she leaves it and never returns moving on to build more nests in other locations. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the paralyzed spiders.

The complete development of the Mud Dauber takes place within the cell and in the spring the young adults come out of their nests and mate.
Mud Daubers
Lovebugs are small black flies with red thoraxes and are also known as March flies emerge to mate every March and September in their droves.

Whilst the Adult Love Bugs are harmless as the do not sting or bite, but they will take the paint off of a car if not quickly removed due to their slightly acidic body chemistry.

First, a mating swarm of males takes to the air followed by mating females and are quickly grasped by partners and whisked off to a more romantic setting in the vegetation. After mating, the pair remains entwined, and together they head off on a honeymoon of sorts, feeding on nectar and choosing a site to deposit the fertilized eggs.
Fire Ants.
There are 2 species of Fire Ants found in Florida the most common being the imported Red Fire Ant. This small reddish brown ant comes from South America and thrives on sunshine and dug-up soil. They are one of the most aggressive ants found in the US.

When an ant mound is disturbed, workers boil to the surface and run up any nearby legs or arms, they then grab the victim's skin in their mandibles and sting in response to the slightest movement. These attacks are coordinated and dozens or even hundreds of workers can sting in unison.

Approximately 95% of the venom from a Fire Ant sting is composed of alkaloids that are responsible for the pain and the white pustule that appears around a day after the sting occurred.
Fire Ants
Carpenter Ants.
Carpenter Ants are the largest ant found in the ant family ranging from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch in size. They are either a reddish-black or brownish black in colour and have a constricted waist and bent antennae. They feed on sources of protein and sugar.

Outdoors, carpenter ants feed on both living and dead insects and are very attracted to honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by aphids and scale insects that feed on trees, shrubs, and other plants. Indoors the carpenter ant feeds on meats, as well as syrup, honey, sugar, jelly, and other sweets.
Carpenter Ants
Dragon Fly.
There are six families of dragonflies found in Florida and one of the most easily recognized insects of all.

Providing an excellent service to humans is the Common Green Darner which is commonly known as "mosquito hawks" as they eat mosquitoes. Luckily for us, the Common Green Darner is the largest, most abundant and widespread dragonfly species in North America and they are commonly found around ponds, open bodies of fresh water and large blacktop parking lots.

When fully grown, Green Darners are around 3 inches long with a wingspan of 4.5 inches.
Dragon Fly
There are at least 69 different species of cockroach found in the US but the three main species found in Florida are the American Roach, the Australian Roach and the Brown Roach. Although the American Roach is the largest of these, all three pests are extremely similar in appearance.

Outside, cockroaches are decomposers that feed on dead or dying plants and animals. However, when they interact with people they are considered pests, invading lawns and gardens or entering homes and other structures.

Whilst pest management is used it isn't infallible, further prevention methods include keeping the home free of food crumbs and storing perishables in sealed containers.
Brown Widow Spider.
The Brown Widow Spider is typically a light to medium brown colour with an orange hourglass marking on the underside of its abdomen. The leg segments are banded, with one half of each segment lighter in colour than the other and the back will have a row of white spots with a few white stripes on each side.

Darker individuals lack some of these markings so resemble black widows. In this case the best identifying characteristic is their egg-sac. The Brown widow egg-sacs are tan and spherical, with many small tufts of silk sticking out from them (like an old World War II harbor mine). The other widows make white, smooth egg sacs that tend to be pear-shaped.

Although the bite of a widow spider is much feared, the widow spiders are generally non-aggressive and will retreat when disturbed.
Brown Widow Spider
The Regal Jumping Spider.
Regal jumping spiders are native to Florida and the most common.

Males are black in colour with white fringes and range in size from 6mm to 12mm in length whilst the females have similar colour patterns except for black rear areas of their bodies covered in orange scales and range from 7mm to 22mm in length. Both have excellent vision.

Some observers manage to confuse jumping spiders with the poisonous black widow spider because of their similar colouring. You can tell the two spiders apart by noting that the black widows are shiny spiders that do not have hairy legs. Bites are much like a bee sting.

Once this spider realizes you don't intend to hurt it you can actually (with a lot of patience) hand feed them dead insects.
The Regal Jumping Spider
Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider.
The spiny orb-weaver spider is one of the most colourful and easily recognized spiders in Florida. They are one of the many beneficial spiders found in Florida and they are not considered dangerous.

The dorsum of the abdomen is usually white with black spots and large red spines on the margin. The webs are the familiar flat, ornate, circular ones usually associated with spiders and typically contain tufts of silk, which may prevent birds from flying into them.

Females are 5 mm to 10 mm long and 10 mm to 14 mm wide and die after laying her eggs, the males die around 6 days after mating.

The famous spider from Charlotte's Web is a barn orb-weaver spider.
Spiny Orb-Weaver Spider
Golden Silk Spider.
The golden silk spider, otherwise known as the banana spider, is a large orange and brown spider with feathery tufts on its legs.

The female is distinctively colored, and is among the largest orb-weaving spiders in the country at 25 mm to 40 mm long. Males are only about 4-6 mm long are dark-brown in colour and are often found in the webs of females.

These spiders feed primarily on flying insects, which they catch in webs that can be more than a meter in diameter.

There is little real danger from the spider as it will only bite if it's held or pinched. The bite itself will only produce localized pain with a slight redness, which quickly goes away.
Golden Silk Spider
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