Florida is one of the hottest spots when it comes to vacation destinations. There is just so much to do here. But amidst all of that fun, we come into contact with wildlife we don't usually have encounters with. Here is a guide to some of those creatures.
In Florida, the Bobcat appears statewide. It makes its home in swamps and forests. it can be recognized by its triangular pointed shaped ears and bobbed tail. They are much bigger than the ordinary house cat,(twice the size) but much smaller lets say, for instance a panther. It feeds on small animals and birds. They usually hunt at night, and don't sleep much , about 2-3 hours a day. We saw r a mother and its cub running near us at a local park, and it was very scary how the mother kept her eyes on us. We left quickly. Though they.re not known to attack people, still keep your eyes open when out in nature, they are very stealthy.
If you go out to enjoy nature, also be on the lookout for fire ants. They are small red ants that have a very painful bite that could be itchy and cause swelling. The fire ant mound looks just like small piles of white sand. Sometimes they are so small you're not even aware you stepped in one till you feel the bites. If you do get bit, washing the affected area then applying ice helps. Beware, these things are everywhere. A fire ant mound is pictures below.
If going to the beach is on you.re agenda, then I should mention stingrays and jellyfish. Stingrays have flat brown bodies, a long tail that has a spine, venom and a barbed end. They can grow up to 7 feet in length. Stingray season runs from April to October. This is when they come into to warmer waters and bury themselves in the bottom sand to hide from predators. They are usually present 3-10 yards from shore. So what do Floridians do to avoid getting stung? We do the stingray shuffle, of course. Instead of just running and sloshing through the water, shuffle your feet instead. It sends vibrations through the sand that scares away the rays. If you do get stung go to the hospital immediately. Its venom can cause drop in blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness and shock. Do not remove the barb yourself, let a doctor do that!
Jellyfish are in all Florida marine waters. They are usually more on the Atlantic side and in the Panhandle. They can be up to 2 feet in diameter. they have a mushroom shaped cream colored or translucent bell with long thin tentacles. Florida has several species that do sting. The stings leave red streaky welts that last for up to 2 weeks and causes severe pain, nausea and headache. If stung remove the tentacle by scraping with a credit card. rinse with vinegar or apply a baking soda and saltwater paste. Then go home and take a hot shower then apply an ice pack If an allergic reaction happens, go to the hospital immediately. Oh, there is an old wives tale that says you should urinate on it. That makes matters worse.
Finaly, we should discuss alligators and crocodiles. We've all read about recent attacks involving these animals They mostly live in freshwater environments and brackish waters, but have been found in marine waters. Their mating season is from April to May. Never feed them or swim near them, especialy at dusk since thats their feeding time. When you feed them they become more aggressive because they no longer fear us. It is illegal to feed them in Florida. They can run fast, up to 9 mph, but not very far. The running zigzag myth is just that, a myth. They are also good at climbing and can climb a chain link fence. They can grow to be very large, 10-12 feet in length.Their choice for prey is usually based on size, so please keep children and pets away from waters edge.
Crocodiles are usually found in the north end of south Florida. They live in saltwater and brackish areas, but have been sighted in freshwater areas also. They can grow up to 18 feet long. Their snout is more narrow than the alligators. They will eat anything that moves. There are a lot more alligators than crocodiles, and crocodiles are considered endangered. Conflicts between them and humans rarely occur because they are shy creatures. Recently we have run across Nile crocodiles which are not native to this country and are much more aggressive.
So please n be aware when you're out and about, and use caution. Enjoy the outdoors and all that Florida has to offer.