Corvias

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Florida Wildlife - Endangered and nuisance animals

Florida has a unique and diverse ecosystem with each species playing an important role. Certain populations within this ecosystem are listed by the federal or state government as threatened or endangered. Below we have listed the threatened or endangered animals you may encounter as residents of Florida.

Amphibians | Birds | Mammals | Reptiles | Nuisance Wildlife

The endangered and threatened species are protected by state or federal law. While these animals are important you should also be aware of local nuisance animals, which may cause damage to your property or harm to yourself, family or pets. Information about nuisance animals can be found here.

Amphibians

Florida Bog Frog (State Species of Special Concern)

The Florida Bog Frog is found in Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties. This small, rare amphibian has a yellowish-brown upper body, yellow belly and grows to 1.9 inches long. Additional information on the Florida Bog Frog can be found here.

Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander (Federally-designated Endangered)

The Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander has a silvery-gray or black body with white stripes and can grow to 5.2 inches long. These salamanders also have a small head and black belly. Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders are found in the Florida panhandle west of the Apalachicola River. More information about this endangered species can be found here.

Gopher Frog (State Species of Special Concern)

Gopher frogs are found throughout most of Florida. They have cream or brown colored bodies with irregular dark spots on their sides and backs and range from 2 to 4 inches long. The gopher frog is nocturnal. More information about the Gopher Frog is available here.

Pine Barrens Treefrog (State Species of Special Concern)

This vibrant frog, found in the Florida Panhandle, has toepads to climb trees. Although Pines Barrens Treefrogs are pea-colored, their color changes to dark-olive-green when under stress. They have a brown band that reached from their noise to their legs. Additional information about the Pine Barrens Treefrog can be found here.

Birds

Least Tern (State-designated Threatened)

The Least Tern can be identified by their black cap, white belly, gray back and deeply forked tail. These birds are extremely susceptible to nest disturbance and will mob predators. Least Terns are found along all of Florida's coastlines. Additional information about Least Terns can be found here.

Piping Plover (Federally-designated Threatened)

Piping Plovers do not breed in Florida but spend a large portion of the year on the panhandle and southern beaches. These small shorebirds have bright yellow/orange legs and bills, white bellies and pale gray backs. Adult Piping Plovers have a black stripe across their forehead and round their neck. More on this protected species can be found here.

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (Federally-designated Endangered)

Slightly larger than a bluebird, the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker has a white face and belly and black head and neck. Their bodies are barred with black and white. These woodpeckers have an advanced social system live in longleaf pine forests across Florida. Additional information about this endangered species can be found here.

Snowy Plover (State-designated Threatened)

The Snowy Plover is found in counties along Florida's western coast. They are small shorebirds identifiable by their short, thin black bill and gray legs. Their upper body varies from gray to light-brown. All Snowy Plovers have a white belly and black foreheads and ears. More information about these birds is available here.

Wood Stork (Federally-designated Endangered)

The Wood Stork is the largest wading bird native to America. This tall and long-legged bird is white with black flight feathers and notable for its dark, featherless head. The Wood Stork is found mostly on the peninsula of Florida and around the Apalachicola River. It is rarely observed in the Western Panhandle. More information about this endangered species can be found here.

Mammals

West Indian Manatee (Federally-designated Endangered)

Also known as Florida Manatees, these mammals are found along coasts and inland waters across the state of Florida, but very rarely found in the water of the western panhandle. Manatees feed in shallow waters increasing their likelihood of interactions with boats, their main threat. Growing between 9 and 13 feet, and weighing between 1,000 and 3,500 pounds, manatees are gray. More information about this endangered species is available here.

Reptiles

Alligator Snapping Turtle (State Species of Special Concern)

This species is the largest fresh water turtle in North America. Identifiable by their spiny shell, Alligator snapping turtles have a long tail, triangle shaped head and curved beak. There is a difference in size between the male and female turtles. Males grow to 30 inches in length and up to 250 pounds, but females grow to 22 inches and only around 60 pounds. Read more about the Alligator Snapping Turtle here.

American Alligator (Federally-designated Threatened species due to similarity of appearance)

Growing between 13 and 14.7 feet and up to 1,000 pounds the American Alligator is found all across the state of Florida. These reptiles are most active when the temperature is between 82 and 92 degrees. American Alligators are black with a light yellow throat and belly. These reptiles are threatened due to their similar appearance to American Crocodiles. Additional information about the American Alligator is available here.

Barbour's Map Turtle (State Species of Special Concern)

This is the largest species of map turtle. Barbour's Map Turtles grow between 6 and 11 inches and have an oval shell with two to four spikes along the center. Their shell along with black-and-green striped skin makes these turtles easy to identify. In Florida these turtles are found in the fresh waters of the panhandle. Additional information about Barbour's Map Turtle can be found here.

Eastern Indigo Snake (Federally-designated Threatened)

This nonvenomous snake is found across Florida. The Eastern Indigo Snake can grow up to 8 feet in length. These snakes are a shiny black/blue color. Most have a red chin, cheeks and throat, but some lack the reddish color and have white, brown or black features. Read more about the Eastern Indigo Snake here.

Florida Pine Snake (State Species of Special Concern)

One of the largest snakes in North America, the Florida Pine Snake is found across most of Florida. These snakes grow to 7 feet has a brown back with dark blotches, white belly and small pointed head. Click here to read more about this snake.

Gopher Tortoise (State-designated Threatened)

The Gopher Tortoise is a terrestrial turtle growing between 9 and 11 inches. These tortoises have stumpy hind legs, shovel-like forelimbs and an oblong shell that is tan, brown or gray. Gopher Tortoises are found across northern and central Florida and are the only species of tortoise that lives east of the Mississippi River. Additional information about the Gopher Tortoise is available here.

Green Sea Turtle (Federally-designated Endangered)

Green Sea Turtles live in all the waters off the coast of Florida. These turtles nest along the eastern coast, half-way up the western coast and along the panhandle coast. Green Sea Turtles grow to 3.2 feet and up to 400 pounds. These turtles have a black shell and green body. To read more about this endangered species click here.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Federally-designated Endangered)

These turtles are found in all the waters off the coast of Florida, but nest on the central coasts of the peninsula, the southeast coast and the keys. These are the rarest sea turtles that regularly occur in Florida. Hawksbill Sea Turtles grow up to 35 inches and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. They are identifiable by their beak-like mouth and shield-shaped yellow, brown and black shell. Click here to read more.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle (Federally-designated Endangered)

This is the smallest and most endangered species of sea turtle in the world. Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles have only nine nesting beaches on the Florida coast. They grow between 2 to 2.5 feet and weigh between 85 and 100 pounds. It has an olive-gray circular shell and large head with a beak. Additional information about this endangered species is available here.

Leatherback Sea Turtle (Federally-designated Endangered)

Although these turtles are found in all the coastal waters of Florida, they only nest on the east coast of the peninsula and along the panhandle. Leatherback Sea Turtles are black with blue, pink and white splotches on their body. These turtles are notable for their shell, which is comprised of a thick layer of fatty tissue and a mosaic of tiny bones that is covered with a layer of skin. The largest turtle in the world, they average 6 feet in length and range between 500 and 1,500 pounds. Click here to read more.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Federally-designated Threatened)

Loggerhead Sea Turtles are grow between 2.4 and 3.5 feet and weigh between 155 and 415 pounds. These turtles have a reddish-brown shell and yellow belly. Loggerheads have powerful jaws used to crush crab and mollusk shells. These turtles are found in all the coast waters of Florida and nest on along almost all the coastline, except for a section on the northwest side of the peninsula. Additional information about these turtles is available here.

Nuisance Wildlife

Nuisance Wildlife is defined as one of the following:

  • Causes, or is about to cause, property damage,
  • Presents a threat to public safety
  • Causes an annoyance within, under or upon a building.

Any animal may become a nuisance if any one of the above criteria is met. Some of the most common nuisance animals are listed below. If you encounter any of these animals or signs of these animals please contact your community office. Corvias Military Living works with Eglin's Natural Resource Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to determine the appropriate relocation or removal of nuisance animals, if any.

The key to resolving most nuisance wildlife issues is to secure attractants that initially bring animals into neighborhoods. Wildlife that finds a free and easy meal in the form of garbage cans, bird feeders, pet food, or uncleaned grills will continue to return as long as food is available.

Armadillos

These odd-looking mammals are about the size of a cat. Most active at night, these creatures have poor eyesight. Armadillos are diggers and can damage lawns and flowerbeds in their search for grubs, a primary food source. To reduce armadillos in your yard, keep watering and fertilization to a minimum. More information can be found here.

Beavers

Because they are mostly nocturnal, you are more likely to see signs of beaver activity than an actual beaver. These aquatic mammals build dams that may block drainage systems causing flooding of roads. Common signs of beaver activity include tree or shrubbery stumps or branches chewed to a point, or dams. More information can be found here.

Bats

Helping to control insect populations, bats are highly beneficial to the ecosystem. All bats in Florida are protected, and it is illegal to kill or intentionally harm a bat. Habitat disturbance and loss sometimes leads to bats roosting in buildings and other man-made structures. Usually, these roosts are maternity colonies occupied by female bats and their offspring. Attic spaces make great roost locations because they are warm and free from disturbances, making them ideal for raising young. Maternity season for bats begins April 15th each year and ends August 15th. During this time, it is illegal to exclude bats from structures because doing so causes the death of baby bats, or pups. If you think a roost is forming in your attic, it is important that you contact someone right away so that remedial action can be taken before the start of maternity season.

These flying mammals are of little threat to people, however people should not handle sick, injured or dead bats. If you are experiencing nuisance issues with bats, please contact us immediately. More information can be found here.

Black Bears

Bears will learn to associate people with food if they have access to pet foods, bird feeders, garbage or barbecue grills. Bears will overcome their innate shyness to access food. Once a bear finds a food source, they will continue to forage in that area until the source is secured. The most common attractant of bears in residential areas is garbage. Remember to use your locking trashcan, feed your pets indoors and do not feed the bears. Please keep in mind that bears are wild animals and should not be approached. Additional information about bears is available here. Click here to read frequently asked questions about bears.

Brown AnoleInvasive species, yes. Nuisance, no.

This invasive species of lizard is native to Cuba and the Bahamas. Brown Anoles were imported into the state as pets, but are now found in the wild across Florida. Brown Anoles have displaced the native Green Anole because they out-compete them for food. These lizards can be spotted running on the ground or in low tree branches, while Green Anoles typically live higher in trees after being displaced. More information can be found here.

Cane ToadInvasive species, yes. Nuisance, no.

The Cane Toad, also called Giant Toad, is a highly invasive species from South and Central America. Cane Toads are poisonous and can kill pets, or make them ill. If handled by humans, burning of the eyes or skin irritation may occur as a result of the toad's skin secretions. These toads are identifiable by their size, growing larger than 3 inches, and by their stout bodies. More information can be found here.

Cuban TreefrogInvasive species, yes. Nuisance, no.

An invasive species, Cuban tree frogs prey upon smaller, native tree frogs. Cuban Treefrogs secrete mucus from their skin that can burn your eyes and cause an allergy-like reaction, pets can also be affected. This species is distinguishable from native tree frogs by their warty skin. Native species may be bumpy, but not warty in appearance. More information can be found here.

Coyote

Not typically a threat to human safety, some coyotes will prey upon free-roaming domestic dogs and cats. These solitary hunters are common across the Florida panhandle and the Eglin reservation; they have been sighted throughout Florida. Coyotes are active day and night, but most active at sunset and sunrise. Coyotes are opportunistic foragers, and will eat anything. Do not leave small pets, pet food, or garbage unsecured. Coyotes can also be attracted by bird feeders because seed that spills to the ground attracts mice, voles and rabbits, which are the coyote's preferred prey. Florida law prohibits the intentional feeding of coyotes. Additional information about coyotes is available here. Click here to read frequently asked questions about coyotes.

Deer

White-Tailed Deer may cause some damage to plants, feeding on leaves, flowers, fruits and shrubs. Deer are most active between dusk and dawn and rest during the day. This species of deer is found throughout Florida. More information can be found here.

Foxes

Florida is home to both Red Foxes and Gray Foxes. Gray Foxes often have a lot of red fur and may be mistaken for the Red Fox. The Gray Fox prefers to live in wooded areas while the Red Fox lives in uplands and weedy meadows, but both species will take advantage of denning opportunities provided by sheds and other outbuildings Foxes are primarily nocturnal but foxes active in the day time are usually seen in summer months, at which time they are raising and feeding young kits. More mouths to feed means more hours required for hunting! Foxes with kits in the area are also less likely to scare away easily, but this behavior does not necessarily indicate a threat. Sick foxes are identifiable by behavior such as walking in circles or swaying with their head hung very low. If this behavior is observed, residents should contact Corvias/FWC/Animal Control immediately. Regardless of behavior, foxes should never be approached, and it is illegal to feed them. More information can be found here.

Hawks

During nesting season hawks may dive at people in urban and suburban areas. Hawks will do this to protect their nest with birds or chicks. In most cases these birds will not make contact, but some injures are reported each year. There is the possibility of raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons and owls) preying upon pets. Cats and small dogs should be supervised when outside. Click here to read more about dealing with aggressive raptors.

Raccoons

Nature's bandit, raccoons become a nuisance when they find a food source near homes or buildings. Wild raccoons which are fed, or find a food source near humans, will lose their fear and move close to the new source. Raccoons often live in attics or outbuildings. These animals are also subject to rabies outbreaks and should only be handled by trained personnel. Florida law prohibits the feeding of raccoons, and they should never be approached for any reason. More information can be found here.

Hogs

Wild hogs are opportunistic omnivores that will eat just about anything, although they feed mostly on vegetative and insect matter. Food is a driving force for this exotic invasive species. Hogs can be very destructive and cause damage to fences and other structures by rubbing on them or knocking them down. They also have the ability to destroy lawns, small gardens, crops, trails, etc. by trampling and rooting around an area in search of food. Like most wildlife, wild hogs prefer to run and escape or avoid danger. However, if they are cornered, injured, or with young, they can become aggressive, moving very quickly and potentially causing serious injury. More information can be found here.

Opossums

On average, opossums are approximately the size of a house cat. These critters are found naturally in the southeast but can be very much a nuisance since they are attracted to practically any type of available food — including pet food and garbage. To reduce attraction of opossums to your home, remember to secure attractants (i.e. bring pet food in at night and use your locking trash can correctly). On occasion, opossums will sometimes take up residence under houses. If this happens, place mothballs or an ammonia soaked rag under your house to drive them away. More information can be found here.