Wekiwa Springs Animals
Here at Wekiwa Springs lives a great variety of wildlife. The following are only some of the animals that inhabit this pristine and diverse ecosystem. Black bears, deer, foxes, a wide range of birds, insects and plants are to be found. Every trip to the park provides a new opportunity to discover life.
The American Alligator inhabits the southeastern United States. Their life spans can exceed 60 yrs. Alligators occur on the Atlantic Coast of North America from Florida through coastal North Carolina, and along the Gulf Coast into Texas. They eat fish, turtles, wading birds, snakes, frogs, small mammals and even smaller alligators.
The gray fox is one of Florida’s most commonly seen carnivores. They feed on small animals, acorns, fruit and insects, but they will also scavenge road-killed animals. They are active at night and usually hunt alone. Gray Foxes are abundant in hardwood forests, pine-oak woodlands and brushy fields.
Sherman’s Fox Squirrel occurs in peninsular Florida to the north end of Lake Okeechobee, and is more than twice the size of the common gray squirrel. It is probably destined for eventual “endangered” status. Fox squirrels are selective in their habitat needs. They depend mostly on pine seeds for food in the summer and on acorns during the remainder of the year.
Raccoons can be found just about everywhere, because they will eat just about anything. They are found in forests, marshes, prairies, and even in cities. They are adaptable and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of fare. Their life span in the wild is 2 to 3 years.
Gopher tortoises live in dry, upland habitats that have well-drained soils for them to dig their burrows. Their common habitat includes: pine flatwoods, xeric oak, sand pine, scrub oak, agricultural lands, and coastal dune and scrub. Their diet consists of grasses and legumes. The Gopher Tortoise is listed as a threatened species.
A common forest-dwelling hawk of the East and California, the Red-shouldered Hawk favors woodlands near water, but may also nest in suburban areas. It is perhaps the most vocal American hawk. It preys on snakes and frogs. It also eats insects and small mammals. Its call is a loud two syllable scream.
Corn snakes are slender with a length of 24 to 72 inches. They feed on mice, rats, birds, and bats. They are constrictors. They are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey south through Florida, west to Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. They help to control rodent populations that may otherwise spread disease
The river otter is a long, elongated water-loving animal found throughout Florida except the Keys. This playful animal is found from Mexico north to Alaska. They are especially abundant throughout Canada. Otters inhabit lakes ponds, marshes and inland waterways.
The Florida Box Turtle is one of the well known subspecies of Eastern Box Turtle. Box Turtles are usually seen early in the day, or after a rain. They are fond of slugs, earthworms, wild strawberries, and mushrooms. If habitat conditions remain constant, a Box Turtle may spend its life in an area scarcely larger than a football field.
This small Endangered Turtle at maturity reaches only about five inches and is easily identified by its three yellow or creamy beige stripes. The Striped Mud Turtle prefers swampy, shallow, still waters and is found most anywhere in Florida. The Striped Mud Turtle is omnivorous and will investigate nearly anything it comes across, including cow dung.
Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. They live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species with claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
Bobcats can be found in every county in Florida and in most states in the country. They are so named because of their ‘bobbed’ tail. The eastern cottontail, marsh rabbit and cotton rat are their primary prey. By feeding on these animals, the bobcat provides a necessary control on their populations.
Eastern River Cooters are capable of growing up to 16 inches (41 cm). The upper shell is typically dark greenish-brown with pale yellow markings. The skin is dark green with yellow stripes down the neck and legs. The bottom shell is yellow with a dark pattern that follows the scute seams. They are often confused with yellow-bellied sliders, which also have yellow stripes and yellow bottom shells, but the latter have green spots along their bellies.
As these turtles grow older, they tend to become very darker, obscuring much of the shell design. Wide, sometimes dark-edged, stripes under the chin form an upside-down “Y”. Males have a broader tail and may have a slightly concave bottom shell. Females tend to grow larger than males, and have a smaller tail and more convex bottom shell.