Red Wolf Facts
Once living throughout the Southeastern United States from
Texas to Florida, the Red Wolf may have ranged as far north as New York State. Wild populations of
these animals were eliminated by the 1960's, owing to predator control programs and habitat loss,
and the species was declared endangered in 1973. Red wolves are now being sustained by captive
populations and efforts to reintroduce them to their former range currently are being made in
Description & Habits The Red Wolf is intermediate in size between the Gray Wolf and the Coyote,
and may have originated long ago as a hybrid between these two species. An average adult is about the size of a German Shepherd dog.
Red Wolves prey upon deer and various small animals. They live in extended family groups called
'packs' and maintain territories which they defend against other wolves. Each breeding pair
produces a litter of 4-7 pups in March or April. The pups are often moved from one den to another
Almost hunted out of existence, 14 of the last wild Red Wolves were trapped by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service as the basis for a captive breeding program. As of 2007, about 170 animals now
live in captivity in 38 facilities across the U.S. Another 130 have been released into the wild.
Bobcats are medium-sized cats, bigger than a house cat while smaller
than a lion. Bobcats are nocturnal, being most active at night when their
prey is. They have excellent vision and hearing which are their most
important senses when it comes to hunting. They eat rabbits, rodents,
squirrels, ground-nesting birds, turkeys and occasionally have been known
to take a sick or small deer.
Bobcats have retractable claws like house cats. This is a good way to
tell the difference between a bobcat track and a dog since they
are similar in size. Bobcats can only eat about 3 pounds of meat at a time
so they will often cover up any leftover meat from a large game kill.
Bobcats can run at up to 30 miles per hour. Bobcats put their back feet in
the same place their front feet stepped so as not to disrupt the
surroundings any more than necessary. Bobcats mark their territory with
urine just as housecats. Bobcats are generally loners except during
Florida Black Bear Facts
Once estimated at 12,000 animals throughout Florida, Alabama and
Southern Georgia, there are less than 1,500 bears left today.
No human has ever been killed by a Black bear in Florida. An average male weighs
350 pounds, while a female averages about 150 pounds. A black bear´s diet is
about 80% vegetable matter. Such foods include berries, acorns, insects
and palmetto hearts. Both wetlands and upland forest habitats are home to
the Florida black bear.
Don Juan, Florida Panther (Courtesy Cathy Williams)
Florida Panther Facts
The Park currently houses a Western cougar as well as a
a newly arrived Florida panther. His name is Don Juan. There are only about 50 Florida
panthers left in Florida.
Panthers generally occupy upper dry land areas of the hardwood hammock,
pine flatwoods, saw palmetto and cabbage palm thickets. They also inhabit
wetland areas such as cypress forest, thicket swamps and freshwater marsh.
Palmetto and drier scrub areas are often used for denning and day beds.
Panthers prefer a secluded environment away from people and are rarely
seen in agricultural areas and citrus groves. Most active at dusk and dawn,
a panther can travel up to 20 miles a day, often moving in a zigzag
pattern. They tend to hunt during the cooler hours of the day and rest in
the hot afternoon hours.
It is simple to say that we humans are the panther´s biggest enemy,
yet the problem is much bigger than us now. Panthers are still lost to cat
fights but more often are killed by collisions with motor vehicles,
illegal hunting, mercury poisoning and disease. Due to the low population
numbers, the cats are inbreeding, which is also detrimental to the species.
Adverse effects such as abnormal semen and single testicle abnormality
found in males and a congenital heart disease as well as a decrease in
overall fitness making them more prone to disease.
So what exactly is killing our cats?
- Pseudo rabies PRV - a virulent viral pathogen found in feral hogs,
one of the cats main food sources. The virus is density dependant and is
fatal to hogs. It is believed that it is transferred to panthers by eating
hogs infected with the virus.
- Panleukopenia (feline distemper) - highly contagious, has the
potential to be extremely dangerous for the entire panther population.
Signs have shown up in 85% of those tested. They are also susceptible to
Feline Leukemia and FIV, the feline AIDS virus.
- Calcivirus - a respiratory disorder that has shown up in 50% of all
- Congenital Heart Defect - a hole in the heart which is a result of
- Parasites - seven species of ticks which in large numbers can cause
enemia. Tapeworm, hookworm, ringworm and intestinal flukes.
Native to central Africa, these nocturnal mammals are commonly found at
or in deep water rivers with marshes and reeds. The average length of a
hippo is approximately 11 feet with a shoulder height of 4.5 to 5 feet. A
male can weigh between 3,500 and 7,000 pounds while the female is much
smaller, reaching approximately 3,000 pounds. They have a large broad mouth
and short broad legs with four toes on each foot. A hippo´s eyes, ears
and nose are all found on the top of the head so the animal can see, hear
and breathe while remaining mostly submerged.
Why, you may ask, is an African species found at a Florida park with
all native wildlife? Well, Lu has lived here all his life. He was a
big movie star when this was an exotic animal park. Local residents took a
special liking to Lu and often visited him between his many movies. When
the Park went to strictly native species, Lu was bound for a transfer.
You can imagine the demand for a 6,000 pound hippopotamus is not
particularly high. When the locals caught wind of the intended transfer
they put up a fight to keep Lu here. Needless to say, their voices were
heard, and Lu was granted honorary state citizenship.
Hippos are able to remain fully submerged for up to 30 minutes
but usually surface every 3 to 5 minutes. Female hippos reach sexual
maturity at 5 to 6 years after which they enter estrus twice a year. The
gestation period lasts approximately 8 months, and a newborn hippo weighs
in around 60 to 110 pounds. Offspring are born and nurse underwater. A
hippo´s lifespan is commonly 40 to 50 years.
North American River Otter
North American River Otter Facts
This playful animal is found from Mexico north to Alaska. They are
especially abundant throughout Canada. Otters inhabit rivers, streams,
lakes, ponds, marshes and inland waterways. These social animals may make
their home in a hollow log or abandoned beaver lodge. However, they usually
dig a hole into the bank of a stream or lake. This hole leads to a
leaf-lined den. Otters can swim 3-4 mph underwater and up to 6 mph on the
surface. They can stay submerged for up to 4 minutes. They have short legs
and webbed toes to aid them in swimming.
The otter´s body is very streamlined and flexible, generally 18 to 42
inches in length with the male being up to 30% larger than the female.
Their coat is water repellent, short, smooth and dense. Overall their
color is dark brown but underparts, throat and cheeks are somewhat
Otters mate year round with activity peaking in late spring and early
summer. The gestation period is about 2 months after which 2-4 young are
born blind and helpless. They stay with their mother for about a year
while she teaches them to find and catch food for themselves. Otters reach
sexual maturity in about 2 years.
Florida Deer Facts
The Park boasts two types of deer, the White-tailed deer, which is
common throughout most of the United States east of Colorado, and the
Florida Key Deer, which is a smaller subspecies of the white-tailed deer
that occurs no where else in the world.
These deer are found occupying farmland, brushy areas and forests
throughout most of north America. These deer can be 3 to 3.5 feet tall
at the shoulder and anywhere from 4.5 to 6.75 feet in length. They
generally weigh 150 to 300 pounds. In the summer the deer have red-brown
fur that changes to gray-brown in the winter. The tail is
characteristically long, and the underside is white. If alarmed, the deer
raises its tail, exhibiting a bright flash of white. This
"hightailing" communicates danger to the other deer or helps a
fawn follow its mother in flight.
Smaller than the White-tailed deer, it is believed that this subspecies
migrated to the Keys from the mainland thousands of years ago. As the
Wisconsin glacier melted, the seas rose to create the islands we now
refer to as the Keys. These Key deer are the smallest of all
white-tailed deer. They are 24 to 28 inches high at the shoulder. Does
weigh approximately 45 to 65 pounds while the larger male can be 55 to
75 pounds. Key deer are herbivores, feeding mainly on native plants.
Also, they can tolerate small amounts of salt in their water.
Today there are between 250 and 300 of these deer remaining, and they
are protected by law. Federal law prohibits the disturbance and feeding
of the deer. We must respect the deer and their habitat so we can ensure
their survival throughout the Keys.
Last Revised -- September, 2008
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