Wildlife Scavenger Hunt

12 Wild Animals You Might See in the Everglades

Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, crocodiles, otters, deer, birds and more.

By Cooper Levey-Baker February 27, 2020 Published in the March 2020 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Easy to Spot

American Alligator

Of the more than 1.2 million alligators in Florida, an estimated 200,000 live in the Everglades. You can get close (safely) to these dinosaur-like beasts from certain vantage points.

Roseate spoonbill

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Roseate Spoonbill

One of the most striking birds in the Everglades, the roseate spoonbill is bright pink, with brilliant scarlet streaks on its sides. Its color comes from the crustaceans it eats.

Florida Gar

A long, skinny fish with a pointy snout, the Florida gar is a common site in freshwater, where the fish will float on the surface and wait for prey to drift within striking distance.

Banded Water Snake

While the notorious invasive Burmese python grabs all the headlines, you’re much more likely to encounter a banded water snake in the Everglades’ freshwater habitats.

White-tailed deer

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White-Tailed Deer

Most active at dawn and dusk, the white-tailed deer typically weighs between 90 and 115 pounds and feeds on swamp lilies, aquatic herbs and woody plants.


On most boat trips around the Ten Thousand Islands, you’ll spot dolphins swimming together playfully. Bonus points if you spot a baby one tagging along with his or her mama. 

Hard to Find

Florida Panther

There are at most 160 Florida panthers left in the wild, so, while the Everglades is one of the species’ favorite habitats, you’d be extremely lucky to come across one. 

American Crocodile

You might not want to get close enough to tell whether you’re looking at a crocodile or an alligator, but if you do, look for the crocodile’s narrow snout to identify it.

Wood Stork

Shrinking wetlands and changing water cycles have led to a loss of wood storks, which are now designated as “threatened,” but it’s not too unusual to spot one hunting for fish or reptiles in low-lying water.

River otter

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River Otter

The river otter can be found in freshwater all around Florida, but actually observing one in the wild can be difficult, because this feisty animal is mostly nocturnal.

Everglades Snail Kite

Overdevelopment and the loss of wetlands have led to this raptor being identified as “endangered.” Also, they typically only eat native apple snails, which are being displaced by exotic snails.

Burmese python

Image: Shutterstock

Burmese Python

The Everglades’ most notorious invasive species, pythons have killed off more than 90 percent of the Everglades’ mammal population and are even hurting the alligator population, because gators can’t find enough prey. But since they hunt at night, you likely won’t see one.

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