The Everglades is home to some of Florida's most unique animals. Check out our run down of some of the most amazing wildlife found lurking in the depths of the Everglades.
1. Green Anole - (Anolis carolinensis)
This little green lizard can sometimes grow to about 20 centimetres (8 inches) in length, including its long slender tail. It lives amongst the trees and bushes where it's so well camouflaged, it's often difficult to spot. Like a chamaeleon, the anole can even change the colour of its skin, usually through various shades of green and brown. It also has a distinctive flap beneath its chin that's known as a dewlap. The lizard can inflate this sac and make it turn bright red. The anole's favourite meals include insects, flies and spiders.
2. Manatee - (Trichechidae)
The manatee is the gentle giant of the Everglades. When fully grown, it has a build similar to a hippopotamus and can measure more than four metres (thirteen feet). Also known as the sea cow, the manatee is noted for its intelligence and the range of vocal noises it uses to communicate with other manatees. It likes to spend at least half the day relaxing and dozing in the deep, calm waters of the Everglades. The remainder of its day is spent wandering amongst the streams while grazing on its favourite sea grasses and aquatic plants.
3. Florida Panther - (Puma concolor coryi)
The elusive Florida panther belongs to the cougar family of big cats that is fairly common throughout America. The Florida panther is an endangered species although successful conservation programmes are helping it to slowiy increase in number. It likes to live amongst the rich hunting grounds of the swamps and forests that make up the Everglades. The golden brown panther can sometimes be seen quietly stalking its prey around the trees during the day. As a carnivore, it prefers to eat mostly local deer, but it will also enjoy raccoons and rabbits.
4. Marsh Rabbit - (Sylvilagus palustris)
The marsh rabbit is a surprisingly successful inhabitant of the marshy wetlands. It lives in burrows or dens in the higher patches of ground between the pools of water. It's also classified as a cottontail rabbit due to its small fluffy tail. Although there are many rabbits in the swamps, they are mostly nocturnal and little seen during the day. They like to spend the moonlit hours foraging for tasty plant roots, water hyacinths and sea grasses. The marsh rabbits are remarkably strong swimmers which enables them to easily move around the Everglades.
5. Roseate Spoonbill - (Platalea ajaja)
The roseate is the only spoonbill found in America. Medium-sized, it has long, slender legs that enable it to wade through the streams and pools. It uses its spoon shaped beak to forage in the sand at the bottom of the pools, lifting small crustaceans, shellfish and minnows. The chemical compounds in the roseate's food influence the colour of its striking plumage. The roseate is mainly pale pink, but it has bright magenta feathers on its wings. Roseate spoonbills live in small flocks and spend their time wading through the swamps. They nest on the higher ground of islets, raising between two and five fledglings each year.
6. North American River Otter - (Lontra canadensis Schreber)
These playful otters love to explore the freshwater streams of the Everglades. They make burrows amongst the tree roots and banks of the islands where they'll often sleep away the day. Once dusk falls, the otters usually venture out and begin searching for snacks of fish and crayfish. They'll occasionally eat snakes to add variety to their diet. The river otters are sociable animals and like to form small family groups, teaching the youngest otters how to play and hunt. They'll largely ignore nearby humans, but can become aggressive if they are disturbed.
7. American Alligator - (Alligator mississippiensis)
This fierce reptile is one of the most common creatures in the Everglades. It prefers the freshwater streams unlike its cousin, the American Crocodile, which only lives along the salty, coastal strip. Alligators can grow to a length of 4.5 metres (fifteen feet). Virtually unchanged since prehistoric days, the alligators spend some of their time aggressively defending their territory. Alligators contribute to the ecosystem of the Everglades by excavating small, deep pools. These provide habitats for the fish and crustaceans they like eating. As parents, alligators are very attentive and care for broods of up to fifty young.