Everglades is Home to the Florida Black Bear

florida black bearThe Florida Black Bear calls the Everglades its home. It lives all over Florida and is the state’s largest land mammal. They can weigh anywhere from 125 to 400 pounds.

The Everglades is a great environment for these black bears, because there aren’t too many humans around. These bears love a reclusive life. This park gives the bears to live in a place freely.

Florida black bears are unique because they adapted to thrive in a subtropical habitat, something no other black bear subspecies has accomplished. In South Florida, they live in habitats like sand-pine scrub, hardwood forests, pine rocklands, forested sloughs and oak scrub.

The Everglades is a perfect home for this bear, because it’s full of plant life, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of a black bear’s diet. These bears like to munch on the sabal palmetto, a native tree in the Everglades.

Even with protected wildernesses like the Everglades, Ocala National Forest and Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida black bears experience habitat reduction. Because of humans, Florida black bears lose 20 acres of habitat an hour due to roads, buildings, and homes. Humans also accidently kill black bears on the road, which is currently the primary cause of death of a black bear in Florida. Black bears are active at night and often cross roads, which is why they get hit.

Florida has never seen a predatory black bear attack on humans, but people have been hurt by black bears before, especially if the bear feels like it needs to defend itself or its cubs.

If you encounter a black bear in the Everglades, back away slowly, and never turn your back to a bear. Hold your hands up. Do not make eye contact with the bear. Do not run. Do not climb a tree. Make noise. Blow a whistle or bang things together to scare the bear. Speak calmly to the bear as it will recognize your calm tone. Do not feed a black bear.

Seeing a bear is pretty cool, but it’s cooler (and safer) when you’re not up-close-and-personal like on an airboat. An airboat ride can give you a glimpse of many animals, birds, and plants in the Park. Book an airboat tour by calling 800-368-0065  or visiting our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

Move Over Python: Poisonous Snakes in the Everglades

poisonous snakesBurmese pythons get a lot of attention for living in the Everglades, even though they are an invasive species. However, there are 23 snake species in the Everglades and four are venomous. Snakes, although terrifying to many, help keep the ecosystem in balance. These snakes control the number of other snakes, invertebrates and rodents in the Park. Bird and alligators also prey on snakes.

For this article, we wanted to detail the four venomous snakes that live in the Everglades, which include the Eastern coral snake, the Florida cottonmouth, the dusky pigmy rattlesnake, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

Eastern Coral Snake – This snake has red, yellow, and black bands running down its body. It can usually be found in a wooded habitat and it is very elusive in nature, since it spends a lot of time under ground or beneath foliage. Coral snakes are not confrontational; they account for less than one percent of all bites that occur in North America each year; however, their bite is the most venomous of all the snakes on the continent. This snake’s bite isn’t overly painful, but can cause death within just a few hours.

Florida Cottonmouth – This snake is known as the “water moccasin.” It is a type of pit viper and it is the only semiaquatic viper species in the world. This snake can be found around shallow waters such as streams and marshes. These snakes can really swim. They are black, brown, tan or olive in color; the Florida cottonmouth also has a very thick body and can be up to six feet long. Its bite is painful and can lead to death.

Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake—The dusky pigmy rattlesnake is a small snake between two to three feet. It can be found in both wet and dry areas. It is gray with black/brown dorsal spots across its back with white flecks on the stomach. This snake is aggressive and can be quick to bite with no warning. It has small fangs, so it only releases a small amount of venom with a bite. Its bite is rarely fatal, but can be more dangerous to a child or pet.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – This snake is the biggest of the venomous snakes in both mass and length; it can grow up to eight feet.  This snake is also a great swimmer. It can be found by water or understand. The diamondback rattlesnake has dark diamonds across its body, each separated by a whiteish color. It is extremely venomous, but it is not aggressive. They rattling their tails to warn anyone who may be a

These poisonous snakes can look similar to many non-venomous snakes. So, how can you tell the difference between a venomous snake and a non-venomous snake?

  1. Most snakes with a triangular head are venomous.
  2. Snakes with lengthwise stripes are non-venomous.

Never approach or touch a snake if you’re unsure what kind of snake you are approaching. Even if you know your snakes, it’s better to leave wildlife alone. If you want snakes to stay away from you, it’s a good idea to make a lot of noise while walking, so the snakes are aware you’re around. Keep your hands out of potential snake hiding spots (logs, brush, leaves, rock piles), as well. Stick to the trails, because you’re less likely to run into a snake on a cleared path.


An airboat tour is a great way to stay safe in the Everglades without running the risk of encountering a snake. You may even get to see one slither by on land or water.

To check out the beautiful ecosystem that the snakes contribute to, Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours will give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. To book an airboat ride, call  800-368-0065  or visit our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

 

Everglades Artist in Residence Program

everglades artistBesides alligators and birds, there is art in the park! The Artist in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE) offers artists, writers, and composers the opportunity to live and work in the Park for a period of up to one month.

The works completed in this program will contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of Everglades National Park. This program is meant for serious professionals who want to work alone in the wilderness. It’s a good program for those who care about and want to contribute to the environment. The park takes in 12 residents each year.

Artists are provided a furnished apartment during the residency (about four weeks). It is in the Royal Palm area, near the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. Residents need to bring personal belongings, foods, and supplies. Artwork includes painting, video arts, sculpture, photography, mixed media, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Student work is not eligible.

Each artist is asked to donate one piece of art that reflects their residency for the park’s collection. Also, each artist must volunteer a few hours during their residency to interact with park visitors and staff. This volunteer work can include “art walks,” slide lectures, exhibitions, and workshops.

The resident is chosen by a panel of experts and professional artists, curators, and educators, along with park personnel.

In the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in the Everglades, you can have the chance to see AIRIE NEST, which is an interdisciplinary art gallery put on display by AIRIE, Inc (Artists in Residence in Everglades).

This exhibit features visual art, performing art, art-science driven collaboration, artwork from the AIRIE permanent collection, as well as educational workshops. The mission of this exhibit is to “educate, enhance and enrich the visitor’s understanding and experience of Everglades National Park through quality Everglades’ specific exhibits; foster a unique opportunity for the future generations of Park stewards to learn about the Everglades.”
AIRIE Nest Gallery is located at Everglades National Park’s Coe Visitor Center, 40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL. The gallery is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, free of charge.

To see what artwork is up for display, visit the AIRIE website.

Before or after visiting this wonderful exhibit, or while you’re an artist in residence, explore the Everglades by airboat on a ride with Captain Mitch. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. To book an airboat ride, call  800-368-0065  or visit our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

2018 Showed Everglades Restoration Helped Wading Birds

roseate spoonbillResearchers, scientists, government officials, park staff, and civilians have been trying to restore the Everglades in many different ways. One way is by helping out native species. We want native species to thrive in the Everglades, not disappear.

 

Many scientists have been trying to restore native bird populations. And in the last few months, state environmental officials announced that in 2018 there was in increase in wading bird nests that haven’t been seen since the 1940s.

 

According to South Florida Water Management District’s 2019 wading bird report, prepared along with Audubon Florida, the Everglades saw about 138,834 nests of white ibises, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, and other long-legged bird species in 2018. The highest number before that was 51,270 nests in 2009. There was even a “supercolony” in western Broward County where 59,120 nests were found, which has not been seen since the 1930s.

 

As you can tell by the numbers, this is great news and a promising outlook for native bird species in the Everglades.

 

How did this number increase so much? Well, one reason is the increase in fish populations due to the year’s rainfall patterns. The Broward supercolony birds likely increased due to the restoration of more water being moved around a teardrop-shaped island. The deep water kept away predators like racoons, so it was easier to nest.

 

2019 likely won’t see as big of a number as 2018, due to weather, but 2018’s season shows that further restoration on waterflow improvement will likely be successful for wading birds.  A bird biologist from the water management district believes if they get the water right at the right time, species can be recovered quickly.

 

Birds are a sight to see in the Everglades, and you can catch a glimpse of them in their habitat on an airboat tour.

 

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is a trip where you can see wildlife and a side of the Everglades like nowhere else.

To book a trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

Safety Tips for a Trip to the Everglades

safety tipsThe Everglades is a great place to take the whole family. There’s a lot of wonderful things to see and areas to explore, along with activities like airboat tours, biking, canoeing, shuttles, walking tour, and much more. Being an outdoor Park filled with wildlife, visitors must take precaution as anything can happen in terms of weather, flooding, restrictions, bugginess, etc.

When visiting the Park, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the park’s safety rules, so you can get the most out of your visit. Safety is critical no matter what you choose to do in the park.

We’ve listed some of the Everglades National Park’s safety precautions, tips, and rules below. These safety rules are in play no matter the time of year you plan to visit the area.

  1. Pay attention to the weather. It can get very hot and humid in the Everglades during the summer. Dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, bring water, and bug spray.
  2. Children must be supervised. There are animals roaming freely all in the grasses and vegetation alongside the trails. For your child’s safety and yours, make sure everyone sticks to the trails.
  3. Pets are not allowed on the trails.
  4. Feeding wildlife is not allowed and is illegal. Animals can become aggressive if they’re being fed by humans in their wild habitat.
  5. Be aware of vultures. Vultures are federally protected. They have been known to damage the windshields, sunroofs, and windshield wipers of cars and other vehicles. The Park suggests you avoid parking near groups of vultures, park in full sun, put a car cover over the car, use loud noises to spook the vultures off the car or vehicle, and notify a park ranger if one is on your car and won’t leave.
  6. Leave the wildlife alone. If you harm, touch, or bother the animals or birds, you can get in trouble; it is illegal to interfere with the animals in any way.
  7. Do not leave a fire unattended.
  8. Do not tie or attach anything to trees.
  9. Do not leave garbage out or behind – this can attract wildlife.
  10. The Park suggests applying insect repellant before walking on any of the trails; the park also sells repellant at all stores in the Park. It’s best to stick to walking on paved areas if you want to stay away from bugs as much as possible.

Keep these 10 tips and safety rules in mind while visiting the Everglades. The trip will be much more enjoyable if you prepare for the trip properly, and don’t bother the animals of environment in any way.

Riding on an airboat is a safe and fun way to explore the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been navigating through the wetland for decades.

To book a trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

 

Parts of an Airboat

airboat tourAn airboat is an iconic site in the Everglades – being on one is an experience you’ll never forget. Airboats can glide along in shallow, marshy waters due to their flat-bottom design and their above-water propeller; they are also known as fan boats.

Years ago, airboats were the primary mode of transportation in the Everglades, but now they are used for recreational purposes.

In 1942, Barrel Head House built one of the first commercial airboats. After that, Everglades visitors enjoyed viewing the Park on these boats where they could see alligators, plants, birds, and other wildlife. Airboats are still one of the most popular tourist attractions in south Florida and the Everglades.

Below, we have detailed some parts that make up an airboat.

  • Engine: Airboats have an aircraft or automotive V8 engine ranging from 500 to 600+ horsepower.
  • Propeller: Airboats have an aircraft propeller operates out-of-water to power the airboat.
  • Propeller cage: This sits inside a metal cage, which protects the boat and its inhabitants from injury from the propeller’s blades.
  • Rudder panels: Steering an airboat relies heavily on rudder panels, which help direct air.
  • Rudder stick: The rudder stick is located on the airboat driver’s left side; the rudder stick directs the boat through the swamp.
  • Accelerator: The airboat captain uses the accelerator to pick up speed during airboat rides.

Explore the Everglades on a Private Airboat Tour

Captain Mitch’s Private Everglades airboat tours is based in Everglades City and is one of the oldest airboat tours in the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been running safe, fun and family-friendly excursions throughout Everglades’ wilderness for decades.

To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or visit the Everglades Airboat Tours  page.

Everglades Trails You Should Check Out

trailsThe Everglades is a magical place to explore, but being that it’s the outdoors, it’s a good idea to stick to paths and trails. The Everglades National Park allows visitors to explore the area with many hiking and bike trails winding throughout the wetlands. People can also canoe, boat, and kayak through the Everglades’ waterways.

If you choose to go on a trail, the Park recommends that visitors bring water with them and to pay attention to the weather forecast. If you hear thunder, the Park suggests going into a building or vehicle. Being a warm climate, insects are plentiful, so you should wear appropriate clothing and apply bug spray. Pets are not allowed on any of the Park’s trails.

Below, we’ve shared few trails within the Park that allows people to explore.

The following trails are currently not being maintained because there are endangered species nearby.

Coastal Prairie Trail – This trail is 11.2 miles long. It isn’t recommended due to its high exposure of mosquitos and sun and mud. Being 11.2 miles, it can be a tiring walk.  This trail is a critical habitat for the Cape Sable thoroughwort.

Snake Bight – Snake Bite is a 7.6-mile loop trail. It is moderately-difficult and leads from the forest to the shoreline of the Florida Bay. You may see crocodiles, flamingos (in December), mosquitos, pythons and anacondas on this trail. This trail is good for biking and walking, but it does get buggy. This trail is considered a critical habitat for the Cable Sable thoroughwort.

Christian Point Trail – This is a 4.2-mile harder trail that leads you deep into a mangrove forest along the Florida Bay. Beyond the forest, the trail will lead you to a small prairie that opens up later into a large mark prairie. It can also be buggy. This trail is a critical habitat for Cape Sable thoroughwort. c

Other Non-Maintained Trails to Checkout:
Rowdy Bend
Bear Lake
LPK Bike Trail

These trails are maintained:

Anhinga Trail – This trail is easy and is .8 of a mile long. It’s close to the Park entrance, which is why most visitors travel on this trail. You can easily spot wildlife along this trail, including alligators and birds. There are several observation decks throughout the trail.

Bayshore Loop – Bayshore Loop is an easy to moderate level trail that is 1.3 miles long. This trail is very buggy. This loop will bring you along the edge of the Florida Bay through the coastal prairie habitat. It passes through the original fishing village of Flamingo. Bayshore Loop is a great bird-watching trail.

Pa-Hay-Okee Boardwalk – The Pa-Hay-Okee Boardwalk is an easy .2 loop that leads visitors through the “River of Grass” (Pa-Hay-Okee) within the Park for a close look at the area. It leads people to an observation tower.

Other Maintained Trails in the Everglades:
Bear Lake Trail
Bobcat Boardwalk
Gumbo Limbo Trail
Guy Bradley Trail
Mahogany Hammock Trail
Old Ingraham Highway
Otter Cave Hammock Trail
Pinelands Ecotone
West Lake Mangrove Trail

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

From alligators to flowers, there’s a lot to observe and explore on these trails – you get an up-close-and-personal experience in a beautiful area. If you’re tired of walking or you want a different view of the Everglades, hop on an airboat tour.

To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or visit the Everglades Airboat Tours . Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been giving fun, informative, and safe tours in the Everglades for decades.

 

The Newest Problem with Burmese Pythons in the Everglades

burmese pythonsBy now, you likely know that the Burmese Python is an invasive species to the Everglades, causing a lot of destruction. You’ve probably seen several articles of python hunters catching huge pythons and removing them from the Everglades, so they won’t breed or kill any more native wildlife. By reducing the number of pythons in the Everglades, hunters are helping bring a balance back to the ecosystem to the Everglades.

Now, researchers are finding that the Burmese pythons are threatening wading bird nests in the Everglades. It was always known that pythons eat wading birds, but now this is the first time that researchers have documented pythons eating nestlings. Researches from the University of Florida found that there is more python activity on islands with wading bird colonies than those without bird. In a study, the researchers caught snakes eating eggs and young birds on camera five times more than racoons, rat snakes, and other predators.

Unfortunately, it has been estimated pythons have already eaten/killed more than 90 percent of mid-sized mammals in the Everglades. Pythons can eat more than their own body weight and grow up to seven feet long in their first year of life. Researchers are worried bird species will be wiped out in the Everglades, especially since they aren’t prepared to deal with this invasive predator.

The answer to restoring the wildlife balance in the Everglades lies in the reduction/eradication of the pythons. To get a permit to hunt for pythons, click Everglades python permit page.

The pythons lower animal populations by eating them, but they also harm the population who eats them! These snakes’ bodies hold high levels of mercury, which can poison any animal or reptile that eats them. The pythons’ presence is changing the entire ecosystem of the Everglades

If python hunting isn’t your thing, visit the Everglades in a much more relaxing way… on an airboat tour! An airboat tour will give you a glimpse of the Everglades’ native, wonderful wildlife that is still around, despite pythons. To book a tour, click the Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours page or call 239-695-3377.

 

Thousands of Spiders Live in the Everglades

spidersWhat is creepy and crawly, has 8 legs and scares a lot of people? Spiders! For the most part, people either love or hate spiders. Spider love the Everglades. In fact, there are 20,000 spiders per acre of land in the Everglades… and the Everglades is 1.5 million acres of wetlands, so that’s A LOT of spiders. The spiders enjoy the warm climate. Some are easy to spot while other spiders are barely visible to the naked eye.

Just like other species, there are native and invasive species of spiders in the Everglades. The invasive species have made their way to the Eveglades and Florida by airplane, ships, and other animals.

Some of these spiders make webs while others live in the leaves and brush on the ground. Even if you hate spiders, you have to respect the fact that are essential to a healthy Everglades’ ecosytem. They eat a lot of insects and they get eatn by other prey.

Here are three types of spiders living in the Everglades:

Banana Spider – This spider is an orb-weaving spider. They consume mosquitoes, bees, butterflies, flies, small moths, and wasps. This spider is also known as a gold silk spider, because of the color of the silk of their webs. It loves high humidity. The female banana spider is one of the largest orb weavers in America coming in around three inches long in size. The female banana spider ha yellow, white, orange and brown on its body, while the males are dark brown in color. The female can spin a three-foot-wide web. The banana spider is not an aggressive spider, and its bite is harmless to humans.

Red Widow Spider – The red widow spider has a reddish color on its head and legs; its abdomen (body) is black. The red widow is a venomous spider. According to the University of Missouri, no bites have ever been recorded from this spider, so little is known about its venom. The female red widow spiders are a ½ inch in size and male red widow spiders are about 1/3 of the size of the female. This spider can be found in the pine scrub habitat along the sandy ridges in central and southeastern Florida. It web is built on palmetto leaves. The primary prey of this spider is the scarab beetle.

Brown Recluse Spider – The brown recluse spider is one of the most poisonous spiders in the Everglades. This spider is common in tropical climates, and they are not native to Florida. This spider is the size of a quarter. They make webs, but they also will wander to look for their food, such as cockroaches and other insects. A brown recluse spider will not bite a human unless it’s trapped up against the person’s skin (if you roll onto a spider or if it’s in your clothing). This spider’s venom can cause necrosis, loss of limb, and death.

Viewing Spiders in the Everglades

If you want to view some spiders in the Everglades, you’ll have to look closely as you walk along the trails. Despite being terrifying to many people, these eight-legged creatures help balance the ecosystem.
Want to have some fun in the Everglades while learning about the area? Jump on an airboat to try and catch a glimpse of one of these arachnids as you sail on by. To book an airboat tour, visit the Everglades Airboat Tours  or call 239-695-3377. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been giving fun, informative, safe tours in the Everglades for decades.

Go Canoeing and Kayaking in the Everglades

explore in evergladesDo you like being active? Do you like canoeing and kayaking? Or, you want to try? The Everglades is a perfect place to venture out! You can paddle on through freshwater marsh, mangrove forests, and Florida Bay.

All canoeing and kayaking trails in the Everglades are different lengths – some can take a few hours to complete, while others can take several days.

You can bring your own canoe or kayak and you can set sail from many locations in the park. Canoe and Kayak rentals ae available at Flamingo Marina. Click here for more info on rentals. If you don’t want to go alone, you can go with a guide, who will lead your trip. You can find info about the permitted guides here.

If you want a multi-day canoe/kayak backcountry trip in Florida Bay and the 10,000 Islands, visit here. Otherwise, here is where you can go for a day canoe or kayak trip:

  • Flamingo’s Canoe TrailsThese trails are located 38 miles south of the main park entrance in Homestead. There are beginner, mid-level, and advanced trails. They  can be accessed from launch areas in the Flamingo Marina or along the main park road as you get to Flamingo.
  • Nine Mile Pond: This location easily accessible off the main park road just before you enter the Flamingo area.
  • Hell’s Bay – This is a good trail if you want to paddle through mangroves. It can be buggy and challenging, but it very popular. You can find it off the main park road south of the Homestead Entrance.
  • Gulf Coast Paddling Guide – This is on the west coast accessible through Everglades City.

Take a Ride through the Everglades on An Airboat

If paddling isn’t your thing, see the Everglades on the water by airboat. You get to be on the water without tiring out your arms!  An airboat tour is fun. You will see animals, birds, and plants on this tour you may not get to see by foot.

To book a private Everglades airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Private Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).