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).


How to Support the Everglades

support the evergladesThe Everglades is a National Park. It is home to thousands of plants, flowers, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and more. The area provides drinking water for much of south Florida. There are species that live in the Everglades that live nowhere else in the world. It’s beautiful and there’s a lot to learn in this expansive Park. However, as years have gone by, the Everglades has shrunk in size. The area has become threatened due to human development and invasive species.

As you’ve probably heard or read about right now, the Everglades is undergoing a restoration process that will take millions of dollars and many years. The point of this restoration is to restore the Everglades back to its original state (change back the flow of water) so the Everglades can begin to flourish again, and better survive alongside humans, invasive species, and climate change.

Government and state officials are those who will and can dictate funding for the Everglades, but what can you do as a citizen of the United States to support this precious park?

  • You can become a volunteer at the park. Whether it’s a one-time outing or a long commitment. From picking up trash to leading a group, there are many different volunteering opportunities at the park.
  • You can donate. The Park can accept donations by check or through its friends group the South Florida National Parks Trust (by check or credit card). Donations help park programs (education programs, ranger guided programs, public safety programs, etc.) continue to run. Donations can be made directly to the Park by check or money order, payable to National Park Serviceand mailed to :Superintendent Everglades National Park, 40001 State Road 9336,Homestead, FL 33034-6733
  • You can donate to the South Florida National Parks Trust, which supports the Everglades. Donations help support education resource protection, visitor services, volunteer activities and community engagement.
  • You can join the park’s friends group, the South Florida National Parks Trust. As a member, you will eceive gifts, discounts to bookstores in the four national parks the Trust helps, monthly park updates, and invites to special events.
  • You can put a traveling exhibit/display at a facility in your local community like a school or library. It will help spread the word about the Park.

Support from the public is what helps national parks thrive and survive. The national park system is the only federal agency to rely heavily on visitors, donors. and volunteers

To learn more about supporting the Everglades, visit here.

Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

Whether you’re visiting or volunteering, the Everglades is spectacular to explore.  An airboat tour is a fun way to explore the Everglades.

To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s 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).


Is an Airboat Tour Safe?

airboat tourAn airboat tour is a safe ride. Just like going on a boat, car, bus, plane, motorcycle, and any other moving vehicle or vessel, there are risks, but if you and the captain follow safety rules and the boat is kept up, you will be in for a safe, memorable ride.

At Captain Mitch’s Airboat tours, we perform regular maintenance on our airboats to ensure they are safe for rides. Our captains have years of experience and are knowledge with airboats, boating and the waterways of the Everglades. They know how to direct the boat through different areas and waters safely. We also will not set out on the water if the weather is too dangerous. We do no want to get caught in a thunder and lightening storm on the water.

Our captains will bring you by all sorts of wildlife and plant life. You may spot alligators, fish, snakes, frogs, birds, and other animals. You will always be kept at a safe distance – you don’t need to worry about any wildlife feeling threatened.

Our captains will discuss safety precautions before heading out into the water. You should keep your hands down. Dress appropriately for the weather (can get windy/chillier on the boat). You should wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and/or a hat for sun protection.

Our boats have a First Aid kit on board and lifejackets.

If everyone plays by the rules, an airboat tour will be the ride of your life!

Discover the Everglades on An Airboat

An airboat tour is a fun-filled way to explore the Everglades. It’s an experience you’ll never forget, and you will see a side of the Everglades you can’t in any other way.

To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s 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).


The Everglades Junior Ranger Program

junior rangerThe National Park Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program held in most parks across the United States, including the Everglades. Junior Rangers are usually between the ages of 5 and 13 years old. The motto of the Junior Ranger program is “Explore, Learn, and Protect!” Children take an oath as junior rangers to help protect parks and to learn about parks, while also sharing their ranger story with family and friends.

For children who want to become a junior ranger, they will participate in a bunch of activities during a visit to the park, share answers with a park ranger, and receive a Junior Ranger patch and certificate.

The mission of the program is to connect children and young people to national parks through hands-on, guided, and self-guided activities. The hope is to create future generations who explore and care about the existence and importance of these parks.

In the Everglades and online the Junior Ranger book is available in English, Spanish and Creole but is currently removed as it is being made compliant for those with disabilities. If you would like a digital copy of the any of these languages, you can email  the Everglades National Park to request a copy to be emailed to you.

Ride Around the Everglades on An Airboat

After a run day exploring with your Junior Ranger(s), you can sit back and explode the Everglades in a different way: on an airboat tour.

An airboat tour is fun for visitors of all ages. You will see things on this tour you may not get to see by foot.

To book an 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).


Go Fishing in the Everglades

go fishing in the evergladesBeing that the Everglades is one-third water, it is a great place to go fishing. In the Everglades, fisherman have the opportunity to fish for snapper, sea trout, bluegill, bass, red fish, and more. Saltwater and freshwater fishing are both available in the Everglades, but fisherman need to obtain separate Florida fishing licenses in order to fish in one or both. It is essential to pay attention to the state and federal fishing guidelines to avoid fines.

When it comes to freshwater fishing, you need a Florida freshwater fishing license. You cannot use live or dead fish, amphibians, or roe for bait. You cannot dig for bait inside the park. Fishing is not allowed at

the Ernest F. Coe (Main) Visitor Center lakes, Royal Palm Visitor Center area and trails, Chekika Lake, along the first 3 miles of the Main Park Road, including Taylor Slough, or along the Shark Valley Tram Road.

For saltwater fishing, you need a Florida saltwater fishing license. Bait, except for mullet and shrimp, is not included in bag limits. Saltwater bait allowed includes shrimp, minnows, pilchards, pinfish, mullet, mojarras (shad), or ballyhoo. Bait may be taken with hook and line, dip net (not wider than 3 feet / 0.9 m) and cast net. There is no fishing is allowed in Eco, Mrazek or Coot Bay Ponds, or from the boardwalk at West Lake, or at the Flamingo Marina during daylight hours.

With saltwater fishing, fisherman need to keep and eye out for manatees.

Fisherman are not allowed to take lobster or queen conch. You can take stone crabs during the open season and blue crabs can be taken using the proper attended gear like star traps, baited lines, landing nets, etc. You are limited to 5 traps per person. You can fish for shrimp by a dip net (not wider than 3 feet) or cast net – you cannot sell the shrimp.

It’s important to note high levels of mercury have bee found in the bass in the Everglades, so they should not be eaten. You should also not eat spotted seatrout, gafftopsail, catfish, bluefish, crevalle jack, or ladyfish more than once a week by adults or once a month by children or women of child-bearing age.

While fishing, it is prohibited to take plants, seahorses, starfish, conch, tropical fish, coral, sponges, sea shells, and driftwood (except for fuel).

Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

Fishing in the Everglades can be a blast, but make sure you follow the guidelines, which can be found here.

If fishing isn’t your thing, go on the water in a different way…an airboat.

You’ll make lots of memories on an airboat ride. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.

Everglades Wildlife Profile: Florida Cricket Frog

everglades wildlifeSeemingly endless amphibians live within the Everglades, including, unfortunately, some invasive species. The Everglades is the ideal habitat and breeding ground for amphibians considering there is so much water intertwined with land. Throughout the park, you can easily hear frogs and toads at any given time.


For this article, we wanted to share information on the Florida cricket frog. This frog is native to Florida and the Everglades and lives mostly all over the state. This frog can be found in freshwater places like lakes, puddles, streams, marshes, and roadside ditches.


An adult Florida cricket frog can grow to be between 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches in length. This type of frog can be different shades varying from dark brown to tan to green.


You can easily identify a Florida cricket frog by the triangular mark on the back of its head in between its eyes – they often also have a stripe along their spine, as well.


In Florida, there are three types of cricket frogs: Northern Cricket Frog, Southern Cricket Frog, and Florida Cricket Frog. The Florida cricket frog has two dark stripes on the back with no anal warts. The other two types have anal warts and different types of stripes.


The Florida cricket frog has webbed toes, do not have enlarged toe pads, and do not have enlarged glands behind the head.


This species of frog breeds from April to the fall months. They lay small clusters on plants in the water.


The cricket frog’s call sounds lick clicking similar to glass hitting another piece of glass.

Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

Come try and see (and hear) the Florida Cricket Frog on an airboat ride in the Everglades – you never know what you will see on one of these rides!

You’ll learn a lot on an airboat ride while seeing a lot of beautiful, majestic sights.

An airboat ride is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – experience it for yourself! To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.



Everglades Wildlife Profile: Northern Pintail

everglades wildlifeThe Everglades is known for its birdwatching. The region attracts all kinds of birds each year. In fact, more than 360 species of birds exist in the Park. For this article, we wanted to share some facts about the Northern Pintail, which is a type of duck.

  • Northern pintails have long necks.
  • These ducks are smaller than mallards.
  • They have a long and pointed tail. The tail is even longer on breeding males than females and non-breeding males.
  • They have long and narrow wings.
  • Breeding males have a white breast and a white line down their brown head and neck.
  • While flying, you can see green feathers on the winner wings of the male pintails, while females have a bronze-colored inner feathers.
  • These ducks eat seeds and insects from the surface of the water. They will also eat grain.
  • They can be found around the edges of wetlands, ponds, lakes, tidal marshes, bays, croplands, grasslands, wet meadows, and shortgrass prairies.
  • They socialize with other ducks throughout the year and are usually in big groups.
  • The Northern Pintail is known to be one of the most numerous duck species in the world.
  • It is known for its elegant appearance.
  • These ducks molt in the late summer.
  • These ducks find most of their food under water.
  • They can lay anywhere from 6 to 12 eggs at one time.

Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

As you jet through the waters of the Everglades, there is always a chance to spot a bird, whether in the sky or water. On an airboat tour, you will have the opportunity to see the Everglades up close and personal. Your airboat Captain will also educate you about some Everglades facts along the way.


Come out for the time of your life on an airboat – it will be an experience you will never forget.

To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.



Everglades Wildlife Species: Bartram’s Scrub-Hairstreak

everglades wildlifeBartram’s Scrub-Hairstreak is a federally-endangered butterfly native to the pine rockland habitat of south Florida. Here are some facts about this species of butterfly in the Park:

  • This butterfly is easily recognized by its wide, white bands with black edges.
  • Their host plant is pineland croton, which they don’t fly far from. It’s usually never more than 17 feet away from the plant.
  • They can be found year-round in the Park, but are not in abundant.
  • Their populations have declined over the years possibly due to the destruction of the pine rockland habitat, invasive species, insecticides, collecting, and fire suppression. They also are dependent on the health and population of their host plant.
  • They can be found in small amounts in Miami-Dade County and Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys.
  • Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak caterpillars molt five times while growing.
  • Scientists have studied this butterfly to see how it responds to prescribed fire. The National Park Service is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help keep these species of butterfly from becoming extinct.
  • This butterfly is one-inch long.
  • This butterfly is mostly gray in color, which it helps it blend in with the pine rockland environment.
  • Males have a white abdomen while females have a gray abdomen.
  • This butterfly became federally protected in 2014.


Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

Being that it’s endangered and rare to spot, it’s likely you won’t get to see this beautiful butterfly on a trip to the Everglades; however, there are plenty of other butterflies and insects for you to see on your visit.

Looking for a fun way to explore the Everglades? An airboat tour is exhilarating. You can see parts of the Everglades you’d never get to see by foot.

To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s 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.