South Florida & St. Croix

I’ll be in South Florida and St. Croix in mid-October. I’ve read all the trip reports and previous blogs on this and there’s a lot of good information. Some follow-up questions:

Can the Florida mastiff bat be seen over the Coral Gables golf courses in October?

I have seen some mentions of a spotted skunk spot near Miami, perhaps that a field herper takes people to? Is that still an option, or is it a secret spot?

Any reliable place to see manatees at this time of year?

I know this is a long shot, but it looks like St. Croix has some interesting bats. Anyone know of any bat biologists on that island?

Any other news tips or spots greatly appreciated. Thanks!



  • vdinets

    Manatees can be seen until early November at manatee viewpoint in Merritt Island NWR. You can also try Flamingo Harbor, but that’s not 100%. Another place is the canals in Coral Gables just S of Matteson Hammock Park – just look up the recent crocodile attack there, it will give you a good street address. But again, it’s not 100%.

    Mastiff bats could be seen at those golf courses pretty much year-round when they were common, but nowadays it might take a while. There is a pond in Homestead where they sometimes come to drink just after sunset, but (a) the last time I was there was in 2010, and (b) you have to climb over a low fence with “no trespassing – dangerous wildlife” signs. I’ve never been able to figure out what wildlife they meant, but mosquitoes there are certainly capable of biting you to death. There used to be a couple of introduced caimans in the pond, but those aren’t dangerous. It’s at 25.505 N, 80.387 W.

  • Mike Richardson

    Hi Matt.

    As far as I know (and I may well be wrong here) the secret Spotted Skunk spot was actually close to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Okeechobee County. It was an area where people had dumped various items of trash and was popular with the field herping community. The skunks were often found under debris.

    Unfortunately most of the trash has now been cleaned up and the skunks are not reliable anymore. However, driving the roads outside KPPSP can still produce skunks as I found out last October (details in my report). The animal I saw was very close to the park entrance up a dead-end dirt road.

  • cmh78

    Mike is correct on the skunk spot. It was a tin site that has since been cleaned up by scrappers. This popped up on FHF a few years ago,

    “I regularly see several Spotted Skunks at A.D. Barnes Park in Miami. They are in the SW hammock, often associating with feral cats.”

    I tried for them a couple/few years ago and did not see them. I talked to the cat lady and she said she hadn’t seen one in a few weeks.

  • taihaku

    Re St. Croix – the island has an excellent botanic garden with an interesting collection of palms and cycads. That’d be my first choice for bats (you will also get the endemic anole there) amongst the palm fronds and in and around the old buildings. That’s probably the best place on the island to find a local sympathetic to your quest too. Might be worth calling the NPS in St John too – they could be some help (you may also want to hop over to st john for the dwarfed VI white-tail deer too?).

  • mattinidaho

    Thanks everyone for this great information. I will be at Archbold Biological Station in the spring so I’ll leave the central Florida spots for then, but it looks like I have plenty of places to check out. Keep the recommendations coming! Thanks again.

  • Jon Hall

    Hi Matt, I couldn’t see Mastiff Bats when I tried Coral Gables in January this year. I don’t know anyone in St Croix but this link is promising for people to talk to. Bat biologists are usually super friendly and delighted to try to help raise bats public image


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