Florida March 2018

Last March we visited Florida for 3 weeks, starting in the Maimi/Homestead area, spend a few days on The Keys and travelling along the westcoast north all the way up to Crystal River and Ocala Forest. I am working on a true tripreport, but since that will take a while I would like to share some mammal notes.


  1. Virginia OpossumDidelphis virginiana
    3.2018 (27.174, -82.463) – one seen very well during a night walk in Oscar Scherer State Park along the nature trail close tot he visitor centre.
  2. Florida Manatee – Trichochechus manatus latirostris
    The species I wanted to see most, so we have added a few places where we see them for sure:
    3.2018 (25.141, -80.924) – unexpected yet, but 6 individuals were feeding at the sewage drain of the (former?) visitor centre in Flamingo, Everglades National Park;
    25.3.2018 (27.793, -82.403) – at least 30 at the known site by the Big Bend Power Station, near Adamsville;
    27.3.2018 (28.888, -82.590) – unequalled views in Crystal River, where we joined a Birds Underwater tour (office at 28.899142, -82.596440) snorkling with these magnificent creatures.
  3. Southern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys volans
    Unexpected but seen twice:
    18.3.2018 (26.437, -81.817) – one feeding in trees above camping spot 21 of Koreshan State Historic Park;
    24.3.2018 (27.174, -82.463) – one seen during a night walk in Oscar Scherer State Park along the nature trail close tot he visitor centre.
  4. Eastern Grey SquirrelSciurus carolinensis
    Everywhere, seen almost daily.
  5. Eastern Fox SquirrelSciurus niger shermani
    Thoughed this would be more common, but seen only once:
    3.2018 – running over a fence parallel on the road somewhere between Dunnelan and Ocala.
  6. Eastern Wood RatNeotoma floridana
    3.2018 (27.174, -82.463) – one seen during a night walk in Oscar Scherer State Park along the nature trail.
  7. Hispid Cotton RatSigmodon hispidus
    3.2018 (27.173, -82.464) – during breakfast in front of the tent in Oscar Scherer State Park.
  8. RabbitOryctolagus cuniculus
    21.3.2018 – 2 escaped feral Rabbits at Shady Acress Camp Site near Fort Myers.
  9. Eastern CottontailSylvilagus floridanus
    Seen on several occasions north of Fort Myers. 7 observations in total.
  10. Marsh RabbitSylvilagus palustris
    Didn’t find any on the Loop Road in Big Cypress National Park. As that was our only prepared site, we were glad we did see this species on 2 occasions:
    20.3.2018 (26.416, -81.902) – 1 feeding at the seaside lawn of Wyndham Garden in Fort Myers Beach;
    24.3.2018 (27.318, -82.440) – 1 in some high grass at the ‘dyke’-section of Celery Fields Park in Sarasota (park at Raymond Rd).
  11. Everglades Short-Tailed ShrewBlarina (carolinensis) peninsulae
    3.2018 (25.943, -81.263) – 1 caught by a Red-Shouldered Hawk in Big Cypress National Preserve, gave some good views through the binoculars. This (sub)species based on distribution.
  12. BobcatLynx rufus
    3.2018 (25.820, -81.102) – We had a eyeshine in the headlights of our car and some fresh Bobcat-droppings on that same spot at the Loop Rd in Big Cypress NP.
  13. American Black BearUrsus americanus floridanus
    3.2018 – Our main reason to put Ocala National Forest in our itinerary. We asked at a ranger station in Ocala Forest if there were any recent sightings. The ranger did not only told us that there were not, he also told us that it was highly unlikely for us to see one, but if we would like to push our luck we should try the northern half of the forest, since there were much less people in that section. Since we were going there anyway in search for Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, we decided to give at a try and stayed till dark. A good call as it turned out that we did not only see 1, but 2 different Bears! The first turned up in our rear-view-mirror when we stopped for a Rattlesnake along the FR-70, somewhere around 29.472, -81.832. The second observation was just one turn away feeding along the FR-66, vanishing in the bushes when it appeared in our headlights, probably somewhere around 29.453, -81.860.
  14. Northern RaccoonProcyon lotor
    3.2018 (25.115, -80.416) – 3 around our tent at Key Largo Kampground & Marina at night.
    21.3.2018 (26.489, -81.152) – a family pack of 7 crossed the road at Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area near Immokalee.
  15. White-Tailed DeerOdocoileus virginianus
    We saw Key Deer v. clavium at Big Pine Key Campsite, and some dozens at Big Pine Key, probably most around 24.683, -81.353, on 13.3.2018. O. v. seminolus was quite common north of Big Cypress, most common at the Wildlife Management Areas east of Immokalee and in Ocala Forest (only during night drives).
  16. Common Bottlenosed DolphinTursiops truncatus
    22.3.2018 (26.455, -82.016) – 2 were joining the fisherman on the fishing pier of Sanibel Island;
    26.3.2018 (28.907, -82.692) – 2 swimming north seen of Fort Island Beach near Crystal River.

Rick van der Weijde,
The Netherlands


  • Jon Hall

    You did really well with the mammals! Well done and look forward to the full report. Jon

  • Andrew Block

    Nice mammals. Glad to know Oscar Shearer is good for them. I was there for scrub jays but didn’t see any mammals during the day. Not surprising about the fox squirrels since they are not that common in FL. I’ve been going there for years and only seen 2 or 3. Most of those nocturnal mammals I used to see regularly in Everglades NP back in the 90’s and early 2000’s but the pythons have since wiped most of them out. That is why you didn’t see them there. I remember seeing marsh rabbits, raccoons, possums, a few bobcats, foxes, and the occasional armadillo and skunk along the main roads. No more:-(

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