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© Steve Vaughn/Panoramic Images (Florida Title Image Large)

Featured Animals in Florida

Florida supports an extraordinary diversity of animals. With roughly 700 species of freshwater and land vertebrates, and an even larger number of invertebrates and marine species, Florida is among the most biologically rich states in the U.S. Centuries of changes wrought upon the Florida landscape by humans, however, have placed many of these animals, including some that occur nowhere else, in dire jeopardy. Consequently, 111 species of corals, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals have been formally recognized by the state and federal governments as of critical conservation concern (Endangered, Threatened, or Species of Special Concern). Still other species face equal or greater threats to their survival but remain unrepresented on legal lists.

Notable Florida Animals

  • Gopher Tortoise

    The only true land tortoise living east of the Mississippi River, the gopher tortoise shares kinship with three desert-dwelling species of the western U.S. and Mexico. Florida comprises more than half of the species' remaining range, which extends from Louisiana to South Carolina and down to Cape Sable at the tip of the peninsula.

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  • Florida Scrub-Jay

    The Florida scrub-jay, recognized in 1995 as a distinct species from the scrub-jays in the western United States, is the only bird species whose entire range is restricted to Florida. This species inhabits fire-dominated oak scrub habitat found on well-drained sandy soils in the Florida peninsula. Since Florida scrub-jays are both habitat-specific and sedentary, the species is dependent on the preservation of quality scrub communities for its continued existence.

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  • Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

    Florida is the global hotspot for the red-cockaded woodpecker -- listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- but increasing fragmentation and incompatible management of appropriate habitat is a cause for continuing concern.

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  • West Indian Manatee

    The West Indian Manatee is a large, gray, nearly hairless, walrus-like aquatic mammal. Adults may reach more than 10 feet in length and weigh more than 1200 lbs. Manatees are found in Florida's coastal waters, bays, rivers, and (occasionally) lakes where they feed on aquatic plants. During cold weather, they require warm-water refuges such as springs.

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