Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Friday, July 30, 2010

Critter of the Week Aug 2: Brazilian free-tailed bat

I LOVE BATS! Have I told you guys... I ADORE BATS!
Now people fear these little flying mammals because of so much misinformation "flying" around. But if this world had no bats, there would be far fewer species of plants and WAY more insects chomping on us at night! This picture was taken by my good friend Jennifer Beltran at emergence time of Bracken Cave. Bracken Cave is located in Texas and is the largest concentration of mammals on earth. Seen here is a Brazilian free-tailed bat which is a common resident of Florida. This species has a scent gland. The gland, located at throat base, secretes a strong musky odor. The odor reminds me of Fritos chips actually! You can smell a colony of these bats! They are commonly found roosting in manmade structures such as bridges, stadiums, attics, barrel tile roofs, etc. They are likely candidates for bat houses as well. The Florida population roosting behavior varies from populations in the central and southwestern United States.
These high fast flyers forage on insects such as moths, flies, and beetles and are known to be great controllers of agriculural pests in certain areas of the country.
For more information...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Critter of the Week July 19: Bald Eagle

Sorry not to do my own write-up but I am not feeling well this evening. For more information about Florida's bald eagles...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Critter of the Week July 12: Northern River Otter

One of my favorite animals to watch at Panther Island is the northern river otter. This species is a member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) which also includes minks, ferrets, martens, skunks, weasels, badgers, and wolverines. There are 16 species of Mustelids in North America (north of Mexico). All Mustelids have a pair of scent glands near their tail. Northern river otters use them to mark territory. But in skunks these are highly developed! These semi-aquatic mammals have long streamlined bodies supported on land by short legs ending in completely webbed feet with claws and thick tapered tails. They can close their nostrils underwater, and another adaptation is thick dense fur for insulation in the water where they can actually hold their breath for up to 4 minutes and reach speeds of 6 mph! Their whiskers are super sensitive so they can sense prey even in murky waters. They are found in canals, marshes, swamps, rivers, streams, lakes, and estuaries where they forage on a variety of aquatic critters like frogs, fish, turtles, crabs, crayfish, and more.

To learn more about northern river otters click here!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Update from Corkscrew!

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the endangered Ghost Orchid. And once again it is in full bloom! Come visit us!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Critter of the Week for July 5: Banded Sphinx Moth

The caterpillars for the banded sphinx moth are large and beautiful! Primrose-willow and other plants in the evening primrose family (Onagraceae) are the host plants for the caterpillars of this species. The caterpillars are also extremely variable (both photos above are banded sphinx moth caterpillars). Note the similar black dots and white banding. Their range extends from northern Argentina northward to the southern United States. Once the caterpillars have matured, they descend from the host plant and can into shallow subterranean burrows where they pupate. In butterfly and moth terminology, a "flight" is a generation of adults. The Florida population has several flights in a year. Adults forage on the nectar of a variety of flowers under cover of night. Sphinx moths are often referred to a hawk moths. This is due to their strong flying and hovering abilities. These moths can almost get speeds up to 25 mph!  For photos of the adult moth go to...