7 Cool Facts You Didn't Know About 7 Amazing Florida Animals
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Politics and Activism

7 Cool Facts You Didn't Know About 7 Amazing Florida Animals

How well do you know your outdoor neighbors?

7 Cool Facts You Didn't Know About 7 Amazing Florida Animals
Michael Liao

Florida is known for a lot of things—Disney, Universal, Daytona Beach, Miami—but we are also home to an amazingly diverse ecosystem that houses some seriously cool animals.

1. Manatees have toenails.

Manatees depend on the warmth of Florida's waters for survival and are considered an endangered species. Most Floridians are familiar with this oddly adorable marine animal, but the majestic manatee has an odd addition you may not know about—three or four nails on their flippers. Manatees share a common ancestor with the elephant and their similar toenails are one of the pieces of evidence for their evolutionary relationship. Mani(tee) pedi, anyone?

2. Over 1.3 million alligators call Florida home.

Ah, our beloved state reptile. If you live in Florida, chances are you've seen an alligator at some point—on the side of the road, in your neighborhood's pond, on your porch, wherever. It's estimated that at least 1.3 million alligators live in Florida, but there could be more. Compare that to the 21 million people that also call the Sunshine State home and you have a recipe for common encounters with our favorite 9-foot reptile.

3. There are crocodiles in the Everglades.

Crikey! Crocodiles? You may have heard about the Nile crocodiles found in the Everglades a couple of years ago. Right up there with the Burmese python (which is still a known, established threat), Nile crocodiles would be a killer invasive species for Florida's unique ecosystem and for us. Fortunately, the foreign crocodiles seem to have been an isolated event so far. There are, however, still crocodiles in the Everglades—American crocodiles. This is the only place where alligators and crocodiles share a home. They can be distinguished from their alligator neighbor by their lighter skin, narrower snout and larger size. While these living dinosaurs are definitely dangerous, they are much shyer and less aggressive than their overseas cousins (phew!).

4. Flamingos are Floridians.

Florida has been associated with the famous pink bird for years, but there has been a long-standing belief that flamingos were hunted out of Florida during the 19th century. Any flamingos found here were assumed to be non-native escapees from captive populations. A team of South Florida researchers has recently disputed this "fact" and has put forth evidence that flamingos are, in fact, Floridians!

5. Florida panther attacks are so rare, they pretty much have never happened.

The Florida panther is one of the most endangered mammals on our planet and is now mostly confined to south Florida. Despite their size, power, and need for territory, there are no verified incidents of Florida panthers attacking their human neighbors. Livestock, on the other hand, is a different story.

6. Shark migration is terrifyingly awesome.

Florida has a lot of coastlines, which means that we have a lot of sharks. Depending on how you feel about these powerful animals, it's freakin' awesome or freakin' terrifying. Maybe both. One shark, in particular, draws a watchful eye from humans as they migrate in the thousands every year along Florida's east coast in search of food and warm water during mid-January to mid-March.

7. Dolphins use echolocation.

Dolphins are a family-favorite and for good reason. They're adorable, intelligent, playful and friendly. But they share a secret superpower with bats - echolocation. Water can get murky and sunlight gets filtered out, causing some serious blind spots. With echolocation, dolphins can still navigate, communicate and hunt. Seriously, they're amazing. While dolphins aren't secluded to Florida, we have some of the best spots to watch or encounter these magical marine mammals.

Honorable mentions: Florida bats, black bears, sea turtles, right whales and all the birds (shout out to the scrub jay).

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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