We all know of Florida as the sunshine state. Chances are you imagine an airboat tour with the hot sun beating down on your face, the light dancing and glistening on the water as fish leap into the air to catch insects and birds soar through cloudless blue skies. But what happens when the sun goes down?
You may not have realized it, but a number of the unique and intriguing animals of the Everglades are nocturnal, meaning that they become active at night and sleep during the day. Amphibians and reptiles, in particular, are very sensitive to the heat of the sun, making the evening hours ideal for activity. As the sun starts to set, you’re sure to hear the croaks of Pig Frogs and see a few mangrove marsh snakes slithering around.
A number of animals are specially equipped to hunt at night, as well. The owls of the Everglades, most often barred owls or horned owls, have large eyes that are adapted to collect and process light, even in seemingly pitch black areas. With their pupils enlarged, they can swoop down on unsuspecting prey and bring it to their nests for themselves and their young.
There are a few mammals thriving in the Everglades that come awake at night, as well. Bobcats are a great example of a nocturnal mammal. These well-known cats have special membranes in their eyes called tapetums that help reflect and intensify light at night. The Everglades mink is another example of a nocturnal mammal. This weasel-like creature is extremely agile and remains low to the ground to stalk prey.
Finally, even certain species of plants are considered nocturnal. The cutleaf evening primrose, for example, opens its flowers in the evening and closes them up at the break of dawn. Though you may think they wouldn’t survive without opening to absorb the sun’s rays, by opening at night they are able to attract bats, moths, and other nocturnal pollinators.
The Everglades becomes a whole new world at night. To give you a firsthand glimpse of the nocturnal creatures of the Everglades, Wild Florida offers exciting nighttime airboat tours. Visit our website, or call us at (866) 532-7167 to learn more!