Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to many common, and some not so common questions asked by our visitors. If you feel we've left one out, please let us know!
NATURE -- FLORA & FAUNA
How many Florida panthers exist in the wild?
What is the difference between an American alligator and an American crocodile?
Both are large reptilians that can be found in south Florida, the only place in the world where the animals coexist. Primarily alligators are found in freshwater habitats and crocodiles in coastal estuaries (they are better at expelling salt from the water).
Other differences include their coloration, alligators are black while crocodiles tend to be an olive green. Finally, the main way to tell the difference is by the shapes of their snouts. Alligators have a blunt "U" shaped nose while crocodiles have a more pointed "A" shaped nose.
Do you feed the alligators? Why are there so many here?
Some areas of the Preserve, such as the Oasis Visitor Center are a natural draw to alligators due to the ideal habitat for them, especially during the dry season's which is typically from December through May. Find a fact sheet here.
What areas are good for wildlife viewing?
Should I be concerned about venomous snakes? Alligators? Toxic plants?
Despite their fearsome appearance, alligators are normally wary of people; unprovoked attacks on humans are rare. Alligators can become habituated to people and may become more aggressive. Prevent this by not feeding alligators, it is illegal to do so within Florida. As with all wild animals, it is necessary to keep a safe distance.
Certain local plants, some found nowhere else in the US, contain toxins which can cause skin reactions if contacted. If you plan to leave the trails, learn how to identify poison ivy, poisonwood, manchineel, and other poisonous plants.
What's that big black bird I see swimming and diving in the water? Why do they bask in the sun with their wings outstretched?
Unlike the feathers of other birds, the cormorant and anhinga have a minimal coating of oil that repels water. The minimal amount of oil allows them to be less buoyant and better able to dive and catch prey. In order to dry off after hunting, they must later sun themselves with their wings outstretched. They also do this to warm their bodies after swimming in cool water. Find a fact sheet here.
Why are all the trees dead?
I've seen references to "strands" and "hammocks." What are they?
A hammock is a raised "island" of hardwood trees that rise from peat deposits or limestone outcrops. Here, where pines and hardwoods have been able to colonize, their roots penetrate the underlying crevices and break up the rocks, creating, or enlarging openings in the cap-rock beneath and thereby perpetuating the hammock.
What is Big Cypress National Preserve? Why is it important?
The preserve also protects the customary use and occupancy by the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida as well as a variety of traditional recreational activities enjoyed by many.
When was Big Cypress National Preserve established?
October 11, 1974
How can I become a volunteer at Big Cypress National Preserve?
With over 30,000 hours of annual volunteer service, Big Cypress National Preserve has an active volunteer program! Volunteers participate in a variety of positions, including maintenance, resource management, education and outreach, and visitor services. For more information, click here.
How did the "Tamiami Trail" get its name? When was it built?
The name is a contraction of Tampa to Miami. The road was completed in 1928. The canal alongside the highway results from the excavation; soil and rock were taken from the canal to elevate the adjacent roadway above the normal water table. Built before the days of environmental awareness, the highway has a significant hydrologic impact: It constitutes a dam, or barrier, that obstructs the gradual southerly flow of water. Look closely, and you'll see differences in the landscape north and south of the road as a result of the available moisture.
Where can I bring my dog into Big Cypress National Preserve?
For the safety of your pet and wildlife, dogs and other pets are required to be on a 6-foot leash. Your pet is allowed in the campgrounds, picnic areas, around buildings, such as the Oasis Visitor Center and Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, and parking areas. Be in control of your pet at all times and be aware of your surroundings.