• The Florida panther's steely gaze - NPS/RALPH ARWOOD

    Big Cypress

    National Preserve Florida

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  • Secondary Trail Closure

    Effective 8/1/2014, following the 60-day recreational ORV closure, only the designated primary trails in the backcountry will be open to recreational ORV use and access. All secondary trails will remain closed on an interim basis for an additional 60-days More »

  • Interstate 75 Mile Marker 63 Closure

    Beginning summer of 2013, the rest area and backcountry access at Mile Marker 63 will be closed due to construction. More »

Prairies

Prairies, whether they're "wet" or "dry" based more on what plant species grow there than on the actual amount of water present. Wet prairies occur on mineral soils that are covered with water about 50-150 days per year. The water rarely gets any deeper than about 20 centimeters even in the wettest of seasons.

Wet prairies usually burn at least once during a five year period. Without fire, woody plants would push out the prairie plant species. This would in turn cause prairie mammals and birds to lose their habitat.

Prairie Panoramic View

 

PERIPHYTON

Periphyton is a complex mixture of algae, microbes, and detritus that creates a thick mat on the ground of the prairies. It is a common part of the vegetation in wet prairies that are healthy and is an important link in the wet prairie food chain. It can be over four centimeters thick on the prairie floor. Periphyton is eaten by a variety of flies, snails, fish, tadpoles and zooplankton.

During the rainy season, tadpoles and insect larvae hatch in prairies becoming a wade-thru for many wading birds, reptiles and amphibians to eat at.

Watch and learn as a park ranger explains more about Periphyton.

 
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Periphyton
 

MARSH RABBIT

Marsh rabbits are found in this area looking for food. They are herbivores that eat grasses, leaves and bulbs. The marsh rabbit has shorter ears, hind legs, and tail than the eastern cottontail rabbit that can also be found in Florida. Marsh rabbits walk instead of hop and can even swim!

The rabbit swims to move to other places to forage for food and to avoid predators.

 
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Marsh rabbit
 

Journey in to the cypress swamp to see what secrets it holds.

Did You Know?

Researchers gather data from a bear that was removed as a nuisance.

Do not feed wildlife within the preserve. A "fed bear is a dead bear." This bear was fed and eventually became a threat to visitor safety. Nuisance wildlife is sometimes removed, but typically does not survive.