Over 30 state and federally listed animal species
can be found in the habitats protected by the Florida Keys Wildlife
and Environmental Area. Many of these species are found nowhere
else and include the Lower Keys marsh rabbit, Key Largo cotton
mouse, silver rice rat, key deer, Big Pine ring-necked snake,
Florida Keys mole skink, Lower Keys striped mud turtle, Stock
Island tree snail, and Schaus swallowtail butterfly.
Randy Grau - Liguus tree snail
Often called "the living jewel of tropical hardwood
hammocks," the Liguus tree snail is found in the United States only
in tropical hardwood hammocks of extreme southern Florida and the
Keys. Florida's population of snails may have descended from snails
floating over on logs from Cuba or Hispaniola. More than 50 color
forms with varying whorls of pink, green, yellow, orange, and brown
evolved in the isolated hammocks of Florida. Some color forms have
become extinct from overcollecting and loss of habitat.
Areas suitable for wildlife viewing may be
available in the future. Currently nearby, accessible sites for
wildlife viewing as well as for hiking and other recreational
activities are found in areas managed by Department
of Environmental Protection, Division of Recreation and Parks,
in local city and county parks, and in national wildlife
Wildlife Spotlight: Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Lower Keys marsh rabbit, a subspecies of the
marsh rabbit, was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in 1990, six years after biologist James Lazell
determined that rabbit differed from marsh rabbits in the Upper
Keys. The Lower Keys marsh rabbit's scientific name
is Sylvilagus palustris hefneri in honor of Hugh
Hefner whose Playboy Corporation helped finance Lazell's research.
The future of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit is threatened by loss of
habitat, predation by house cats, and road mortality.