Stores have stocked their scary sections, homes have donned their daunting decor, and people have created their creepy costumes. Halloween is here and the haunts have begun. Among ghouls, goblins and ghosts, we often see some of our wildlife critters thrown into the “monster” mix, such as snakes, spiders and bats.
While some aspects of Halloween are quite haunting, our wildlife is not to be feared. Certain species are deemed as “scary” or “creepy,” but these connotations can often hinder the protection and safety of wildlife. In taking a further look, we can see that these critters are not so spooky after all.
There are around 50 species of native snakes in Florida, but only six of these are venomous. Nonvenomous snakes might still bite, generally only when provoked, but their bites are harmless so there is nothing to truly fear. Venomous snakes do have a more vicious bite, but encounters between venomous snakes and humans are quite rare as most snakes are just as afraid of humans as we are of them! If you spot a snake, the best thing to do is give them their space so they do not feel threatened and can slither away.
Some species of spiders may look a little creepy, but these critters are not so bad. For example, the golden silk orb weaver is the largest spider species in Florida and looks a bit frightening. However, these spiders craft gorgeous golden webs that shine in the sun. Plus, spiders are excellent at pest control and keep many unwanted insects out of your way — without you even knowing!
Yes, vampire bats are real, but they do not live in Florida! Florida has 13 recognized native bat species, with some being common across the state and others living in small areas or migrating throughout the year. These flying mammals are insectivores and eat plenty of moths, flies, ants, mosquitoes and more — some bats can even eat their body weight in insects each night. Additionally, bat guano, or droppings, contains a lot of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, making it a great fertilizer to aid plant growth.