Cypress swamps occur in the humid southeastern United States. Named for their significant tree, the bald cypress, these freshwater wetlands are often wetter in winter and spring, and drier in summer and fall. Visitors to this exhibit area can see cougars, ducks, alligators, turtles, frogs, and snakes.
Although they may not look like it, alligators are more closely related to birds than to lizards. Birds and alligators have muscular gizzards and four-chambered hearts. Alligators also have territorial “songs,” build nests, and tend to their eggs, much like birds.
This secretive feline is also known as the puma, panther, catamount, and mountain lion. Cougars are fast sprinters, skilled climbers and can leap 18-23 feet. Cougars once roamed throughout most of North America, but have virtually disappeared east of the Mississippi River. Habitat loss and hunting have restricted the eastern survivors, believed to number fewer than 50, to the swamps of southern Florida.
North American Ducks
Look closely in the ponds to see a variety of ducks, including buffleheads, canvasbacks, blue-winged teals, wood ducks and hooded mergansers.
These reptiles have a bony shell that covers their body. While many live near water, turtles can’t breathe underwater–they hold their breath. The Cypress Swamp exhibits yellow-bellied sliders, chicken turtles, spotted turtles, river cooters and alligator snapping turtles.
These cold-blooded animals typically have four legs, lay eggs in the water, and metamorphose from a water-breathing juvenile to an air-breathing adult. Frogs, toads, newts and salamanders are all amphibians. Here you will find spotted salamanders, white-spotted salamanders, red salamanders and green tree frogs among others.
Did you know that these scaly reptiles are beneficial animals? Snakes eat small animals like rodents, which can carry diseases. Many people have a lot of misconceptions about snakes, so take a few minutes at Cypress Swamp to learn about the yellow rat snake and the Louisiana pine snake.