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 refuges.
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.