Critter identification

On any given visit, you will see a multitude of critters that call Oakland Nature Preserve home. We sell Identification Guides in our Museum for the most common groups of animals in Florida, and here are some additional resources to help make identification easier. 

Great Horned Owl,  Bubo virginianus , spotted on the Green Trail at Oakland Nature Preserve

Great Horned Owl, Bubo virginianus, spotted on the Green Trail at Oakland Nature Preserve



This free app offers quick Bird Identification for beginning and intermediate bird watchers.

Another useful app, eBird, lets users record a particular bird’s song, which is analyzed and then identifies the bird, confirming the identification by showing a map of that particular bird’s range.

More than 130 birds call Oakland Nature Preserve home! 

Best times for birdwatching are early morning and an hour before sunset. 


A user friendly, step-by-step process to identify any snakes you may see in Florida can be found here

Remember, all snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem, keeping rodent and other pest populations under control.

Florida only has six species of venomous snakes, out of the 44 species found state-wide, so any snake you encounter are most likely nonvenomous. 

There are lots of resources to learn the differences between venomous and nonvenomous snakes, Click here to learn about Florida's Nonvenomous Snakes, and here to learn about Florida's Venomous Snakes.  

Black Racer Snake,  Coluber constrictor priapus,  on the boardwalk

Black Racer Snake, Coluber constrictor priapus, on the boardwalk

Zebra Longwing Butterfly,  Heliconius charithonia   ,   on Spanish Needles

Zebra Longwing Butterfly, Heliconius charithonia, on Spanish Needles

Florida red-bellied cooter,  Pseudemys nelsoni , enjoying the view of Lake Apopka

Florida red-bellied cooter, Pseudemys nelsoni, enjoying the view of Lake Apopka

butterflies, Dragonflies and other insects

Florida is home to almost 200 species of butterflies!

Click here to use the characteristics you see to make a definitive butterfly or Moth ID, and/or users can register for a free account-and send a photo in here and get a reply for identification here

A visit to our Pollinator Garden at Oakland Nature Preserve won't disappoint! 

To identify dragonflies, this is an easy photo-match resource




Herps! (Amphibians & Reptiles) 

To identify frogs, Click here for an easy to use photo-match resource

To identify lizards Click here 

To identify turtles and terrapins, Click here

Visitors are sometimes disappointed when they don’t see mammals on their visit to ONP. Remember, most wild animals are quiet and resting in a hiding place during midday hours and are primarily active at duck and dawn. Even though they are difficult to see, they do leave evidence of their presence in the form of tracks, pawprints, and scat (feces). By learning to read the signs that these animals leave behind, you will increase your chance of spotting them. The best time to look for animal tracks is early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun casts shadows in the tracks. Also, after a heavy rain, damp soils create a clean slate for fresh tracks that can retain their shape for several days.

Check out this guide from Florida Wildlife Commission showing the prints of some of Florida’s most common animals:

There are also books you can buy that identify Florida species. Check out the website catalogs of Pineapple Press and University Press of Florida.