Wildlife and Habitat

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J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is teeming with wildlife. The refuge contains some of the most nutritionally rich habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals in an intricate food web.

  • Birds

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    There are over 245 different species of birds that call the refuge "home". It is famous worldwide for its spectacular migratory bird populations.

    Learn more about our beautiful birds 

  • Mammals

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    As you venture through the refuge, keep your eyes out for mammals as big as a manatee surfacing the top of the water or as little as a rat scurrying through the leaves.

    Discover our mammals 

  • Reptiles

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    Watch for movement on the water's surface or through the brush on the forest floors. The reptiles at the Refuge are great at camouflage and can be very sneaky.

    Identify our reptiles 

  • Amphibians

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    The amphibians that we have here at the Refuge consist of frogs and toads. Listen for their calls and try to distinguish which ones are around you.

    See our amphibians 

  • Fish

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    Seagrass beds and mangrove forests serve as shelter, nursery, and feeding areas for many fish and other marine organisms at the Refuge.

    Find out which fish call the Refuge home 

  • Invertebrates

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    Classified as animal species without a backbone, invertebrates at the Refuge can be found on mangrove trees, building webs, and flying around you.

    Check out these backbone-less species 

  • Endangered Species

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    The refuge was initially created to help protect endangered and threatened species on Sanibel Island. With the ongoing efforts of our conservationists, you are able to see many of these species today.

    Explore our endangered species 

  • Habitats

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    The refuge is located within an estuary, which creates some of the most nutritionally rich habitat for thousands of species of plants and animals. The extensive mangrove forests and productive seagrass beds provide the basis of their intricate food web. 

    Learn about our habitats 

  • Invasive and Non-Native Species

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    A non-native invasive species is a plant or animal that is not native to an ecosystem and is likely to cause harmful effects to the environment or humans. There are many non-native invasive species of plants and animals on the Refuge.

    Find out what these species are