I've talked a lot about my wife's quest to see wild alligators while we were in Florida, but I was looking for a different animal when we traveled through the Florida Keys...
This is a Key Deer, and it's just about the cutest thing you're ever going to see. They're kind of like a mini-deer, growing only to a maximum of 30 inches tall and weighing about the same as my neighbors cat (About 50-60 pounds. It's a really big cat!). Only found in the Florida Keys, there's just 500-800 of them left in the world, making them a very endangered species.
Do you want to know why they're an endangered species? It's because they think they own the freakin' place! We figured that the best place to find Key Deer would be in the 8,500 acre Key Deer Refuge (makes sense right?) at the north end of Big Pine Key, so we went up there and hiked around. Nothing.
We were told that Key Deer were often found around the Blue Hole, so we went there. Nothing.
We gave up and went for lunch at the No Name Pub. Jackpot! Key Deer everywhere. On the road. In people's front yard. Leading parades of traffic down the main street. You couldn't miss them, although you're legally required to make sure you do if you're driving.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that their endangered species status can be entirely blamed on their habit of leaping from the bushes to the side of the road, forcing you to slam on your brakes, and then giving you a look of "Ahem. Key Deer crossing here." If my kids did that to me they wouldn't be endangered, they'd be extinct.
If you're in the Florida Keys, stop by Big Pine Key and look around for some Key Deer. You probably won't have to look too hard, but if you're having trouble finding some, try Tropical Bay Estates. I hear they like to hang out there in the summer.
This post is a part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby and Friday Daydreamin at R We There Yet Mom. If you didn't get here from one of those sites, you should really go check them out. There's people there who wouldn't have bothered going to the Key Deer Refuge, they would have just gone straight to the pub. Actually, there's probably a lot of those people.
Written by Steve Pratt