Florida’s Wildlife

Here at Welcome Homes USA we want your stay to be a safe stay! This is information worth knowing whilst in Central Florida and staying at one of our lovely Condos or Homes.

INSECTS
Florida is notorious for its prolific insect life, and for this reason your holiday home with Welcome Homes USA is treated both inside and outside on a regular basis. Therefore, to make your stay more comfortable, please do not leave food or drink on counter tops, in wash baskets and specially on the pool deck, and avoid leaving dirty or damp clothes laying around. If you are not doing these recommendations, you are inviting these “uninvited guests” to come into your home. Please do not leave doors and windows open this increases insect infestation and prevent the A/C from working efficiently.

WATCH OUT
There are different animals that you have to be aware of: Snakes, Alligators and Spiders.

Snakes
There are 45 species of snakes found in florida, but there are only 6 venomous. Here are some that are venomous and non-venomous that you may encounter.

Coral Snake-VENOMOUS
They are quite secretive and are usually found under debris and in the ground but occasionally they are found in the open and have even been seen climbing the trunks of live Oaks. Good numbers of them are exposed when pine flat wood are bulldozed, particularly in south Florida

If you see what you think is a coral snake, remember this saying “if red touches yellow, it can kill a fellow (coral snake): if red touches black, it is a friend of Jack (Scarlet kingsnake, or scarlet snake).

coral snake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake-VENOMOUS
Diamondbacks are often found in pine flat woods, longleaf pine and turkey oak and sand pine scrub areas. These habitats contain palmetto thickets and gopher tortoise burrows in which the diamondback may seek refuge. Humans had invaded many of the florida’s pine flat woods and scrub areas which now contain farms, homes and shopping plazas. As a result, the displaced diamondbacks sometimes turn up in backyards, golf courses, and even parking lots.

This is a large impressive and potentially dangerous snake, it can strike up to 2/3 its body length: a 6 foot specimen may strike 4 foot. These factors, as well as others, make this snake that should be left alone.
diamondback

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin-VENOMOUS
Cottonmouths are found in any wetland or waterways, although they occasionally wander far from water, and have been found in bushes and trees. Their bites can be quite dangerous. The victim should seek immediate medical care from a physician or hospital experienced in treating snakebite. The dangerous semi-aquatic snake is truly an aggressive reptile that will stand its ground or even approach an intruder.

cotonmouth

Alligators
Alligators our found in freshwater swamps and marshes, rivers, lakes and small bodies of water. Alligators near human habitation are often seen crossing roads, entering suburbs and finding shelter in swimming pools during the drier months. In some areas, increasing alligator population creates problems with humans on the edge of alligator habitat, and “nuisance alligator” programs are required to deal with them. These involve catching and roaming animals which have roamed too far into human habitation, or which pose a potential threat to people.

Alligator

FEEDING ALLIGATORS IS ILLEGAL IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA!

Spiders
Brown Widow-VENOMOUS
It is primarily found in Florida, it is Venomous and has a neurotoxin like the black widow, although it injects less venom than the black widow. All widows can be identified by the red-hor glass shape on their abdomen.

brown widow

Black Widow-VENOMOUS
Black widow bites are sharp, painful and venomous; the victim should go to the doctorimmediately for treatment. To control the black widow, carefully remove all materials where they might hise. This can be cleaned out of an area simply by knocking down the webs, spiders and round tan egg sacs with a stick and crushing them underfoot.

black widow

Brown recluse spider-VENOMOUS
The most recognized feature of the Brown Recluse Spider is its violin pattern on the cephalothorax or in other words te location of the top side of the spider near the head. the Recluse Spider’s bite has the effect of creating a scar around the portion of the bite as venom destroys the tissue and attacks the muscle, also called the flesh-eating spider. Immediate medical attention is required when bitten.

Driving in Florida

Here at Welcome Homes USA we want to make sure you travel to and from your day trips safe and sound.  Some traffic rules and regulations here in Florida may be unfamiliar to visitors from abroad and it is worth acquainting  yourself with some of these laws to make your journeys stress free.

Check this website for more information about VISITOR TOOL PASS

TRAFFIC LIGHT

  • If you are wondering why you are getting the odd motorist giving you a gentle ‘bib’ at lights, it is worth knowing that you can turn right on a red traffic light if the way is clear, unless there is a sign displaying ‘NO TURN ON RED’

No turn on red sign

  • A red arrow is just like a red light, you may turn right if the way is clear.
  • A yellow arrow means traffic in that direction will soon get a red arrow to stop, but a left flashing yellow arrow means left turns are allowed but yield to oncoming traffic who have a green light!
  • A flashing red light is the same as a stop, it is just emphasizing the intersection is a dangerous one so keep an extra eye out!
  • A flashing yellow light means proceed with caution, and is used just before dangerous intersections or to alert you to a warning sign such as a school crossing or sharp curve.
  • A yellow cross means the lane signal is going to change to a red cross and you must leave the lane.

If you see red reflectors (cats eyes) facing you in the lane lines, you are on the wrongs side of the road! Move over immediately.  If you see red reflectors on the lines on the edge of the road you are on the wrong freeway ramp.  Pull over immediately! Red reflectors always mean you are facing the traffic the wrong way and could have a head-on collision.

SPEED LIMITS – FLORIDA  ‘STANDARD’

Municipal speed areas –                 30MPH
Business or residential areas –     30MPH
Rural Interstate –                             70 MPH (if posted)
Limited access highways –             70MPH
All other roads and highways  –   55 MPH
School zones  –                                 20 MPH

You can be issued a ticket for driving too slowly! When the posted speed limit is 70 mph, the minimum speed if 50mph!

On a two way street or highway, all drivers moving in either direction must stop for a stopped school bus which is picking up or dropping off children.  You must remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway ad the bus’ stop arm is withdrawn.

If the highway is divided by a raised barrier or an unpaved median at least five feet wide, you do not have to stop if you are moving in the opposite direction of the bus.  Painted lines or pavement markings are not considered barriers.  You must always stop if you are moving in the same direction as the bus and you must remain stopped until the bus stop arm is withdrawn.

TRAFFIC LAWS

All children five years of age or younger must use a restraint device when traveling in a motor vehicle and always secured in the rear seat.  Infant carriers or children’s car seats must be used for children up to three years of age.  For children aged four through five, a separate carrier, an integrated child seat or a seat belt may be used.

The Move Over Law dictates that when police, emergency workers and tow-truck drivers are stopped along a roadway, on a two lane roadway, you must slow to a speed that is 20 MPH less than the posted speed limit.  If you are traveling on a road with multiple lanes in the same direction and you approach these vehicles/workers, you must vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as it is safe to do so.  If it is not safe to do so you must slow to 20 MPH below the posted speed limit.  You may receive a fine and points if you violate this law.

When there are two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, it is legal to pass on the right in Florida (undertaking to us Brits), so keep an extra eye out when moving back into the right lane.

No one has the right of way in Florida!  The law only states who must give up the right of way.  Every driver, motorcyclist, moped rider, bicyclist and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a crash.

STOP SIGNS Always come to a complete stop at the marked stop line.  If there is no stop line, stop before entering the crosswalk on the nearside intersection.  At a 4-Way stop sign traffic from all four directions must stop.  The first vehicle to reach the intersection should move forward first.  If two vehicles reach the intersection at the same time, the driver on the left yields to the driver on the right.
Stop sign

DRINKING AND DRIVING

Florida has tough policies on drink driving.  Persons arrested for driving under the influence (DUA) with alcohol levels of 0.08% or higher can face criminal prosecution.

This sign means you are near a school.  Watch out for children.
School crossing

Advance warning sign when approaching a highway-rail intersection.
Railroad crossing sign

Top 10(+1) Things to do in Central Florida

If you are here for a week or a lifetime, there are many things to do in Orlando, The City Beautiful. Look below and see the Top 10 Things to do in Central Florida. Whether it is the first time visiting or not, there’s always something new. If you need a little help planning out your vacation, Please Click here.

1. Walt Disney World: It’s still king of the hill: or rather, of the very, very flat land. Spread over an area the size of Boston are: 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, best place with little kids; EPCOT; Disney Hollywood Studios; and Animal Kingdom); two water-parks (see below); 14 themed resorts that are fun in themselves; and more. Make sure you have a game plan, before you enter the World!

2. Seaworld is one of Central Florida’s gems that shouldn’t be missed! It offers a fantastic variety of unique thrill rides (in our opinion the best Central Florida has to offer!), inspiring shows which combine humorous entertainment with a fundamental message about caring for our planet and the animals that inhabit it, as well as remarkable interactive opportunities with beautiful sea creatures including stingray and dolphin. If you would like to find out more, check out our blog under the Florida Guide/Theme Park tab.

3. WDW Character Meals: They sing, they dance, they pose for pix…Yes, dining with Disney characters is expensive, but all food is costly at WDW, and a Character Meal gives you much for your bucks– for ex., a giant buffet with kids’ section, at the Crystal Palace (left.) A late breakfast can serve as lunch, late lunch as early dinner. Read all about Character Meals at Disneys Information Guide. Cinderella’s Royal Table is a favorite breakfast spot

4. WDW Water Parks: Wacky in their theming, and Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both (a) tons of fun, and (b) lovely tropical places to spend a day. Arrive early; stake out a shady bower; then enjoy the lazy rivers, giant water slides, and family raft rides each park offers. Blizzard Beach is known for a crazily steep waterslide “ski jump” on “Mt. Gushmore”. Highlights at Typhoon Lagoon are a giant surf pool, and a snorkel over a (usually crowded) coral reef. Admission to both waterparks is included in a Park Hopper pass.

5. Universal Studios: Orlando’s other multi-park destination is Universal Florida, and its Islands of Adventure theme park has a top zone for little kids: the 10-acre Seuss Landing, based on the beloved books of Dr. Seuss. It’s a bit odd to see The Lorax (with its distinctly anti-commerical message) in a theme park, but now’s not the time to care: kids will love the Seuss characters, The Cat in the Hat ride, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish ride, and more.

6. Islands of Adventure for Thrill Seekers: Universals’ Islands of Adventure theme park is also great for teens and ‘tweens who want to scream. The Hulk and Dueling Dragon coasters are guaranteed to thrill. Also not to be missed: The Spiderman “ride”, not a coaster but an amazing 3-D simulator experience plus a 4th dimension of surprise sensations. Sister park, Universal Florida likewise has great rides based on Men in Black, ET, and Back to the Future, to name a few faves.

7. Spend a Day at your Vacation Villa: The pace at theme parks can be grueling, especially for little kids. Many a parent has said, “All they (the children) wanted to do was play in the pool at the home.” So give the kids a day to do just that. All of our homes have private pools and many other properties in Orlando are in the fun-for-kids biz.

8. Visit Disney Springs: So you’ve spent a day relaxing at your resort… evening comes and you want to go somewhere fun, with no admission price. Downtown Disney is a shopping/entertainment zone that takes up 120 acres in Disney World. Eat at the Rainforest Cafe, stroll past full-size lego figures outside the Lego Imagination store, buy chocolate at Ghiradelli’s (free samples!) Money burning a hole in your pocket? Head to DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, or to the acclaimed Cirque de Soleil show.

9. Enjoy a Meal at City Walk: You’ll also find a shopping/ entertainment zone at Universal Florida: CityWalk, which has the advantage of actually adjoining its two theme parks. Much of CityWalk is geared to party-ers but kids will get a kick out of the theme restaurants, such as Nascar Cafe with game area; Hard Rock Cafe, with giant desserts, music videos, and rock memorabilia; and NBA City Orlando, with videogames and a giant screen showing basketball..

10. Discovery Cove: Want a quick trip to the Caribbean? Here in land-locked Orlando, Discovery Cove is a deluxe simulation of a Caribbean isle. Snorkel at the Coral Reef, and see not only colorful fish but giant (harmless) stingrays. The river float is beautiful: swim under a waterfall, and through the aviary. Take a break on the white sand beach: don’t worry about crowds, as attendance is limited to 1000 a day. The highlight for many is a Swim With Dolphins. Not surprisingly, Discovery Cove is pricey; but at least the price is all-inclusive– even drinks and meals. Which makes it even more like being at a Caribbean resort!

11. LegoLand Florida: LEGOLAND® Florida, Central Florida’s newest theme park, is a 150-acre, full two-day interactive family theme park specifically designed for families with children ages 2 to 12. The largest LEGOLAND Park in the world, it features more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions, restaurants, shopping, a breathtaking botanical garden and the all-new LEGOLAND Water Park. Just 45 minutes from Orlando and downtown Tampa, LEGOLAND Florida rests along the shores of Lake Eloise in the city of Winter Haven. Here guests can enjoy 10 easy-to-navigate and highly-themed zones that include pink-knuckle roller coasters, Miniland USA, the Imagination Zone and LEGO City where youngsters can learn how to drive by freely navigating their own boats and LEGO cars. The all-new LEGOLAND Water Park is a “park within a park” and provides splish-splashin’ fun for the whole family. Main attractions include the Build-A-Raft River where guests can build their own LEGO raft and float down the 1,000-foot lazy river or play for hours at the Joker Soaker water playground. Other attractions include the LEGO Wave Pool, five slippery-fast water slides and the DUPLO® Splash Safari, a toddler-haven with perfectly-sized slides and a zero-depth wading pool.

Experience the brand new LEGO World of Chima presented by Cartoon Network at LEGOLAND Florida with the KIDS GO FREE offer, which includes a free child’s ticket AND a free SPEEDOR with the purchase of a full-priced adult ticket! Get immersed in the Quest for CHI family water ride!