All program times are subject to change without notice.
Now Open on Level 1
This hands-on exhibit hall celebrates the richness of the natural world, with a special focus on the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. Visitors discover the insects, plants and animals of coral reefs, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and other Florida environments. They learn how living and non-living things interact with each other and their environment.
The dramatic centerpiece of NatureWorks is Florida’s Habitats, a glimpse into the natural world of Central Florida. In this realistic exhibit area, visitors explore the distinctive environments of Sand Pine Scrub, Cypress Swamp, Pine Flatwoods and Sinkhole Lake. There are also ample opportunities for guests to encounter live animals during regularly scheduled presentations.
Observe a typical cypress swamp, complete with live alligators
See how sea turtles make their nest at the sandy beach
Discover the intricate system of roots at the mangrove swamp
Watch how bees build their hive, care for young and gather nectar at the BeeHive Encounter
The mysterious and invasive ant known as the “Rasberry crazy ant” now has a scientific name. The ant was first discovered near Houston, Texas in 2002 by a local exterminator named Tom Rasberry, who first noticed the increasing problem the ants had been causing. Individually, these little critters seem much like any other harmless species of ants, but don’t let that fool you! In groups, these ants form large colonies that congregate near outlets and wires causing important electrical equipment to fail, overheat or even short out.
Scientists may have found an answer to global warming: sea otters.
That’s right! A new study shows the heaviest members of the weasel family act as a control against sea urchins, which feed on kelp forests.
Why is this important? Kelp forests absorb carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas and a contributor to global warming (the gradual rise in Earth’s temperature). Sea urchins munch on kelp forests, decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide absorbing kelp. Sea otters have a positive effect biomass by eating sea urchins. Even the threat of sea otters is enough for the urchins to hide in underwater crevices and survive on plant scraps.
Bats have gotten a particularly bad rap thanks to old-time monster movies, but did you know that bats are an important part of our ecosystem? It’s true! And the primary benefit for us is that on average, a single bat can capture 500 to 1,000 mosquitos an hour!
In order to encourage bats onto your property, they’ll need a place to say. You can easily build your own bat house that can hold from one dozen to more than 100 bats depending on your needs, available space and carpentry skills.
Before building your bat house, consider the space available. To create favorable conditions, the internal bat house temperature should be between 27 and 38 degrees Celsius and have at least six hours of direct daily sun. Bat houses should be mounted on buildings or poles as these provide the best protection against predators. Also, be sure to mount them at least 12 feet above the ground, though 15 to 20 feet is preferred. Don’t place a bat house in a location lit by bright lights. Ideally, houses should have a water source close by. Open-bottom houses greatly reduce problems with birds, mice, squirrels or parasites entering the house.