The Most Common Hilton Head Wildlife That You’ll See
The thriving ecosystems and spectacular year-round weather of Hilton Head Island make it a very habitable environment for many species of wildlife. In fact, the island is home to some of the Lowcountry’s most unique and interesting animals. During your visit, you’re sure to see a wide variety of winged, four-legged, and finned creatures. If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve compiled a small list of some of the most common Hilton Head wildlife and what you should know about them!
Hilton Head wildlife is only one of the many things to enjoy during your beach getaway. Be sure to request your free copy of our Vacation Guide to find all the best local attractions, activities, dining, and more! It’s everything you need to plan your itinerary and prepare for the ultimate Hilton Head escape.
The Most Fascinating Hilton Head Wildlife
The American Alligator is one of the most common inhabitants of the island. While the toothed creature may strike fear in those who see them, they are actually quite harmless and interesting to observe (considering you stay out of their territory). They mostly reside in the island’s lagoons and lakes, sunbathing on the shores during the cooler months. Most alligators can grow to be 12 feet in length, but the larger ones are usually relocated to put nearby residents at ease. The best times to see an alligator is during the fall and spring, as this is usually when they spend their days sunbathing to keep themselves warm. In the summer, you’ll most likely see them cruising along the water. In the colder weather, usually October to March, alligator sightings become much less frequent as they hide in mud dens.
While they aren’t necessarily aggressive, they can become dangerous when provoked. Never prod an alligator or allow children and pets to swim in lagoons. If you’d like to get up close to the alligators in a safe environment, we highly recommend the Hilton Head Alligator Adventures.
A favorite of many locals and tourists, Hilton Head dolphins are a wonder to behold. The island has a dolphin population of around 200, with even more migratory residents. They are very friendly and playful sea creatures that will often approach your boat just to say hello! While you are most likely to see the curious creatures break the surface of the water at least once during your visit, we still highly recommend dolphin cruises! Dolphin watching in Hilton Head is one of the most popular island tours, and there are plenty of options for you to choose from. Here are just a few of our guests’ favorites:
These beautiful and graceful mammals frequent both forests and neighborhoods during dusk hours. Many deer can be found at the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge, Sea Pines Plantation, and nearly every other plantation on the island. They also travel in groups, so if you spot one, you will most likely find another nearby.
Deer tend to be frightened easily and may run off as you approach them by foot or in your car. If you are driving in the early morning hours, be sure to drive slower than usual just in case one leaps into the road. If you show respect and care for these animals, you will be able to enjoy watching them graze or wander the grounds from a distance.
There are many types of crabs in Hilton Head, most of which you can easily find right on the beach! Mitchellville Beach is a great place to find blue crabs (which are actually green in appearance), fiddler crabs, and ghost crabs! While you are shelling, keep an eye out for the hermit crab, an interesting critter who lives in discarded shells. In the water, you may find the horseshoe crab, which is actually a member of the spider family. While their large and fierce appearance may be frightening to many people, they are harmless. Horseshoe crabs are even used to detect impurities in drugs, as their blood is very sensitive to bacteria. If you find a crab, you are free to watch and play with them, but please don’t remove them from the beach. They do not like to be taken away from their homes any more than you do!