Animals on Hilton Head Island

It’s a wild world out there! Whether you choose to explore Hilton Head Island by land, sea or air, here is a guide to just a few of the creatures you might encounter on your next adventure.

American AlligatorAlligator juvenile

Habitat: Freshwater

Size: Can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds

Lifespan: Up to 50 years

Diet: An apex predator that will eat anything, alive or dead, it can get its jaws around.

Fast Fact: To determine the length of an alligator, count the inches between the nose bump and eye bump: that number translates into feet


Great Blue HeronBlue Heron

Habitat: Shallow waters

Size: Grows up to 4.5 feet tall with a 6.5 foot wingspan

Lifespan: 15-24 years

Diet: Fish, crustaceans, small reptiles, small rodents and insects

Fast Fact: Helps keep the alligator population under control by eating freshly hatched baby gators


Knobbed WhelkKnobbed Whelk

Habitat: Tidal estuaries and deeper waters off the Atlantic coast

Size: Large sea snails that can grow up to nine inches in length

Lifespan: Reach maturity in three to five years

Diet: Predatory carnivores that eat other hard-shelled creatures

Fast Fact: Protandric hermaphrodites, knobbed whelks start their life as males and turn into females



Habitat: Highly adaptable and found throughout most of the U.S.

Size: Weigh between four to seven pounds and grow as tall as five inches

Lifespan: two-four years

Diet: Opportunistic omnivores

Fast Fact: America’s only native marsupial


Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose DolphinHabitat: Found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. Coastal populations often migrate into bays, estuaries and river mouths

Size: 300-1,400 pounds and six-12.5 feet in length

Lifespan: 40-50 years

Diet: Invertebrates, squid and fish

Fast Fact: Local dolphin populations engage in strand feeding, a learned behavior where a group of dolphin corral fish, chase them onshore and then strand themselves on the sand long enough to eat their catch


Roseate Spoonbill

Photo Credit: Author-User:Mwanner

Roseate Spoonbill

Habitat: Nest in Lowcountry marshes during the summer months.

Color: White head and neck, light pink wings with bright pink borders and pink legs

Size: Up to 2.5 feet tall with a five-foot wingspan

Diet: Use their large, spoon-shaped bill to detect small fish, invertebrates, shrimp and crabs

Fast Fact: Nest in large colonies with their own species, as well as other wading birds, over water.