Kiawah Island's Wildlife

Discovering Kiawah Island’s Wildlife

Kiawah Island boasts a rich and diverse population of animals, ranging from white-tailed deer and bobcats, to playful bottlenose dolphins, alligators, and loggerhead sea turtles.

These creatures, each with its unique characteristics and role in the ecosystem, contribute to the island’s natural balance.

White-Tailed Deer

Kiawah Island is home to approximately 500 white-tailed deer, with their reddish summer coats transitioning to a darker gray hue in winter. Recognizable by their antlers, they can be spotted across the island, particularly during dawn, dusk, and nighttime. 

To ensure their protection, it’s crucial to respect their habitats and exercise caution when encountering them.

Kiawah Island's Wildlife


Bobcats play a vital role in controlling deer and rodent populations around the island. Kiawah’s 30-35 bobcats add an air of mystery to the eastern portion of the island and are actively being studied using GPS collars. 

Kiawah Island's Wildlife

Bottlenose Dolphins

Kiawah Island is a great place to watch bottlenose dolphins all year round. Our resident dolphins can be spotted right from the beach or strand-feeding along Captain Sam’s Inlet.


Kiawah Island is home to a very large population (500+) of American alligators. It’s essential to appreciate these large reptiles from a safe distance. Always avoid approaching, feeding, or harassing these creatures, respecting their natural behaviors and habitats.

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

The beaches of Kiawah Island are a nesting ground for loggerhead sea turtles, attracting females from May to August each year. Artificial lights can disorient these turtles, so make sure to keep beachfront lights off from May to October, ensuring a safe environment for them.

Brown Pelicans

Large and distinctive, brown pelicans grace Kiawah Island with their massive pouched bills and striking breeding season transformations. Observing these magnificent birds adds to the island’s charm and reinforces the importance of preserving their habitats!

Kiawah Island's Wildlife

Protecting The Island’s Wildlife

Living or visiting Kiawah Island comes with the responsibility of coexisting respectfully with its diverse wildlife. You can help protect our island’s wildlife by following the Kiawah wildlife guidelines.

Exercise vigilance and reduce speed while driving, particularly during peak wildlife activity periods such as dawn, dusk, and nighttime hours. Additionally, keep dogs on leashes, except in specified beach areas, to ensure the safety of both animals and visitors.  Following these guidelines can support conservation efforts to protect the island’s natural assets. Let’s appreciate Kiawah’s beauty and work together for a sustainable environment for future generations.