3 Interesting Species of New Zealand’s Wild Animals and Birds
New Zealand is has a unique fauna in the sense that it was pretty much free of mammals inhabiting the land. There are a few exceptions, such as seals, whales and bats, but as you’ve noticed, none of them are land mammals. This sort of environment lead to the development of many flightless bird species native to the area, as well leading bats to spend a large portion of their time on the ground. The lack of predators enabled the animals to live and evolve in peace but everything changed when the mammalian invasion began about 900 years ago. It was then when people colonized New Zealand and brought with them other mammals, such as possums, rats and dogs, which quickly disturbed the local fauna and lead many species to (near) extinction. There are attempts being made to restore at least some of the harmony with different sanctuaries being created to protect the local animals. Here are some of the more interesting New Zealand animals and (mostly) birds.
Dolomedes (Fishing Spiders)
What’s more terrifying than a spider? A water-proof spider! That’s right. Native to New Zealand we have the so-called fishing spiders who are covered in short hydrophobic hairs, making them completely water-proof. I wonder when will we see that in a horror movie. Anyway, the Dolomedes are nocturnal hunters, using dark veil of the night to stalk their pray while their main predators – the birds are taking a good night’s rest. Fishing spiders mainly eat water insects, but their diet also includes the occasional (and rather unlucky) small fish. Just like most spiders, they use their sense of touch to detect the movement of their potential pray but unlike most spiders, they don’t do it on a web, but on the water surface. Nature never seizes to amaze me…
One of the symbols of New Zealand, the kiwi is a flightless bird native to the area. What’s special about it is that lays the largest eggs relative to its size compared to any bird in the world. It is another representative of the nocturnal type of animals. Today, they are endangered because of human activity constantly destroying their habitat. This might also be the reason for their night-time activity since kiwis have been seen during the day in areas free of predators (including humans) such as the sanctuaries.
As for the laying the “biggest eggs relative to its size” part, in order to help you visualize it more clearly, I want you to imagine a chicken. Now, kiwis are usually the size of a chicken bu the eggs they lay can be up to six times bigger. Can you picture a chicken giving a six times bigger egg? Well, that’s what happens when a kiwi lays an egg. Is that impressive or what?
Kakapo (Night Parrot)
To continue the trend of talking about nocturnal animals, I present you this cute, not-so-little fellow – the kakapo. Sadly, it is yet another endangered species. It’s unique and in many ways different from other parrots. For one, it’s the only parrot that can’t fly. Another distinction is the fact that it’s a nocturnal animal. Furthermore, it’s herbivorous and there is a distinct sexual dimorphism in body size, unlike most parrots (this means that you can tell the male from the female based on, in this case, body size). Finally, it’s the world’s largest parrot and possibly one of the longest living birds on the planet. Sadly, its extinction seems to be near. As of February last year, only 126 living individuals have been known to live and they were all named, according to Wikipedia.
Author Bio: Jack is a travel blogger. He loves wild animals and nature and is working for http://www.cleantoperfection.co.uk/