Wildlife Species Found in Niue
What sort of mammals, reptiles and birds can be found in Niue? Niue’s fascinating wildlife can be found both on land and in its surrounding waters. Niue’s native mammals consist of only one species of bat on land while dolphins and whales frequent the surrounding ocean just metres from shore. Skinks, geckos and sea snakes make up the reptile population, while a mix of colourful and vocal birds occupy the rainforest. As for the fish, well, we’ll get into that in another article. Learn more about the animals and birds native to Niue in the list below!
1. Uga (Coconut Crab)
Uga, i.e. coconut crabs, are just about the most important species to the Niuean people. Traditionally, uga are hunted to predominately eat but also kept to sell at markets or to showcase at Village Show Days. Uga have a well-developed sense of smell to locate food on land, where they live most of the time, unlike other species of crab. On the other hand, uga are like hermit crabs in that they change their shell as they grow. Once they are too big for shells, they will develop a hardened abdomen.
There’s much to unpack about the fascinating uga, so check out the 8 Ways to See Uga (Coconut Crabs) in Niue to learn more.
2. Peka (Flying Fox)
Niue’s only native land mammal, the insular flying fox or Pacific flying fox, known as peka in Niuean, is a type of bat only found in the Pacific Islands. Like most bats, they are nocturnal and mostly roost in colonies in the forest canopy. Flying foxes are frugivores, eating fruit, pollen and nectar making them important forest pollinators.
3. Kulukulu (Crimson-Crowned Fruit Dove)
The kulukulu, also known as the crimson-crowned fruit dove or the purple-capped fruit dove, is one of Niue’s most colourful parrots with a green and grey body with hints of yellow and, of course, its distinctive crimson crown. Kulukulu are either spotted in pairs or alone feeding mainly on berries.
4. Spinner Dolphins
Niue’s only other mammals can be found in its surrounding waters, one species of which is the spinner dolphin. Spinner dolphins are small dolphins living in pods in Niue’s waters all year round. They are known for their acrobatic leaps, spinning on their vertical axis. This behaviour is thought to not only remove remoras and fish but to communicate as well. They also communicate like other dolphins with whistles, clicks and other sounds.
Dolphin interaction experiences are available in Niue while watching them from shore can also be enjoyed. See The Guide to Swimming with Dolphins in Niue for more information.
5. Humpback Whales
Seasonal visitors to Niue, humpback whales are your other native mammals who migrate from Antarctica between July and September each year. They mate and raise their calves in Niue’s warm waters before taking them back to Antarctic waters. Niue provides a unique experience to swim with humpback whales using licensed operators who follow strict guidelines.
See The Guide to the Whale Season in Niue for more information.
6. Heahea (Polynesian Triller)
One of the most common and approachable birds in Niue, the heahea or Polynesian triller is a noisy passerine bird. These fast-flying black and white birds are most easily identified by looking at the black stripe through their eyes. The heahea can also be found in other South Pacific Islands and can survive in both natural and manmade habitats.
7. Miti (Polynesian Starling)
Another typical Polynesian bird found in Niue is the miti or Polynesian starling. It has a stunted bill and brown feathers and lives on a diet of fruit and insects. While often hard to spot, the miti can be heard whistling high in the rainforest canopy.
8. Katuali (Sea Snakes)
The type of sea snakes found in Niue is the flat-tailed sea snake, locally known as katuali. They are commonly seen while snorkelling or scuba diving, as they only leave the ocean to lay their eggs. The female katuali lays its eggs in dry crevices and caves, making Niue’s rocky coastline an ideal habitat. Flat-tail sea snakes are highly venomous but their fangs do not typically break human skin and are not aggressive reptiles.
9. Mourning Gecko
Speaking of reptiles, Niue is home to a few land reptile species including the mourning gecko. The mourning gecko is a fascinating creature, not only because it is said to make a great pet but because of the females’ ability to reproduce without a male. That’s right, females are able to clone themselves in their eggs. They communicate through clicking and chirping sounds and apparently sounds that sound like mourning according to how it has been named.
10. Snake-Eyed Skink
The snake-eyed skink lives mainly in lowland forest near the sea, mostly living below the leaf litter or beneath rocks. Their name comes from the snake-like eyes where it appears that the skink doesn’t have eyelids, like a snake. Instead, they have transparent scales that cover their eyes.
Learn more about the reptiles found in Niue in A Traveller’s Guide to Wildlife in Niue.
More About Animals and Birds Native to Niue
That’s it for our list of animals and birds native to Niue. For more wildlife wonders, check out these other awesome guides:
- Where to See Wildlife in Niue
- The Guide to Scuba Diving in Niue
- 10 Most Breathtaking Natural Attractions in Niue
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue.