10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue
10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue

(c) niuepocketguide.com

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 seasnakes 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

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 race during village show days on the island. 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. However, uga are like hermit crabs in that they change their shell as they grow until they are too big, then 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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

2. Flying Fox

Niue’s only native land mammal, the insular flying fox or Pacific flying fox 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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

3. Kulukulu

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. The kulukulu are either spotted in pairs or alone feeding mainly on berries.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Tau'olunga on Wikipedia

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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Niue Tourism

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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Niue Tourism

6. Heahea

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 man-made habitats.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Duncan Wright on Wikipedia

7. Miti

Another typical Polynesian bird found in Niue is the miti or Polynesian starling. It has a stunted bill and brown feathers and has a diet of fruit and insects. While often hard to spot, the Miti can be heard whistling high in the rainforest canopy.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Duncan Wright on Wikipedia

8. Sea Snakes

The type of seasnakes found in Niue is the flat-tailed sea snakes, 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 sea snake 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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) Niue Tourism

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 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

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.

10 Animals and Birds Native to Niue(c) niuepocketguide.com

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:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in A Traveller’s Guide to the Wildlife in Niue.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of Niue Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Niue. She knows the island inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Niue’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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