Oceania has a rich variety of animals. The biggest landmass Australia, has hundreds of species of mammal, bird, reptile, frog, and freshwater fish. Some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 90% of fish & insects, as well as 93% of amphibians are endemic to Australia. Neighbouring New Zealand an island archipelago is populated by around 70 species of birds that are endemic with over one third of these being flightless and almost a quarter nocturnal. Read more →
Notable New Zealand birds include the kiwi, tui, bellbird, kakapo, takahe, and weka. The most spectacular of all New Zealand birds, the Moa, was hunted to extinction by the time the first Europeans arrived in New Zealand. Some Moa reached heights of 15 feet, making them the tallest bird in the world. The largest eagle in the world also existed in New Zealand, but died at the same time as moa because moa was their main food source. New Zealand also has no land snakes and only one native poisonous spider that is very rare.
The most well known of all Australian mammals are marsupials. Included are kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, tasmanian devils, and possums. Monotremes, a more unusual class of mammal includes the echidna and duck billed platypus. The latter is arguably the most unusual animal in the world. It is a furry semiaquatic mammal that lays eggs, swims under water, has a bill like a duck, and webbed feet. WHen specimens were first sent to England, they were thought to be a hoax, as they appeared to be several animals sewn together.
Dispersal to isolated islands is difficult for land-based animals, and Oceania (with the exception of Australia), has few native land-based animals in comparison to the world's other ecozones. Larger animals that are found on continents, didn't exist in the islands of Oceania until they were introduced by humans. The ocean is not a barrier for many bird species however and for this reason, they are relatively common. A number of islands have indigenous lizards that probably arrived on floating vegetation, but there are few indigenous mammal species in Oceania with some islands recording no mammal species with the exception of flying bats, which are found throughout Oceania.
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