Isolated from the rest of the world on a little island in the Pacific, we New Zealanders sometimes do things differently from the rest of the world. This can be great (we pioneered the women’s vote and bungy jumping after all) but it can also be a bit questionable. I’m looking at you stubbies.
Our native species have been in isolation for a long time. As a result, our native species have evolved to develop unusual traits in the animal kingdom.
1. Our native frogs don’t croak
New Zealand has four native species of frog/pepeketua, and none of them can hear a thing you’re saying. Our frogs are different to the rest of the world’s because they don’t have external eardrums – croaking is no good to them. No matter how loudly they croak at their significant other, they’re never going to pass the remote. New Zealand frogs make almost no sound at all, aside from the odd chirp or squeak if they’re harassed.
2. And they’re never tadpoles
Instead of having an awkward adolescent tadpole phase, kiwi frogs develop inside an egg and hatch as an almost fully-formed frog. At this stage they aren’t fully independent – most species are reliant on their parents for a wee while yet. The male Archey’s frog, for example, sometimes carries his young offspring around on his back.
3. Our native bees don’t live in hives
Not content with living a communal life and serving their queen, our bees chase the idea of owning their own home instead. They’ll find a mate at the local watering hole (read: flower patch) and create a cell to lay their eggs in after stocking it up with pollen and nectar.
4. Our native birds don’t fly
Well, lots of them don’t anyway. Take our icon, the kiwi, which looks much more like a mammal than a bird. Not only is it flightless, but it’s feathers are more like fur, it has nostrils on the end of its beak instead of the base, and it even has a bunch of super-sensitive whiskers similar to those of a cat or dog. Most birds could be forgiven for not recognising kiwi as kin!
5. Oh, and our native bats prefer not to fly too
New Zealand’s short-tailed bats/pekapeka seem to have taken a leaf out of our birds’ book and developed a fondness for the forest floor. Instead of using their wings to catch prey in the air, the short-tailed bat does most of its hunting on the ground. It still uses its wings, but as not-so-graceful ‘front-limbs’ for scrambling around.
6. Our native ducks don’t quack
Not to be part of the status quo, male whio/blue ducks whistle, while females growl. In fact, that’s where they get the name whio, which is Māori for whisle.
7. Our native lizards don’t lay eggs
Well, apart from one: the egg-laying skink. All of the rest give birth to live young. This is unusual for lizards, and probably due to our cold climate. Lizard mums are also pregnant (technically gravid) for a really long time, with some South Island geckos carrying their young for over a year!