Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Prey Of The Dog: New Zealand

Photo: Evan Goldenberg
New Zealand is two islands in close proximity that have Polynesian origins. It is shared by both the Maori (it's native inhabitants) and the Western European settlers who inhabit it today. It was initially settled in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman from Holland. They had several battles and conflicts with the indigenous people and in 1840, it became an official English colony. Today it is an independent nation in the British commonwealth. Its size is larger than Great Britain and smaller than Australia.

New Zealand is mainly known for its birds and reptiles and has very few species of mammals. As much as dogs have been domesticated, there is always a small part of them that is in touch with their wild side. This can be troubling to certain animals of the Kiwi Island. Most animals who fall into this category are birds and reptiles. Most dogs won't attack. But there are times when one wanders away that the inevitable happens. Below is a list of animals who can be prey.

  • Blue Duck
    The Blue Duck, also known as the Whio, is an endangered species. It is found on the northern and southern islands. It's roughly 21 inches (53 cm) in size. It has a dove gray color with a hint of blue. Its chest is brown spotted and its feet are dark brown. Females have fewer spots and ducklings have none. They feed on invertebrate snails and larva. They must watch out for feral dogs and cats, as well as, hunting dogs, rats, falcons, hawks and eels.
  • Brown Teal
    The Brown Teal is severely endangered in New Zealand. Today, there are fewer than 1,500 of these birds in existence. They are found along the Great Barrier Island and in Northland. They are extremely territorial — especially during mating season — and will kill their own kind to protect that territory. These nocturnal ducks are known for laying in the grass during the day and swimming at night. A big reason for that it's nocturnal was in response to protecting itself against aerial grabs from large birds such as the Australasian Harrier. Other predators include dogs, cats, stoats and ferrets It is 19 inches large (48 cm) and is known for its distinctive brown coloring.
    Photo: Sabine's Sunbird
  • Great Spotted Kiwi
    The Great Spotted Kiwi is one of the few birds on this island with the inability to fly. Known to inhabit the northwest corner South Island, this bird is in gradual decline. It's a large bird that only lays one egg at a time. Both parents nest the egg during the 2.5 to 3 month incubation period. They are extremely territorial as to protect their egg. Its appearance is known for having a mottled appearance. Predators of this national treasure include the ferrets, stoats, hunting dogs and wild dogs.
  • Kakapo (Owl Parrot)
    The Kakapo is the world's heaviest parrot weighing 8 pounds (3 kg). They have soft moss green and black feathers on their back, combined with yellow-green feathers near their face and underside. It is the only parrot that doesn't fly and is a nocturnal bird. They along with the kereru are the only plant-eating birds. They live in the Fjiordland and Stewart Island. With only 62 of these creatures currently in existence, they have been relocated to predator-free areas. The birds never experience any predators before the Europeans settled. With the settlers came the addition of cats, rats and dogs. Also, the Maori, valued their skins and feathers. In 1952, the rush to conserve the species started and they have been working hard to make sure there was an abundant supply of food in order for them to breed.
    Photo: MNolf
  • Little Spotted Kiwi
    The Little Spotted Kiwi is the smalled of all New Zealand's kiwi birds. It weighs 2.5 to 4 pounds (1.2 - 2 kg) and is 16 inches (40 cm) large. Once they lived throughout New Zealand, now, they are down to 1,200 and can be found on Kapiti Island. They live in the forest beneath deep vegetation or under the roots of trees. Predators of this bird include ferrets, stoats, feral and hunting dogs.
  • New Zealand Dotterel
    The New Zealand Dotterell lives on both the North Island and South Island with the majority of the 1700 birds living in North Island. Around 60 live in South Island which decreased dramatically due to the influx of feral cats. Other predators such as dogs and hedgehogs have put them on the endangered species list. They are about 11 inches (25 cm) in size with a mottled gray top and a light brown underbelly.
    Chris Gin
  • North Island Kiwi
    Like their Kiwi counterparts in other parts of New Zealand, this breed finds itself as prey of dogs, ferrets and stoats. This is also one breed of birds where the female tends to be larger than the male and tends to weigh 3 to 6.5 pounds (1.5 to 3 kg). The average size is 20 inches (50 cm). Their coloring varies from brown and gray to black brown to reddish brown. Some even have white feathers. They will burrow themselves under dense vegetation or hide in hollow logs in the areas of e North Island, Little Barrier Island, Kapiti Island. They were arecently reintroduced into several forests south of Palmerston North.
    Photo: Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust
  • North Island Weka
    The North Island Weka lives on various offshore islands as well as, the Bay Islands and the Bay of Plenty. It's a flightless bird with a large mandible and strong feet. Its coloring is a combination of brown, black and gray. It weighs between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds (700 grams - 1.2 kg). Females tend to weigh less. They are omnivores and will eat anything like, invertebrates, snakes, snails, eggs, birds and rabbits. They are equally territorial as well. Females will kill immature males if they feel threatened. Predators of this bird include stoats, ferrets, cats and dogs.
    Photo: Gail Garber
  • Tuatara
    The tuatara looks like a lizard, but is actually a rare type of reptile called the Sphenodon which translates to "wedged tooth". There are only two types of this species left. The tuatara can live up to 100 years. They are about 20 to 31 inches long (50 to 80 cm). They are known for their olive green coloring and their spiny back. Other tuatara may be colored dark pink or light gray. It is a good swimmer and nocturnal. They eat mostly insects and will occasionally eat smaller animals. It has to watch out for dogs, ferrets, rats, cats, stoats and possums. Due to deforestation in New Zealand, very few tuatara can be found on the mainland anymore. Protected since 1895, this animal resides in predator-free areas of offshore islands around New Zealand.

Let's Discuss!

Which animal of prey is most fascinating to you?

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