Mammals of New Zealand

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Hector's dolphins at Porpoise Bay, in the Catlins

Prior to human settlement, the mammals of New Zealand consisted entirely of several species of bat, and several dozen marine mammal species (though the Miocene Saint Bathans Mammal shows that at some point there were terrestrial, "archaic" mammal species). The Māori brought the kurī (Polynesian dog) and kiore (Polynesian rat) in about 1250 CE,[1] and Europeans from 1769 onwards brought the pig, mice, two additional species of rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets and possums and many other species, some of which cause conservation problems for indigenous species.

Indigenous species[edit]

The "Saint Bathans mammal", evidence that terrestrial mammals besides bats once occurred in New Zealand.

Conservation status[edit]

The Department of Conservation rank priorities for conservation with the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

Introduced species[edit]

Māori introduced two species kurī (dog) and the kiore (Polynesian rat) and European settlers introduced many other mammal species.

Mammals introduced by Europeans
Species Date of introduction[3] Further information
Black rat
Cat as early as 1820 Cats in New Zealand
Cattle 1814
Common brushtail possum 1837 Common brushtail possum in New Zealand
Elk (wapiti)
European hedgehog 1870 Hedgehogs in New Zealand
Fallow deer 1864
Ferret 1879
Goat late 1700s
Hare 1851
Himalayan tahr
House mouse
Kiore 1250
Kurī 1250
Moose 1900, 1910 Moose - New Zealand
Norway rat 1800s
Pig 1773
Rabbit 1838
Red deer from 1851
Sambar deer 1875-76
Sheep 1773
Stoat Stoats in New Zealand
White-tailed deer

Agricultural animals such as cattle and sheep were also introduced, as well as alpacas and llamas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lowe, David J. (November 2008). "Polynesian settlement of New Zealand and the impacts of volcanism on early Maori society: an update." (PDF). Guidebook for Pre-conference North Island Field Trip A1 ‘Ashes and Issues’: 142. ISBN 978-0-473-14476-0. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  2. ^ Worthy, Trevor; Hand, SJ; Worthy, TH; Archer, M; Worthy, JP; Tennyson, AJD; Scofield, RP (2013). "Miocene mystacinids (Chiroptera, Noctilionoidea) indicate a long history for endemic bats in New Zealand". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33 (6): 1442-1448.
  3. ^ King, Carolyn M. (1985). Immigrant Killers: Introduced Predators and the Conservation of Birds in New Zealand. Auckland: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-558115-7. 

Further reading[edit]

  • King, Carolyn M. (1995). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-558320-5.