Can You Identify These New Zealand Mammals?

By: Kennita Leon

This particular breed of rabbit is known as the 'New Zealand Rabbit.' They reach an average weight of up to 12 pounds.

A mouse is known for its large ears, long tail and pointed nose. In 2018, an eradication effort was attempted to preserve native bird species on the Antipodes Islands.

Goats are considered relatives of sheep and have over 300 breeds. While sheep are famous for proliferation in New Zealand, there are also many goats to be found there.

The largest mammal in existence, the blue whale can weigh almost 200 tons, and its heart is the size of a small room. In spite of this, very little is known about the species.

Ferrets are small mammals that can do a whole lot of damage. Like mice, rats, and other rodents, they're responsible for damaging native bird and reptile populations in island nations including New Zealand.

Also referred to as Virginia Deer, the whitetail deer weighs up to 300 pounds. During the spring and winter, these deer are reddish-brown, while in the fall and winter they appear gray-brown.

Hedgehogs are said to have arrived on the islands in the 1870s. They were brought by European colonists and have now spread across the country, preying on native animals.

Pigs have large heads and long snouts which are used to find food. They are believed to have been the first domesticated animals.

The long-tailed bat, which is also called the New Zealand long-tailed bat, is one of just over a dozen bat species found in New Zealand. These bats generally feast on insects, and can fly nearly 40 miles per hour to find them!

Cows make up a large part of New Zealand's economy, as milk is among their major exports. Take that, sheep!

Sperm whales are commonly called the cachalot. Although they only give birth every four to 20 years, the female sperm whale cares for their young for a full decade.

Most people aren't too fond of rats, but New Zealand takes their animus to a whole new level. According to the Guardian, the country will be rat-free by 2050 after undergoing a massive rodent extermination.

The striped dolphin is one of the most common, traveling in groups of 25-100 in tropical waters. They can be found all around the world and can thrive for almost 60 years.

Wallabies are closely related to the kangaroo clan. Found across the south pacific, wallabies use their tails for balance and their powerful legs for hopping -- and fighting, sometimes.

A mule is the hybrid young of a female horse and a male donkey. Mules appear in an array of colors, shapes and sizes, weighing up to 1,000 pounds.

Commonly referred to as kekeno, the New Zealand fur seal can be seen on the country's rocky coastlines. These expert swimmers prefer to be left alone and free from human interaction.

Despite their cute appearance, weasels are deceitful animals. Their extremely quick metabolisms allow them to eat nearly half their body weight daily.

As its name suggests, the red deer is usually reddish-brown, and is closely related to the American elk. Hunting and "commercial culling" have resulted in the population being much smaller today than in the mid-20th century.

The orca is also called the killer whale and can be easily recognized by its black and white markings. Orcas belong to the dolphin family and are its largest member; however, their population across the world is in decline, especially in the Pacific Northwest. About 50,000 exist in the wild.

Hares closely resemble rabbits but are noted for having longer ears. Despite their lower fat content, they are a source of meat in many cultures.

Another name for the stoat is the short-tailed weasel. As a form of rabbit control, these mammals were introduced to the country of New Zealand in the latter part of the 19th century.

In fact, only male elephant seals have their distinctive "trunk." They can also weigh 4 tons and span nearly 20 feet!

The fin whale is considered the world's second-largest species. It is referred to as the finback whale and previously called the herring or razorback whale.

It's true what they say: there are more sheep in New Zealand than there are people. In fact, there are about 10 sheep for every person in the country -- upwards of 40 million.

New Zealand sea lions are declining in population, and they are currently the rarest sea lion. Fishing nets pose the greatest threat to them, which is why the government is working to protect them.

This goat-antelope species, the chamois, is abundant throughout much of the world including the European Alps. It is a popular animal to hunt on New Zealand's South Island.

Moose are excellent swimmers and sometimes even travel miles at a time through the water. Despite their size, they are herbivores, preferring lichen and taller shrubs.

Although this species of deer originated in Europe, it has been brought to New Zealand and numerous other countries. The fallow deer can live up to 16 years.

The brushtail possum is a nocturnal mammal and the second largest of the possum family. In the 1850s they were initiated into New Zealand as a means of introducing a fur industry.

Sei whales are an endangered species. Like other marine mammals, they are vulnerable to human behavior in the ocean, and the combination of climate change, hunting, and commercial fishing operations have led to their declining numbers.

Hector's dolphin is native to New Zealand and is one of the smallest aquatic mammals. This group was named after Scottish naturalist and geologist Sir James Hector.

The Tahr is believed to be a relative of wild goat. This species was established in New Zealand's Southern Alps and has since been hunted for recreational purposes.

The kiore was among the first mammals in New Zealand, and is believed to be responsible for the extinction of some bird species. Today, they are relatively uncommon, and will likely be wiped out by 2050 in order to preserve other vulnerable species.

The sambar deer is found in the North Island, and was originally brought to New Zealand from Sri Lanka, where it originated. There are just 2 main herds in New Zealand, and the species is listed as "vulnerable."

Leopard seals are one of the more aggressive seals out there, eating everything from penguins to other species' seal pups! You don't want to run into these guys, whose only predators are humans, orcas, and, rarely, elephant seals.

Habitat loss and pesky rodents have led to the decline of this little guy, who resides on the North Island. In winter, these bats stay in their roosts, where they go into a state of torpor, leaving again when the weather warms up.

The Kuri is a Polynesian dog which was lived in New Zealand for hundreds of years before becoming extinct. It is likely that cross-breeding with European dogs resulted in their becoming rare and then non-existent.

The dusky dolphin is an acrobat at sea! They're famous for their streamlined bodies and the incredible way that they flip and twist in the air.

With a weight of up to 450 kilograms, the wapiti deer is known as the world's largest round-horned deer. With no hunting restrictions, they are hunted year-round in New Zealand.

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Image: Oksana Schmidt / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The mammals of New Zealand, with the exception of sea animals, have not been around very long. Why? Because nine hundred years ago, this island nation was not accessible to animals who couldn't swim or fly. Animals now native to New Zealand are still new to the landscape, relatively speaking.

So besides the whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions that we know, there weren't any mammals there. When the Polynesians arrived, they brought with them animals like the kiore and dog. When the Europeans got there, more mammals arrived - cats, ferrets, stoats, deer and possums. 

Today, New Zealand is home to such a wide range of mammals that it can be virtually impossible to name them all, but that's exactly what we want you to do today. We're going to give you a list of animals native to the country and it'll be up to you to match them all to their names. If you can do that, you're an animal expert that even the late Crocodile Hunter himself would be proud of. 

So show us that you know all these mammals from New Zealand by acing this fun animal quiz!

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