NON-AVIAN WILDLIFE OF HAWAI'I -

ON THE GROUND



Thousands of species can be encountered "on the ground" but below a few of the more interesting, exotic and colorful species are described. Most of the species are introduced to Hawai'i, as few land species could reach the Islands but some are endemic, such as the Happy Faced Spiders. Commonly seen introduced species such as Cows, Sheep and Horses are not included, although some of these have small populations descended from the original stock brought in by man e.g. Mouflon Sheep.

For those interested in Mammals of Hawai'i "A field guide to the Mammals of Hawai'i" by S.G. and C. Riper is a great photographic guide. For Reptiles and Amphibians "A field guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands" by S. McKeown is an indispensable full color guide. The following accounts are based on their work.

For Insect and Arachnid field guides try Clicking Here.

(E = Endemic; I = Indigenous; * = Introduced)

Species List:
BRUSH-TAILED WALLABY GREEN AND BLACK DART POISON FROG METALLIC SKINK
WILD BOAR/PIG BULLFROG ISLAND BLIND SNAKE
PACIFIC RAT WRINKLED FROG HAPPY FACED SPIDERS
NORWAY RAT GIANT TOAD GARDEN SPIDER
ROOF RAT GREEN ANOLE CANE SPIDER
HOUSE MOUSE BROWN ANOLE CRAB SPIDER
INDIAN MONGOOSE JACKSON'S CHAMELEON SNAILS
PRONGHORN ANTELOPE MOURNING GECKO KAUA'I CAVE WOLF SPIDER
BLACK-TAILED DEER HOUSE GECKO KAUA'I CAVE AMPHIPOD 
AXIS DEER ORANGE-SPOTTED DAY GECKO  
DONKEY GOLD DUST DAY GECKO  
GOAT SNAKE-EYED SKINK  
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BRUSH-TAILED ROCK WALLABY (Petrogale penicillata)

*Introduced

O'ahu

Marsupials are naturally found in the Americas, Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, Celebes and other Indo-Pacific islands. The Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) is native to Australia but in 1916 a pair escaped on O'ahu from captivity aftre being sold by a transient animal dealer to a local business man. Wallabies bred successfully in the Kalihi Valley along cliffs near what is now the Like-like Highway.

The species population on O'ahu is small and restricted to an area where introduced plants predominate and are hardy enough to survive.

The Brush-tailed Wallaby is about two feet high and has a long tail which aids in balance. There are non-slip pads on the feet which enable the animals to move swiftly along cliff-like rocky terrain. Their fur is pale brown to gray in color, aiding in camouflage.

Rock Wallabies are now very rare in parts of their Australian range and so the O'ahu population may be important in re-establishing the species elsewhere. Wallabies face several problems in Hawaii however, such as man's activities through disturbance, road casualties, shooting, housing development and predation by introduced cats and dogs.

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WILD BOAR/PIG (Sus scrofa)

*Introduced

Ni'ihau, Kaua'i; O'ahu; Maui; Moloka'i; Hawai'i

The introduced Pig (Sus scrofa) is found on all the Main Islands except Lana'i and Kaho'olawe. Pigs of Asian origin arrived in Hawai'i with the first Polynesians but these were small individuals of only about 50 or 60 pounds. When Westerners arrived they brought large feral pigs which rapidly interbred with the Polynesians pigs and so today it is unlikely that any of the original colonizing pig varieties remain.

Pigs can be seen fairly easily in many habitats from coastal areas to Mountain tops and rainforest, although they are more abundant in the middle elevations. Pigs today can weigh as much as 200 pounds or more, although most seem to be about 100 to 150 pounds.

Early morning and evenings are the best time to look for pigs and can often be seen hunting along the same trails day after day which will result in an obvious pathway through the grass or undergrowth.

The destructive nature of the pigs (through uprooting plants and trees and the consequent ing eroding of soil) has serious impacts on regeneration of forests and has damaged many areas where native birds once fed.
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PACIFIC, NORWAY AND ROOF RATS (Rattus spp.)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

The Pacific Rat (Rattus exulans) is found on all the Main Islands and was brought here by the Polynesians, either intentionally or unintentionally, although apparently the ancient Hawaiians used to use Rats for sport, hunting them with a mini bow and arrow!

The Pacific rat is the smallest of the three in Hawai'i and is only about 3 ounces in weight and with a prominently scale-ringed tail of about 5 inches. It is mostly found in lowland habitats such as fields and gullies, but generally seldom inhabits houses or wet forests. When the other two species were introduced the Pacific Rat population drastically reduced due to competition, but appears to be stable at present with concentrations of up to 75 per acre on O'ahu (Ripper 1982).

The Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) was probably introduced around 1825 via transport ships and is now found on all the Main Islands. This is the largest rat that occurs in the State and weighs up to 13 ounces and can reach 16 inches in length. This species inhabits sewers and wharfs and other rather distasteful areas close to human habitation. They can also be encountered in mid-elevation forests but are absent from grasslands, cane fields and wet forests. They are good at swimming and were named 'iole-po'o-wai by the Hawaiians which means water-diving rat.

The Norway Rat is grayish-brown, but has no black phase (which the other two do). Found on all the Main Islands.

The Roof Rat (Rattus rattus) also known as the Black rat or House rat was probably introduced in 1870 or later and can be found in a diverse range of habitats from sea level to 9,800 feet elevation on all the Main Islands. the Roof Rat ranges in color from white to gray to black on the belly with the dorsal side usually black. They are usually about 4 ounces with some reaching 6 ounces. It is likely that this species which readily climbs has caused the loss of many birds as they will often climb trees to check out nests and may remain to nest in them, as well as eat the inhabitants eggs and nestlings. the Hawaiian name is 'iole-nui or large rat, rather a misnomer, as the Norway Rat is larger by far.

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HOUSE MOUSE (Mus musculus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

The familiar House Mouse (Mus musculus) probably arrived in Hawai'i during the early 19th century. They are found on all the Main Islands and can be found in a diverse range of habitats which includes human habitations as well as beaches, grassland, cane fields and forests. Individuals are preyed on by cats, mongoose, Pueo and Hawaiian Hawk but the population is large and frequently exhibits epidemic proportions, especially on Maui and Hawai'i.

The Hawaiian name is 'iole li'ili'i or Little Rat!
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INDIAN MONGOOSE (Herpestes auropunctatus)

*Introduced

O'ahu; Maui; Moloka'i; Lana'i; Hawai'i

The Indian Mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) is found on all the Main Islands except Kaua'i and Kaho'olawe and was introduced in the 1880's from India. Most are found below 3000 feet but may range up to 8000 feet. They are usually about 2-3 pounds in weight and live in rock crevices and are most active at during the day, especially in the afternoon.

The fact that they hunt during the day is extremely important and noteworthy. Mongoose were introduced to try to control the rat population which was increasing at an alarming rate and was a serious threat to agriculture, but unfortunately as rats generally appear at night the two species "missed" each other and the Mongoose looked for different food sources. Although Mongoose will eat beetles, lizards and cockroaches they are very adept and keen on eating birds and eggs. The resulting tragedy is well known, many bird species populations have decreased alarmingly and the Mongoose is not about to stop eating any bird, nestling or egg it can find.

Luckily at present they have not so far been established on Kaua'i and this provides an important Mongoose-free habitat for several endemic species, such as Nene, Hawaiian Petrel and Newell's Shearwater, as well as four endemic waterbirds. The exclusion and eradication of Mongoose is of prime importance in protecting Hawai'i's birds. Worrying news was that in early 2004 there were at least two Mongoose sightings on the eastern side of Kaua'i, hopefully the animal(s) responsible for these sightings will be eradicated quickly.
Officials ask that if residents or visitors see a mongoose on Kaua'i, to call the Kaua'i Invasive Species Committee at 246-0684
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PRONGHORN ANTELOPE (Antilocapra americana)

*Introduced

Lana'i

This species (Antilocapra americana) is native to North America and was introduced to Lana'i in 1959. Unfortunately although the terrain and habitat seemed ideal the species has fared poorly on the Island. Thirty-eight individuals were released in 1959 from Montana, but the species was confused by the nearby salt water and tried to quench their thirst in the ocean and some became ill and died through salt prostration. Also the unfamiliar grasses and plants contributed to dietary problems and the population decreased to only 15 animals in 1960. Although a few are born each year the population is very small and rarely seen on the central Lana'i plateau.
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BLACK-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)

*Introduced

Kaua'i

This species (Odocoileus hemionus) was introduced in 1961 for hunting by the State Fish and Game Division on Kaua'i. Today an estimated population of 600 - 700 remain in the western portion of Waimea Canyon and Kaua'i's forests.
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AXIS DEER (Axis axis)

*Introduced

Moloka'i; Lana'i; Maui

The first Axis Deer (Axis axis) brought to Hawai'i were a gift from the Hawaiian consul in Hong Kong to Kamehameha V in 1868 and are established on Moloka'i, Lana'i and Maui. It was also formerly found on O'ahu at Diamond Head but probably succumbed to Human pressure. The antlers on this species may reach 30 inches long and span 20 inches. Individuals will make a unique barking sound when alarmed or aroused.
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DONKEY (Equus asinus)

*Introduced

Hawai'i

The familiar Donkey (Equus asinus) arrived in Hawai'i after Horses and were introduced for use in agricultural labor and for fertilizer hauling. They were gradually replaced by the stronger and sturdier mule. Today they are only found on the Big Island from Kona to Kawaihae amongst the barren lava flows. Domestic varieties may be encountered on any of the Main Islands.
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GOAT (Capra hircus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands, except Lana'i

Goats
(Capra hircus) were introduced by the early explorers in the late 1700's when Captain Cook left three on Ni'ihau and Captain Vancouver left two on Kauai. Today they are found on all the Main Islands except Lana'i, and can often be seen along ravines and arid areas, although some are also found in rain forest. Most are of a weight of about 65 to 70 pounds but some have been recorded at 200 pounds!
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GREEN & BLACK DART POISON FROG (Dendrobates auratus)

*Introduced

O'ahu

This highly colorful species (Dendrbates auratus) was introduced to Hawai'i in valleys on the leeward and windward sides of O'ahu in the 1930's supposedly to eat introduced insects. It is about 1 inch across and can be seen most often after rainfall and are less active on hot, sunny days. They generally avoid streams but are sometimes seen in small pools of water after rainstorms. Easily identified by its bright green and black coloration in adults, although slight color morphation has also been noted in Hawai'i. There are over 160 species of these frogs in South America! Do not collect these frogs as they are under pressure from habitat destruction and past over-collecting and can sometimes be hard to keep. Poisonous: If handled wash your hands to wash away any toxins from the frogs.
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BULLFROG (Rana catesbeiana)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

The largest frog native to North America this introduced species can be found in ponds, streams, rivers, marshes and reservoirs and has a wide range of food items. It was introduced to the Big Island from Northern California in the late 1800's as a food source and insect eater. They can grow to 7inches or more and are green or brown. They are present on all the Main Islands. According to McKeown the species is not native to California or western America and was actually introduced to new areas of California from Hawai'i, with frogs with Californian roots!!
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WRINKLED FROG (Rana rugosa)

*Introduced

Kaua'i; O'ahu; Maui; Hawai'i

Introduced from Japan to Hawai'i in 1895 or 1896. It is found in shallow pools and streams and measures about 1.5 inches in length. they are green-gray-brown in color and has small ridges along the back which give the frog its name. Established on Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui and Hawai'i. Apparently not established anywhere outside its Korean and Japanese native range, except Hawai'i.
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GIANT TOAD (Bufo marinus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

This introduced species was brought in around 1932 when 148 were released on O'ahu and within two years the population had exploded to over 100,000 throughout the Islands. They are large and can weigh 8 ounces and become up to 8 inches long. They are brown or gray and have large warts on their upper backs. Poisonous: If handled one should wash ones hands afterwards as they can produce a toxin. Found today on all the Main Islands.
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GREEN ANOLE (Anolis carolinensis)

*Introduced

All Main Islands, except Lana'i

First observed on O'ahu the species is now found on all the Main Islands, except Lana'i. The species is green on the upperparts and off-white below and the species is able to change from a green color to a gray or brown color and has a pink dewflap, which they use as a warning, for courtship and territory signalling. Introduced to Midway in a separate introduction from that to the Main Islands.

Link: Green Anole pet care
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BROWN ANOLE (Anolis sagrei)

*Introduced

O'ahu

Another introduced species, Brown Anole are about 8 inches long and are brown in color varying to tan and dark brown. the dewflap is orangey-yellow in color and used for the same reasons as the Green Anole. It is found on O'ahu on the windward side and Waikiki areas and is spreading quite quickly. It was first noted in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
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JACKSON'S CHAMELEON (Chamaeleo jacksonii xantholophus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands, except Ni'ihau, Moloka'i and Kaho'olawe

This fantastic looking species which lives in trees and bushes is native to Africa but can be seen in Hawaii on O'ahu in the Ko'olau Range at mid-elevation, where it is well established. It is also present but in fewer numbers on Kaua'i, Maui, Lana'i and Hawai'i on the Kona side. It is unlikely that there would be much confusion in identifying this species if it was encountered! First introduced in 1972 from a few individuals which escaped. Apparently they are not now exported from Kenya (their native range) and so all Hawaiian and U.S. mainland individuals are descended from the Hawai'i individuals.

Link: Jackson's Chameleon pet care
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MOURNING GECKO (Lepidodactylus lugubris)

Indigenous?
; *Introduced

All Main Islands

The second most common Gecko in Hawai'i this species may have been transported by the early Polynesians or drifted on some ocean debris (its eggs are apparently tolerant of salt water) or it may have been accidentally introduced. The species is brown with various dark markings including a dark bar extending through the eye and onto the neck and v-shapes on the back and down to the tail. It can be seen on all the Main Islands, as well as Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe.
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HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

The most common and abundant Gecko in Hawai'i, it is thought to have been introduced accidentally in the 1940's when there was much sea trade in the Pacific Ocean, although theoretically it could have arrived on driftwood too. They are commonly seen in and around human habitation where they eat insects, spiders, flies and other small invertebrates as well as in forested areas. They are usually brown-tan in color but can become darker and paler, from white to gray and dark-brown, depending on the color of the habitat. Found on all the Main Islands and easily seen in most areas. Has now replaced Mourning and Stump-toed Geckos as the most abundant species on Kaua'i.

Link: House Gecko pet care
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ORANGE-SPOTTED DAY GECKO (Phelsuma guimbeaui guimbeaui)

*Introduced

O'ahu

Introduced from islands in the Indian Ocean this beautiful species is one of two established in the Hawaiian Islands, where it feeds on insects, invertebrates and pollen and nectar from flowers, and fruit juices. The species is well established on O'ahu in the Kaneohe and Kailua areas where it can be found in small colonies. Established from escaped pets in the 1980's it is now becoming slowly more widespread. Identified by green body with large orange splotches and lines and a blue patch on the rear of the head. When inactive the species may become gray or black on the dorsal surface.
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GOLDEN DUST DAY GECKO (Phelsuma laticauda laticauda)

*Introduced

Maui; Hawai'i

Another beautifully marked species that lives in trees, bushes, plants and inside and outside human habitation. It feeds on much the same as the previous species. Identified by its green body, blue eye surround, a shawl of bright yellow-gold spots on the head, neck and upper back; three red spots on the back and small red markings along the rest of the back. It can be observed throughout O'ahu, although in a patchy distribution; on the Big Island in the Kona district and Hilo area and on the West side of Maui.

Link: Golden Dust Day Gecko pet care
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SNAKE-EYED SKINK (Cryptoblepharus poecilopleurus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

This Skink has non-moveable eyelids, the only one in Hawai'i to possess this. It is found in rock walls or areas of lava rock near the beach. The species can be identified by the large-looking eyes (due to the eyelids) and brown-gray color. Two metallic-gold dorsal stripes do not extend past the rear legs and the body sides have white flecks. The ventral surface is yellow. Found on all the Main Islands, although its distribution is patchy. It is very common in rocky areas on Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe
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METALLIC SKINK (Lampropopholis delicata)

*Introduced


All Main Islands

This slim bodied lizard is smooth and brown in color with a metallic sheen. The head tends to be rusty brown with a grayer back and tail, often with darker flecking. The ventral surface is gray or off-white. Introduced from Australia to O'ahu, this species is now common on all the Main Islands and can be found from sea level to mid-elevation forests, especially on Kaua'i and Hawai'i. Often seen sunning themselves on rocks or dry vegetation in clearings.
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ISLAND BLIND SNAKE (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

*Introduced

All Main Islands, except Lana'i

The only species of land snake occurring wild in Hawai'i was first seen in 1930 on Oahu from where it has now spread to all the Main Islands, except Lana'i, probably in soil and plant pots, but usually remains hidden and secretive. It looks like a small dark worm with vestigal eyes, which like two dark spots beneath the head scales. They usually grow to about 20 centimetres longs and are rather slim in appearance. This species is partenogenic, meaning all individuals are the same sex - female. The eggs are white and usually about seven are laid but develop without fertilization by a male. Parthenogenesis is more common amongst the lizards and in fact this species of Blind Snake is the only known species of snake that is unisexual.
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HAPPYFACE SPIDERS (Theridion spp.)

Endemic

O'ahu, Maui; Hawai'i

Endangered

These spiders, of which there are several different kinds, are endemic to the Main Hawaiian Islands from O'ahu to the Big Island, but are absent from Kaua'i. They have pale colored bodies with strikingly patterned abdomens, which appear to have eyes and a smiling mouth. Despite their bright colors they are very elusive and tend to be nocturnal, when they catch their prey in forested areas.
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GARDEN SPIDER (Argiope appensa)

*Introduced

All Main Islands

This introduced spider is easily seen on all the Main Islands in a wide variety of habitats from coastal areas to upland forest. The species is black and yellow and about 2 - 2.5 inches long in the female and brown and about 3/4 inch in the male. Webs are constructed between branches, bushes, human constructions and anywhere that prey might be captured. The webs are often large and have a white zig-zag of webbing from one corner to the center.

Link: U.S. Argiope Spiders
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CANE SPIDER

*Introduced

All Main Islands

Another introduced spider, this species is a similar size to the Garden Spider, although often a little larger. It is pale brown in color with black streaks and bars. The species can often be seen on buildings, in gardens and around light fixtures. The species is also often recorded inside buildings, probably attracted to a light source where there may be suitable prey. Found on all the Main Islands.


Link: www.arachnology.be/Arachnology.html
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CRAB SPIDER

*Introduced

All Main Islands

A small introduced species with a black, white and red body with small horns and peaks on the body and the superficial shape resemblance to a crab. These common spiders can be seen on all the Main Islands in many different habitats, from forests to gardens and are easily seen.
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O'AHU TREE SNAILS (Achatinella spp.)

Endemic

O'ahu

Endangered

The O'ahu Tree Snails are found only on O'ahu and of the 41 species of the genus Achatinella, all are listed as endangered. There is a wide range of colors, patterns and shapes but all are about three quarters of an inch long and mainly have smooth, glossy shells with colors ranging from yellow to black to red to green. The Snails are presently only found in mountainous dry to wet forests and shrublands on O'ahu over 1,300 feet and are found nocturnally feeding on fungus of native trees, and possibly introduced tree fungus too. The adult snails are hermaphroditic and have long life spans. They give birth to live young. O'ahu Tree Snails photo © USFWS.

The growth rate of the snails is rather slow and fertility is low which renders them vulnerable to loss of individuals from collection, predation and disturbance. At present the most serious threat to their survival is predation by introduced carnivorous snails Euglandina rosea, introduced rats and habitat loss through spread of non-native vegetation. Collection of the beautifully colored snails also took its toll, as at the time there was an abundance of snails and it was thought that the numbers would remain high, but the population soon crashed and it is very hard these days to find any snails at all.

In the past the snails could be found from near sea level on the windward coast right up to the upper
Ko'olau and Waianae Mountain ranges and across the central range, but the species is now confined to small pockets of habitat, most of which is under protection.

The current status of the snails appears to be that Achatinella mustelina of the Waianae Mountains is the most numerous of the species, with between 2 and 40 individuals counted in a single bush or tree. Achatinella sowerbyana from the northern Ko'olau Mountains is the second most abundant with 1 to 20 individuals in a single bush or tree. Most of the other species average only 2 or 3 per bush or tree.

The entire genus is on the Endangered Species list and snails should not be collected under any circumstance from their native habitat.

Link: Oahu Tree Snails
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KAUA'I CAVE WOLF SPIDER () Endemic and

KAUA'I CAVE AMPHIPOD() Endemic

Kaua'i

These two species exist in a predator-prey relationship in the inky blackness of moist lava tubes and adjacent crevices in the Koloa lava flows in southeastern Kaua`i. Two other endangered species also in a similar predator-prey relationship are the `Io (Hawaiian Hawk) and the `Alala (Hawaiian Crow).

The
Kaua`i Cave Wolf Spider is a sightless hunting spider adapted to life in the lava tubes. The Kaua`i Cave Amphipod is a small, pale landhopper that resembles a shrimp. Like the Cave Wolf Spider, the Kaua`i Cave Amphipod has no eyes.

Instead of building webs, the Kaua`i Cave Wolf Spider chases and grabs prey. Unlike most wolf spiders, it produces only 15 to 30 eggs per clutch. Newly hatched spiderlings are unusually large and are carried on the back of the female for only a few days. Only three populations of the Kaua`i Cave Wolf Spider are known to exist. Its Hawaiian name is Pe'e pe'e maka 'ole.

The Kaua`i Cave Amphipod feeds on the decaying roots of surface vegetation that reach into the cave system, as well as rotting sticks, branches, and other plant materials. This amphipod, which is believed to be one of the primary prey items of the Kaua`i Cave Wolf Spider, is known from only five populations.

The two species are threatened by deterioration of their cave habitat caused by clearing, grading, filling, paving, and other activities associated with development and agriculture. They also are susceptible to the use of chemical and biological pest controls, which often are employed to control non-native insects such as ants and cockroaches.

The Kaua`i Cave Wolf Spider and Amphipod are found only on private lands.

Link: Kauai Cave Animals
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