Animals in Vanuatu

Updated: January 23, 2023
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Below you can find a complete list of Vanuatuan animals. We currently track 123 animals in Vanuatu and are adding more every day!

The Republic of Vanuatu — commonly called Vanuatu — is a unique archipelago nation in the South Pacific. Regional volcanic activity is common, and the 83 islands that make up the nation host dense rain forests.

Vanuatu Wildlife Overview

Because of its friendly tax policies and available land, people are moving to Vanuatu in droves, and the population increase has translated into a handful of environmental problems. Shore fish are steeply declining, deforestation is destabilizing traditional habitats, and an uptick in landslides is wreaking havoc on livelihoods.

In terms of unique special populations, approximately 22 mammals, 19 reptiles, and scores of insects call Vanuatu home. Sea cows are the area’s largest marine mammals. However, individuals of the species sometimes leave for long stretches if their food supply is devastated by an ecological event.

Vanuatu has a healthy bird population of about 136 avian species, nine of which are endemic to the region. Common birds include the Vanuatu kingfisher and imperial pigeon.

The Official National Animal of Vanuatu

The Iguana is the national animal of Vanuatu. The country’s national flower is the hibiscus.

Did you know that iguanas have a unique third eye on the top of their domes that sense light? It’s true. They also love humid weather and can live up to 20 years, which is long for reptiles of their size.

Where To Find the Top Wild Animals in Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a mix of impenetrable rain forests and occupied coastal lands. Technically, most of the country’s wildlife lives deep in the dense forests, undisturbed by prying human curiosities. But dogs, pigs, goats, cattle, and other domesticated animals live alongside humans in the coastal areas. Rats are also a massive problem in occupied regions and are becoming a big problem for the country’s coconut industry.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Vanuatu Today

The most dangerous animals in Vanuatu are disease-carrying mosquitoes. Other than that, the islands are relatively free of inherently hazardous species. Rabid rats and bats present a threat, but no more so than anywhere else in the world.

Endangered Animals in Vanuatu

At the time of this writing, five mammals on Vanuatu appear on the IUCN’s Red List. One is categorized as endangered, and four are vulnerable. Several species of endangered reptiles also live in and around Vanuatu.

Several bird species that spend at least part of the year in Vanuatu also appear on various endangered species lists, including the Vanuatu megapode and royal parrot finch.

Vanuatuan Animals

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Archerfish

Archerfish can shoot a stream of water up to five feet with amazing accuracy.

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.

Bee

Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Budgerigar

Natively found in Australia!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 17,500 species!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Cat

May have been domesticated up to 10,000 years ago.

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Chromodoris Willani

Their skin is toxic

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Coconut Crab 

The largest terrestrial arthropod in the world

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Common Spotted Cuscus

Has a long, strong prehensile tail!

Cormorant

They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crane

Many are critically endangered species!

Crested Penguin

Has long yellow eyebrows!

Cricket

Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Earthworm

They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Firefly

The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Giant Trevally

The largest fish in its genus

Glowworm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Gnat

Males form large mating swarms at dusk

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Highland Cattle

Natively found in the Scottish Highlands!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Hornbill

The bird has a massive horn on its bill!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Magpie

They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!

Marine Toad

Produces a toxin used in arrow darts!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Meiolania

The Meiolania had a massive head that it was unable to put fully inside its shell.

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Pademelon

Inhabits the jungles of the far east!

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders

Possum

There are 69 species on the Australian continent!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Dragon

Inhabits tropical coastal waters of Australia!

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 4,000 known species worldwide

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spotted Garden Eel

Males battle each other over females and territory

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Striped Rocket Frog

Long powerful hind legs!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Tick

They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Water Dragon

Spends most of it's time in the trees!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Vanuatuan Animals List

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What Animals Live in Vanuatu?

Due to its relatively young geographic age, Vanuatu’s wildlife scene isn’t a bastion of biodiversity. And while the island nation is crawling with lizards and insects, only 22 mammal species can be found on land and in surrounding waters. However, if you’re searching for bats, head to Vanuatu, where 12 species of the flying fauna have set up shop.

Are There Crocodiles in Vanuatu?

Though not native to the archipelago, three or four adult saltwater crocodiles are believed to be living in Vanuatu’s mangroves. They aren’t a breeding population, and researchers guess they were marooned in the area after getting caught up in a cyclone that carried them over from the Solomon Islands or New Guinea.

Are There Any Dangerous Animals in Vanuatu?

The most dangerous non-human animals in Vanuatu are disease-carrying mosquitoes. But that’s about it. Some of the regional fauna look scary, but they’re relatively harmless to humans.

Are There Snakes in Vanuatu?

Two categories of snakes occupy Vanuatu: small burrowing slitherers and large boas, aka pythons. Neither is a huge threat to humans, yet locals are afraid of the scaled fauna for religious and spiritual reasons. Snakes have been known to snipe people on occasion, which is more nuisance than a medical emergency.

Have Species from Vanuatu Gone Extinct?

Since Vanuatu is a relatively young geographic region, it doesn’t have many, if any, species on its extinct roster. More research is required. As of now, scientists have yet to conduct a formal extinct animal survey of Vanuatu.

Are There Sea Cows in Vanuatu?

Yes, sea cows are the largest marine mammals that occupy waters around Vanuatu.