Isolated in the middle of the Pacific sits Niue, affectionately known as ‘the rock’. This coral island is one of the world’s largest and is home to a diverse range of wildlife. The isolation of Niue has resulted in a relatively limited diversity of wildlife, prominently made up of birdlife with introduced pests such as rats and feral cats. The four reptile species featured in this stamp issue are largely not effected by predation or human interference.
StampNews.com invites our readers to discover more about the various Niue’s reptiles that inhabit the forest areas, rocky outcrops and surrounding ocean with this stamp issue.
30c Mourning gecko stamp – Lepidodactylus lugubris
Not only has this sociable gecko been known to make a great pet, it has caused great interest in the scientific world due to its ability to reproduce without a male. The females are able to clone themselves and usually have two eggs in each batch. They communicate mainly through clicks, chirping and tail waving, and it’s rumoured that they recieved their name when locals heard them calling for their lost male counterparts.
$1.40 Flat-tail sea snake stamp – Laticauda schistorhynchus
The katuali or flat-tail sea snake is only found in the warm ocean waters surrounding Niue. This highly venomous snake can grow up to a metre in length and will only leave the ocean to lay its eggs. As the eggs would not survive in water and can take up to six months to hatch, the female sea snake must find a dry crevice, sheltered rock mass or caves. Coastal development and coral bleaching are beginning to restrict nesting areas and hunting grounds for these already limited range predators.
$2.00 Snake-eyed skink stamp – Cryptoblepharus poecilopleurus
This particular skink received its name due to its lack of an eyelid. Instead they have transparent scales, also known as spectacles, covering their eyes - just like that of a snake. Their preferred habitat is amongst the leaf litter and twigs on forest floors, beneath rocks or in low vegetation – making Niue the perfect home for them. While they prefer to be in lowland areas near the sea they have been recorded up 3,200 feet above sea level.
$3.00 Pacific slender-toed gecko stamp – Nactus pelagicus
A nocturnal hunter, this widespread gecko spends the majority of the day hiding beneath forest debris to avoid the heat. At night, it will emerge from its shelter, most commonly piles of coconut husks and begin foraging for insects. It doesn’t appear to have a preference for wet or dry climates as it is commonly found in both areas. A common theme that has emerged in its habitats however is that it appears to prefer less densely populated areas, despite frequenting rural villages.