Wild life on Kauai: no lions or tigers or bears — or snakes!

Curious to a new comer on Kauai are the animals or, lack thereof. When I think about the plethora of animals on the mainland, Kauai has very little by comparison. It makes sense since everything except birds and fish were brought here. The creatures I can think of off the top of my head are the cane frog, geckos, anoles, rats, goats, chickens, wild boar, cows, horses and of course dogs and cats.

One thing you will notice right away are the chickens. Wild hens and roosters can be seen crossing the street, baby chicks in tow. They are a delight to tourists and make their way into at least one vacation photo! While no one knows for sure how these wild chickens came about, several theories abound. Some say the feral population can be traced back to the late 1800s when sugarcane laborers brought chickens for food and cockfighting, where some broke free, multiplied and prospered. Another speculation suggests Hurricane Iniki destroyed a number of chicken farms and in doing so set the chickens free. Probably, it’s a combination of the two.

This tropical paradise has no snakes slithering around in the lush undergrowth or up in the giant trees but does have wild boar foraging in the rain forests. Wild boar hunters with their hunting dogs can be found up in the hills and it is a wise hiker who pays respect to them. They can usually be found hunting on the weekends so give them a wide berth if you come across one.

Our favorite are the geckos. They happily eat the bugs in our home and make comforting chirping sounds at night. These gentle little geckos are deeply respected and Hawaiian lore says they are lucky. In primal Hawaii, the dead were closer to the gods than the living. In death, a spirit could contribute to the god’s power in the protection of the surviving household. A great deal of ceremony involving prayer and worship prepared the departed to become an aumakua or guardian spirit in the form of an animal. The lizard or moo, shape shifting and agile, is one of the most powerful of aumakua along with the shark, owl and hawk..

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