The animals that live in New Zealand include kiwis, wekas, morepork owls, Hector's dolphins, snails, spiders, whales and many shellfish species. Many of the country's indigenous animals are endangered and found predominantly in its national parks and marine preserves. The largest concentrations of these animals live in Tongariro and Te Wahipounamu.
New Zealand boasts an extensive list of bird species. Some are sea birds, while others prefer forested areas. New Zealand's birds include gulls, kingfishers and harriers. Birds living near lakes, rivers and the seashore eat a diet rich in insects and larvae. Common insects include dragonflies, mosquitoes, water beetles, water boatmen and mayflies.
New Zealand has very few poisonous animals. A notable exception is the katipo spider, a close relative of the venomous North American black widow. This endangered spider lives only in New Zealand. It prefers sandy environments along the entire coastline of the North Island and the eastern coast of the South Island. Without prompt treatment, Katipo bites are potentially fatal.
One of New Zealand's most unusual animals is the kauri snail, otherwise called the giant land snail. These snails are among the largest in the world, and their shells regularly exceed 3 inches in diameter. Their most unique feature, however, is their carnivorous diet of worms, slugs and other snails. Kauri snails also cannibalize young and weak members of their own species.