The Creepy Crawlers of Fiji – #HappyHalloween

It’s Halloween here in the US, so in that spirit, we thought we’d share some images of creepy critters we saw on our honeymoon at Matangi Island Resort.

Creepy Land Creatures

The existence of venomous creatures on the islands of Fiji is relatively rare, and most visitors are at pretty low risk for encountering major medical issues, though allergic reactions of course are always a concern.

While snorkeling and diving of course, swimmers have to be more aware of with common sealife dangers. Though Fiji Guide also mentions the (hopefully fairly rare!) possibility of sea snakes coming onto land in the evenings, so might be worth a further read if you are curious.

Banana Spiders & Bugs

As mentioned in our review, we saw banana spiders quite frequently, and the one pictured below we practically ran into at face level as it had spun a giant web across the bush hike to the overlook for Horseshoe Bay.

According to Wikipedia, the “Banana Spiders” commonly found in Fiji are more scientifically known as “Golden Silk Orb Weavers”.

The venom of the golden silk orb-weaver is potent but not lethal to humans. It has a neurotoxic effect similar to that of the black widow spider; however, its venom is not nearly as powerful.

If any entomologists are following this blog, perhaps you can share with us what the proper name of the large bugs seen in the top picture, and the one at the left of the below shot. Liquor bottle included for scale!

fiji-creepy-crawlies

 

Fiji’s Land Crabs

We saw these crustaceans scampering about the moist ground areas during our nature hike on Matangi, and on our visit to Tavoro National Park on Taveuni. Being a huge fan of the color purple, I was immediately drawn to their brightness – no filters used here!

Fiji’s Fruit Bats & Endangered Bat Species

While most people get the heebie-jeebies from bats, they are generally harmless and good for the tropical island ecosystem.

In Fiji, bats are the only native mammals. There are six bat species currently considered endangered and critically endangered on the islands of Fiji. While I’m not a bat expert, it appears to me that we caught a snapshot of what is possibly an endangered “monkey faced” bat, also known as the “flying fox”.

Interestingly, these bats are endemic to Fiji, though this 2013 Scientific American article notes that they are only found in a small rainforest region on a single mountain on Tavenui. But Taveuni is not so far from Matangi that it’s not that unlikely.

Fiji’s enormous (and harmless) fruit bats are an amazing sight to see. With wingspans reaching up to 5 feet, they are incredibly impressive flying in small groups to forage tropical fruit in the evening dusk hours.

On Matangi, a large colony of Fruit Bats lives in Horseshoe Bay and a smaller species of bat can be found in caves at the entrance to Horseshoe Bay on the northern side of the island.

A highlight of our trip to Matangi was meeting the ‘docile’ bat that befriended the resort staff, who warmly referred to him as Jonathan. The bat certainly was not shy and would come regularly to meet and greet with guests, and joined us one night over at the bar.

As you can see, he was quite friendly, and allowed several guests to ‘hold’ him or hung from them. We didn’t completely participate in the cuddling, but we did reach out to gently pet him, as we’ve never had an encounter of this type before.

His body fur was incredibly soft and his wings had a surprising texture almost like a very supple, thin leather or suede.

More of “Jonathan” the Bat from Matangi Island Resort:

 

You can learn more about tracking and conservation efforts at NatureFiji.org.

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