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Wildlife of Onomea

Onomea Bay and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is home to many forms of wildlife in addition to our plant collections.

Gold Dust Day Gecko

Gold Dust Day Gecko The Gold Dust Day Gecko (Phelsuma laticauda laticauda) is from Madagascar and has become an island favorite due to its dazzling colors.

They can be seen almost anywhere in the Garden, Hilo and the Kona side too. The Gold speckles on its neck make it easy to identify.


Aukuu, black crowned Night HeronOne frequent visitor to the Garden is the 'Auku'u, or Black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax ). Black-crowned night-herons are native not only to Hawaii, but to just about everywhere else in the world too. They can often be seen picking Tahitian Prawns from Onomea stream.

Mynah Bird

Mynah Bird Another Bird that can often be seen is the Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis). In Hawaii, where the Common Myna was introduced to control pests in the sugarcane fields.

'A'ama Crab

Mynah Bird Climbing the rocks by Turtle Point you can spot the A'ama Crab (Grapsus tenuicrustatus). It is a very rapid runner and can travel with great speed over steep and overhanging rocks.

This edible species is often used as food.

Tahitian Prawns

Tahitian Prawns Tahitian Prawns were first brought to Hawaii for food on Moloka'i and O'ahu. Its young were able to travel to other islands and now inhabit Onomea stream. These fresh water shrimp can best be seen in the Garden near the foot of Onomea Falls.


mongoose First introduced into the Hawaiian Islands in the 1880s , the small Indian mongoose, Herpestes auropunctatus, is often seen scurrying about the undergrowth of the garden. The sugarcane plantations brought them to Hawaii in an attempt to control rats in the cane fields. Unfortunately, this was a failure because mongooses are diurnal and rats are nocturnal. Whoops!

The Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth Frequently, in the Garden you can hear Visitor?s exclaim, "Was that a Hummingbird I saw?"

The answer is no.

Hawaii does not have Hummingbirds, what they have seen is a moth. Two species of Sphinx Moth's, Macroglossum stellatarum and Macroglossum pyrrhosticta (pictured above), are often seen feeding on various plants in the Garden.

Garden spider (Argiope appensa)

Black and Yellow Garden Spider This introduced spider is easily seen on all the Main Hawaiian Islands in a wide variety of habitats from coastal areas to upland forest. The species is black and yellow and about 2 - 2.5 inches long in the female and brown and about 3/4 inch in the male.

Webs are constructed between branches, bushes, human constructions and anywhere that prey might be captured. The webs are often large and have a white zig-zag of webbing from one corner to the center.

Hawaiian Hawk ’Io (Buteo solitarius)

Hawaiian Hawk The Hawaiian Hawk or ’Io, Buteo solitarius, is endemic to Hawaii and can sometimes be seen circling the skies above Onomea searching for prey.

Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi)

Hawaiian Monk Seal The Hawaiian Monk Seal, Monachus schauinslandi, is an endangered seal endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. They are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and state law in Hawaii.

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