As an island nation, the number of native plants and animals in Palau
are severely limited. The land animals were almost completely absent and the plant
life was small; only the migrating birds and sea life had any significant presence
on historic Palau. Most of what is found on the islands today was introduced in
pre-historic times by the migrating people, birds, winds, and ocean currents.
Since nearly all mammals are land animals there were no native mammals to
Palau, although a few bat species arrived thousands of years ago, including
what is known as a "flying fox," which is a huge bat species. Other than
this, no land mammals existed on Palau until the arrival of the earliest people,
who likely came from the region of New Guinea and brought with them pigs, dogs,
mice, and rats by the 1200s, if not earlier.
The other historic mammals connected with Palau are in the
sea as dolphins and whales are present in the waters surrounding the islands. These
waters are also filled with thousands of fish, shellfish, and other forms of sea
life. In these waters you can find surgeonfish, clownfish, puffer fish, butterfly
fish, grouper, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, shrimp, krill, crab, seahorses, rays,
sharks, jellyfish, starfish, and sea urchins among many others.
The water and the land have attracted more than just fish though, they have also
attracted numerous birds, including many that feed off the animals in the sea. The
bird life in Palau includes doves, owls, passerines, scrub
fowls, and heron among others.
Like the mammalian life in Palau, the reptilian and amphibious
life is fairly limited as well. The most common of these animals are those adapted
to the water and swimming as sea turtles can be found in the nearby waters. Land
species have again made their way to the islands in numerous methods and today toads,
frogs, lizards, snakes, and the saltwater crocodile are present in limited numbers.
The insect and other small animal life is fairly diverse as many insects can fly
or float and have made their way to Palau. These animals include
butterflies, bees, ants, flies, snails, spiders, and worms among others.
Like the animal life, the plant life is also very limited. It is doubtful any plants
originated in Palau itself other than a very limited number
of local plants. However the winds and water currents have taken seeds to the islands
and in other cases birds have transported seeds to the islands. Because of this
many of the most common plants in Palau today are native to the nearby islands of
New Guinea and those further west. Plants from these nearby islands that now thrive
in Palau include coconuts, taro, breadfruit, bananas, yams, lemons, and sugar among
There is also a substantial presence of other trees and plants, including orchids,
ferns, mosses, hibiscus, eucalyptus, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, and pandanus