Tuataras, the only living species of this order, were once widespread all-over New Zealand but are now found in a few islands off the mainland. The name means “peaks on the back” in the Maori language.
This burrowing species of reptile resemble iguanas. They are nocturnal and typically insectivorous but may eat other small vertebrates as well as birds’ eggs. They grow slowly, and it is thought that females are not sexually mature until they are at least 20, and females lay one egg every four years.
The Tuatara population is under immense pressure from invasive species like rats. However, rat eradication programs and captive breeding and release programs have helped repopulate some islands.
Did you know?
- Tuatara can regrow a lost tail
- A male can fan out his spines to attract a female
- Tuatara are the largest reptile in New Zealand
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No