Story: Natural environment

The tuatara (1st of 2)

The tuatara

The Māori name tuatara translates roughly as ‘spiny back’. Tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) have a primitive body structure that has barely changed for 220 million years. They have a variable body temperature which enables them to survive in New Zealand’s temperate climate. Living in burrows, they hunt at night around their burrow entrances. On the menu are wetas, worms, lizards, millipedes and even small seabirds. This tuatara is a male.

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10036432
Photograph by Peter Morrison

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How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Natural environment - Fauna', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/2696/the-tuatara (accessed 7 December 2019)

Story by Carl Walrond