Tuatara surprises staff at National Kiwi Centre by giving birth

Some surprise arrivals in Hokitika have delighted staff and visitors at the town’s kiwi centre.

At some point in 2017, the centre’s female tuatara became pregnant and buried her eggs, but no one knew until now.

It was the smallest of movements that caught animal handler Karen Smith's eye when she was checking on the National Kiwi Centre’s tuatara.

“[I was] thinking it may be a mouse and then when I got a better look at it I realised it was a baby tuatara.”

Staff at Hokitika’s kiwi centre were unaware their female tuatara was even pregnant until the eggs hatched.

“I managed to scout around and find another three - so we ended up with four live baby tuataras,” says Ms Smith.

The tiny tuataras are kept separate from their parents and for good reason.

Adults tuataras will eat their offspring as soon as they hatch.

While tuatara births in captivity aren’t rare, here in Hokitika the odds were against them.

Tuatara are native to New Zealand, descended from the dinosaur period and can live to 100 or beyond.

Henry at Southland Museum became a first-time father at 111, and he’s the granddaddy to the new West Coast arrivals.

Karen Smith is certain there are more infants on the loose and is asking visitors to keep an eye out.

“I have been telling people to look for movement in here and if they see anything to come tell us up the front."

The tuatara became pregnant last year, buried her eggs, but no one knew until now. Source: 1 NEWS

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