So it was that several of us were all in NatureSpace at the same time to see our own repitilian ripsnorter.
His name was Spike, and he was very gracious, sitting in his box waiting for a cameo while his handler Sue gave us a full and thorough rundown of the world of a tuatara.
And interesting? Boy was it! Did you know these amazing things?
- Tuatara metabolism is so slow that they can survive for maybe five years without food.
A tuatara is born with a third eye. It’s a sensory organ that helps the newborn monitor its melatonin levels. Melatonin is a chemical that people and other animals have to help their bodies maintain circadian rhythms, which are the routines programmed into our (and a tuatara’s) brain. The third eye closes over as a tuatara gets older (and by old we mean OLD, because the oldest alive that we know of, Henry from Southland Museum is 110, and they could possibly get as old as 250).
A tuatara can hold its breath for nearly an hour. And, if that’s not enough, they can grow their tails back, if they’re careless and lose it under the fridge. And if you’re looking for more interesting information, how about this one, which I found care of the Ngati Koata trust,who look after Tuatara on Takapourewa Island in Cook Strait: A young tuatara will hunt during the day, to avoid being eaten by an adult tuatara at night.