Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
The name of the animal in science
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
How long the animal lives for
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Green, Brown, Grey|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|woodland and grassland|
|Average Litter Size:|
The average number of babies born at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Insects, Eggs, Lizards|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Pigs, Cats, Rodents|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Crest along back and third eye on forehead|
Map of Oceania
The tuatara is a small to medium sized reptile, that is found only on a few small islands surrounding New Zealand. Although the tuatara was once found inhabiting mainland New Zealand in large numbers, today the tuatara is nearly extinct from the mainland.
Despite the lizard-like appearance of the tuatara, the tuatara is actually only a very distant relative of the lizard and the snake. The tuatara is believed to have broken off from lizards and snakes more than 200 million years ago!
Tuataras are generally green or brown in colour and can grow up to a meter in length, from the head of the tuatara to the tip of its tail. The tuatara also has a crest that runs down the middle of its body, which is particularly noticeable in male tuataras.
The tuatara is a very unique reptile, with its long tail and dinosaur-like crest, but the tuatara has other features which make it stand out. Like all reptiles, the tuatara has excellent vision, but the tuatara also has a third eye on the top of its head, its use is still unknown. The tuatara has two rows of teeth on its upper jaw will line up either side of the teeth on the lower jaw.
The tuatara is a nocturnal reptile meaning that the tuatara rests during the hours of daylight and comes out to hunt for food at night. During the day, the tuatara sleeps in a burrow which it digs with its strong claws into the ground. The tuatara also prefers temperatures that would be too cold for many other reptiles, and the tuatara hibernates during the colder winters.
The tuatara is a carnivorous animal, meaning that the tuatara only eats other animals in order to survive. The tuatara primarily preys on insects, beetles, spiders, birds eggs, frogs and small reptiles and mammals.
Due to the fact that there are few real predators in New Zealand, the tuatara has no real native predators. However, since the introduction of cats, foxes, dogs and stouts, the tuatara populations have been wiped out in wide areas.
Tuataras often live to be nearly 100 years old and so the tuatara only mates every 4 or 5 years. The female lays about a dozen leathery eggs which she digs into the ground. The eggs of the tuatara often take more than a year to hatch.
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First Published: 3rd November 2009, Last Updated: 8th November 2019
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2. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
3. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 03 Nov 2009]
4. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 03 Nov 2009]
5. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 03 Nov 2009]