Cold snap turns tuataras off food and love

17:00, Sep 08 2009
IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT:  Ninteen-year-old Jainie peeking out of her cave at the Southland Museum's tuatara enclosure.
IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT?: Ninteen-year-old Jainie peeking out of her cave at the Southland Museum's tuatara enclosure.

The cold snap in Invercargill last week was enough to put the tuataras at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill off their food.

A plea by tuatara curator Lindsay Hazley two weeks ago for grubs and bugs had been well received, he said.

However, just as an influx of creepy crawlies started to arrive, the weather changed from warm to cold and the tuataras' breeding activities slowed down, he said.

Tuataras like to lay their eggs in warm weather but getting ready for this requires extra calories, hence their big hunger for bugs (and love).

Things were looking better this week, Mr Hazley said.

The warmer temperatures these past few days had been enough to stir up the Jurassic reptiles' appetites and breeding activities again.

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Mr Hazley said he was grateful to everyone who had brought in bugs but recommended people telephone the museum to check just how many bugs were needed before bringing any in.

Nineteen-year-old Jainie "who used to be James up to he laid eggs when he was 13" was expected to be one of the first tuatara to lay eggs this year.

Mr Hazley hopes the museum's rare guntheri tuatara also lay eggs this year but did not expect this to happen until later in the breeding season.

Other plans for the season included supplying tuatara eggs to Victoria University to use in an incubation study, he said.

It would be the first time any eggs had been supplied from Southland and had been made possible because there was now quite a genetic range of tuatara in the breeding programme at the museum, he said.

 

The Southland Times