Tuatara Facts

They call me a tuatara which means 'peaks on the back' in Maori.

I'm the world's oldest living dinosaur! I haven't changed much in over 225 million years. I can only be found in the wild in New Zealand. By the way, I'm not a lizard: my teeth are very special - I have a single row on the bottom jaw and two rows on the top jaw which means I can eat hard insects. I also have a third eye. This means I can soak up UV rays when I'm young to help me grow. When I'm about 6 months old you can't see it because I grow scales over it.

I keep growing until I'm 35 years old and will live until I'm between 60 and 100 years old - much like you. I'm cold blooded and prefer the colder weather. I like to bask in the sun to keep warm. I like to change my skin once a year.

When I was young I hunted for food during the day so the adult tuatara didn't eat me; now I'm an adult I eat at night and my diet consists of insects, lizards and seabird eggs.

Would you like to know more?


Long Finned Eels

New Zealand Eel Facts

The long-finned eel, or as the Maori call them, tuna, can be found throughout New Zealand in rivers and inland lakes. The eels you see here are female and between 85 and 100 years old. They weigh approximately 20kg and are up to two metres in length. The eel grows very slowly at a rate of 15-25mm per year!

Eels have limited vision. They have rows of sensors on their head, known as lateral lines, that help them detect movement in the water.

Eels can travel over land, slithering through wet grass to get to a pond or lake. As long as their skin stays moist they can can absorb oxygen through it, surviving for long periods out of the water.

When the eel is ready to breed (about 24 years for a male and 34 years for a female) they embark on a long journey back to the deep ocean trenches near Tonga; after spawning they die.

Small eels eat insects, worms and water snails. As they get bigger they eat fish and meat, like small birds or ducklings.

Copyright © The National Kiwi Centre - Website designed and powered by AA Web Builders