Tuatara are rare, medium-sized reptiles (adults ranging from about 300g to 1000g) found only in New Zealand.
They are the only extant members of the Order Sphenodontia, which was well represented by many species during the age of the dinosaurs, some 200 million years ago. All species apart from the tuatara declined and eventually became extinct about 60 million years ago.
Tuatara are therefore of huge international interest to biologists and are also recognised internationally and within New Zealand as species in need of active conservation management.
Tuatara once lived throughout the mainland of New Zealand but have survived in the wild only on 32 offshore islands. Find out more facts and view videos about tuatara.
Tuatara are vulnerable to mammalian predators which may also compete with them for invertebrate food. Viable populations are now found only on predator-free islands and mainland sanctuaries.
Tuatara are recognised in NZ and internationally as a species in need of active conservation management. Learn about DOC's tuatara conservation work.
Learn ways you can be involved in conservation work to protect tuatara.
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