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The female will either submit, and allow the male to mount her, or retreat to her burrow. The sperm is then transferred into the female, much like the mating process in birds.

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Tuatara eggs have a soft, parchment-like 0. It then takes between 12 and 15 months from copulation to hatching. This means reproduction occurs at two- to five-year intervals, the slowest in any reptile. The sex of a hatchling depends on the temperature of the egg, with warmer eggs tending to produce male tuatara, and cooler eggs producing females. Tuatara probably have the slowest growth rates of any reptile, [25] continuing to grow larger for the first 35 years of their lives. However, kiore Polynesian rats had recently become established on several of the islands, and tuatara were persisting, but not breeding, on these islands.

The recent discovery of a tuatara hatchling on the mainland indicates that attempts to re-establish a breeding population on the New Zealand mainland have had some success. Tuatara were removed from Stanley , Red Mercury and Cuvier Islands in and , and maintained in captivity to allow Polynesian rats to be eradicated on those islands. All three populations bred in captivity, and after successful eradication of the rats, all individuals, including the new juveniles, were returned to their islands of origin.

In the —92 season, Little Barrier Island was found to hold only eight tuatara, which were taken into in situ captivity, where females produced 42 eggs, which were incubated at Victoria University. The resulting offspring were subsequently held in an enclosure on the island, then released into the wild in after rats were eradicated there.

Following this program, juveniles have once again been seen on the latter three islands. In contrast, rats persist on Hen Island of the same group, and no juvenile tuatara have been seen there as of In the Alderman Islands , Middle Chain Island holds no tuatara, but it is considered possible for rats to swim between Middle Chain and other islands that do hold tuatara, and the rats were eradicated in to prevent this.

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Sphenodon guntheri is present naturally on one small island with a population of approximately In , 50 juvenile and 18 adult Brothers Island tuatara were moved to Titi Island in Cook Strait, and their establishment monitored. Two years later, more than half of the animals had been seen again and of those all but one had gained weight. The captive juveniles were from induced layings from wild females. The animals had been cared for at Wellington Zoo for the last five years and have been kept in secret in a specially built enclosure at the zoo, off display. There is another out of country population of Brothers Island tuatara that was given to the San Diego Zoological Society and is housed off-display at the San Diego Zoo facility in Balboa.

Sphenodon punctatus naturally occurs on 29 islands, and its population is estimated to be over 60, individuals. The carrying capacity of Moutohora is estimated at 8, individuals, and the island could allow public viewing of wild tuatara. They are occasionally seen sunbathing by visitors to the island. A mainland release of S. The first successful breeding of tuatara in captivity is believed to have achieved by Sir Algernon Thomas at either his University offices or residence in Symonds Street in the late s or his new home, Trewithiel, in Mount Eden in the early s.

Several tuatara breeding programmes are active within New Zealand. Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill was the first institution to have a tuatara breeding programme; they breed S. At Auckland Zoo in the s it was discovered that the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines the sex of the animal.


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The Victoria University of Wellington maintains a research programme into the captive breeding of tuatara, and the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre keeps a pair and a juvenile. One notable captive breeding success story took place in January , when all 11 eggs belonging to year-old tuatara Henry and year-old tuatara Mildred hatched. This story is especially remarkable as Henry required surgery to remove a cancerous tumour in order to successfully breed. In January , Chester Zoo , England, announced that they succeeded in breeding the tuatara in captivity for the first time outside its homeland.

Tuatara feature in a number of indigenous legends, and are held as ariki God forms. The tuatara was featured on one side of the New Zealand five-cent coin , which was phased out in October Tuatara was also the name of the Journal of the Biological Society of Victoria University College and subsequently Victoria University of Wellington , published from until From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the animal. For other uses, see Tuatara disambiguation.

Genus of reptiles. Conservation status. Reptiles portal New Zealand portal. Sphenodon punctatus. Bibcode : Natur. Tuatara recovery plan — PDF. Threatened Species Recovery Plan Archived from the original PDF on 5 November Retrieved 2 June Archived from the original PDF on 4 October Retrieved 11 September New Zealand Ecology: Living Fossils.

TerraNature Trust. Retrieved 10 November Kiwi Conservation Club: Fact Sheets. Archived from the original on 16 October Retrieved 13 September Conservation: Native Species. Archived from the original on 31 January Retrieved 3 February Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Animal Bytes. Zoological Society of San Diego.

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Frontiers of Oral Biology. Proc Biol Sci. Retrieved 10 June Canterbury University Press. Conservation Genetics. Sanctuary Wildlife.

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Karori Sanctuary Wildlife Trust. Archived from the original on 21 October Retrieved 28 June In: Halliday, Tim and Adler, Kraig eds.

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Retrieved 28 February Botanical Latin. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press Inc. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Sphenodon guntheri , pp. New Zealand Frogs and reptiles. David Bateman publishing, pp. Infectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles. San Diego Zoo.