The first confirmed tuatara nest in over 200 years on mainland New Zealand has been discovered at the Karori Sanctuary in Wellington.
Sanctuary staff uncovered the four ping-pong-ball-sized leathery white eggs yesterday during routine maintenance work near the sanctuary’s mammal-proof fence.
Raewyn Empson said that about this time last year staff had found a gravid (egg-carrying) female.
The eggs would have been laid almost exactly a year ago in a shallow trench dug by the female and then backfilled.
“We knew of two suspected nests but didn’t want to disturb them to confirm whether or not they contained eggs.”
The nest had been uncovered by accident and was the first concrete proof that the sanctuary’s tuatara were breeding.
Ms Empson suggested there might be other nests in the sanctuary.
The eggs had been immediately covered up again to avoid disturbing their incubation.
Although only four eggs were unearthed, it was likely that there were more in the nest as an average clutch contained around 10 eggs.