Tuataras are reptiles, but they aren’t lizards. Their closest relatives died out during the time of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago. Tuataras are sometimes called living fossils because their family is so old.
Tuataras, unlike lizards, like cool weather. They’re also nocturnal. They live in only one place on the planet – 30 small islands off the coast of New Zealand. Here, they are protected by the New Zealand government.
Fun Facts about Tuataras for Kids
- Tuataras live a long time. They don’t grow up until they’re 15 to 20 years old – sort of like people. They can live for up to 100 years.
- Tuataras only have babies every 2 to 5 years. It takes up to 9 months for a mother tuatara to lay her eggs. She places them in a burrow, where they incubate for another 13 months before they hatch. During cold weather, the eggs stop growing until warm weather returns. Most lizard eggs hatch within a few weeks.
- Tuataras eat mostly insects. Sometimes they eat birds, eggs or small lizards. Their teeth wear down as they get old. Old tuataras have to eat soft food, just like many old people.
- Tuataras sometimes share a burrow with a sea bird. The bird goes out during the day and the tuatara goes out at night.
- Baby tuataras are active during the day so the adults don’t eat them at night.
- Relative: member of the family
- Fossil: remains of ancient animals and plants
- Burrow: hole in the ground
- Incubate: develop
- Nocturnal: awake at night
Learn More All About Tuataras
Watch this fun documentary video to know more about the Tuataras:
A documentary video of facts about the tuataras.
Question: Are tuataras endangered?
Answer: Yes, tuataras now live on islands that are free of rats and other predators to help their numbers grow.
Question: Are most new babies male or female?
Answer: Warm weather while the eggs are incubating makes male babies. Cooler weather makes girl babies. If the world keeps getting warmer, all the babies will be boys.