1 Nov 2008

Wildlife staff stumble upon rare eggs

12:05 pm on 1 November 2008

The first Tuatara eggs to be laid in mainland New Zealand in at least two centuries have been found at a sanctuary in Wellington.

Staff at the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary accidently discovered the four leathery, white eggs which are about the size of ping-pong balls, in a shallow nest near a fence.

A spokesperson, Alan Dicks, says Tuatara eggs have been laid in captivity and on off-shore islands, but not on either of the main islands since the ancient reptile was decimated by rats in the late 1700s.

Mr Dicks says it's the first proof the Tuatara are breeding at the Santuary since 200 of the animals were re-introduced to the mainland three years ago.

He says if all goes well the eggs will hatch some time between now and March.