Watching an endangered Tuatara hatch

As I type this, Emma is hugging herself and shouting “LOOK AT THE LOVELY BABY!” We believe that every office environment is enriched by biologists.

The little guy/gal in the video above is a Tuatara – and I didn’t have to go to Wikipedia to learn more about them, because Emma is amazingly well-versed in New Zealand’s endemic lizards. One of her friends works in conserving Tuataras, which are endangered, in New Zealand. (Emma says, sadly, that we can’t have one of these in the office – they live for more than a hundred years, and we won’t be around to feed it forever.)


This video was filmed in a specially prepared, laser-cut incubator, with a Pi NoIR camera, hacked together with a DSLR lens. Over at Hackaday, Warren (what’s your surname, Warren? Let us know, and we’ll add it here) Warren Butcher, the maker, has put together a detailed how-to. He says:

Ok so a few weeks ago I was asked to film the hatching of a endangered species of reptile called a Tuatara. It isn’t often that you get a chance actually be involved in this sort of project. So needless to say I said yup I am happy to do it. Then I was told what the restrictions were….. first problem was they are in an incubator, I was thinking incubator as in the sort we see on TV with windows and such so it would be easy to pop a camera on the side focus thru a window and ta-dah video footage complete, job done, but no! No windows or no light.. The space is a temperature and humidity controlled space. So time to think laterally. I had a friend who used Raspberry pi’s and had rav’d about how cool they were. I had been tinkering with the idea of getting one for home and having a bit of a play.

The results speak for themselves. Thanks Warren; we love it.


AndrewS avatar

“they live for more than a hundred years, and we won’t be around to feed it forever”

Good excuse to build a RaspberryPi-powered autonomous Tuatara-feeder! ;-)

ukscone avatar

i’ll feed it as i plan to live forever which is why I am so horrible. only the good die young

Jeff (fos) avatar

You gotta love science!

Warren Butcher avatar

Hi Liz,

really glad you like the clip, it was a pretty amazing learning curve, hadn’t used anything open source before this and was just blown away with how well (after a few teething problems with my own knowledge) it worked. the latest project I am now working on with the success of the Tuatara project is a multi camera timelapse shoot of a building being build.

Cheers Warren :)

Warren Butcher avatar

Opps I didn’t mention but its not actually time-lapse, I shot it as realtime video, what you’re actually seeing is sped up video (7 hours to be precise). But Tuatara’s are mostly slow moving so its easy to think that the jerky movements in the clip are time-lapse related :)

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