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How to rid your home of pesky tuatara this winter

The Civilian explores the five most effective ways to make your home a tuatara-free sanctuary.

The Civilian explores the five most effective ways to make your home a tuatara-free sanctuary.

With winter only just around the proverbial corner, every New Zealander knows that can mean only one thing: an unwanted infestation of tuatara.

As the weather gets colder, these ubiquitous pests will try and find warm places to shelter for the season. This often means taking up residence in city homes and dwellings, living in showers, cupboards and even under your bed!

With an unprecedented number of tuatara hatchings this year, the problem is expected to be worse than ever.

32-year-old Dunedin man Daniel Cook says he found his house “absolutely crawling” with tuatara last week, and had to call an exterminator to have them killed.

Indeed, from Cape Reinga to the bottom one, it seems that nowhere is safe from the inevitable, yearly invasion of this scaly menace.

So how can you prevent this from happening to you this winter? It won’t be easy, but here are five cost-effective ways to keep your home happy and tuatara-free.

1. Do not let tuatara live

As with many other common household pests, people far too often prefer to “leave them be” until they start to cause trouble. After all, if you’re busy chasing down and slaughtering every tuatara you happen to see in the course of every day life, you’re going to have very little time left for the kids or the television.

But in the small window just prior to winter, doing this will actually save more time than it will waste.

Even if you see a tuatara outside your home, perhaps in your yard or local area, it still pays to kill it. If you’re unable to do this yourself, call the local council.

Tuatara that are left alone will likely breed, and cause more problems down the track. They must be eradicated swiftly. It takes between 10 and 20 years for tuatara to reach sexual maturity – substantially less than the time it takes a human – and this doesn’t leave you much time.

Be wary, and willing to use lethal force.

2. Set tuatara traps

Put a spider, beetle, or other insect in a large wok on your kitchen stove and turn it on. Any tuatara in your home should smell the insect cooking, and will climb into the wok to retrieve it. According to the Department of Conservation, tuatara are very adept at climbing into woks, but very bad at getting out of them.

3. Be sure that none of the eggs in your fridge are tuatara eggs

It is estimated by the Inland Revenue Department that at least one in every five eggs in a New Zealand home is actually a tuatara egg. Tuatara are crafty, and often try to lay their eggs in places they won’t be found; this includes next to regular chicken eggs in household egg cartons.

Because they are the same colour, people will often mistake tuatara eggs for chicken eggs, and won’t remove them.

Fortunately, it takes at least 11 months for a tuatara egg to hatch, so be sure to use all your eggs before they get that old.

4. Bob Dylan

It is a well-documented fact that tuatara hate Bob Dylan, so much that they are unlikely to linger anywhere his present is felt.

Try putting on 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home, and place pictures of the American singer-songwriter in rooms where you’ve had trouble with tuatara before.

This method is especially effective if you are Bob Dylan.

5. Use baby formula

While it wasn’t the case in the past, baby formula sold over the counter now contains a potent poison called 1080, which, applied correctly, can be harmful to tuatara.

Try spreading baby formula on a tuatara’s face and body, but be careful: it can also be harmful to human beings. Do not give to infants.