IT will never be known if a rat, which was the main suspect in the death of a tuatara at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery, was indeed the guilty party.
The 31-year-old tuatara was found dead on July 14 by senior living species curator Lindsay Hazley during regular maintenance of the tuatarium.
At the time, then Invercargill City Council (ICC) acting group manager community services Pete Thompson said the rat was found in another part of the museum, where damage had been done to the albatross diorama and a line fishing display nearby.
“We have captured a rat that was involved with the collection damage, and we haven’t found any more evidence of rats of either being in the tuatarium or the museum, so it could be the same rat,” Mr Thompson said.
The rat, which was caught live then killed, was then stored on ice until a postmortem could be performed to find out if it was the culprit.
ICC group manager environmental and planning Darren Edwards said staff had been advised by a pathologist there would be no value to testing the rat, due to decay.
“So that wasn’t completed.
“The post mortem of the tuatara did confirm that the cause of death as a rodent attack,” Mr Edwards said.
It was thought the rat was likely to have gained access to the enclosure by scaling a two-metre PVC pipe and climbing through an air vent.