Why Is the Giant Weta Endangered?


Quick Answer

The giant weta are endangered because of predation by introduced species and habitat destruction, according to New Zealand's Department of Conservation. Weta habitat is being destroyed both by humans and by introduced mammalian browsers, such as deer.

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Full Answer

Giant weta are huge insects that can achieve sizes larger than most mice. They look like very large crickets. There are more than 70 species of weta in New Zealand, of which 16 are endangered or at risk.

Weta evolved in the presence of predators that include birds, reptiles and bats. Humans recently introduced rats, cats and hedgehogs, which have been eating the weta.

Giant weta prefer to live in forests. They hide during the day in ferns and trees and are most active at night. Due to habitat destruction and predation, at one point in time, giant weta were only found in one location on Little Barrier Island. Trap and release programs were used to spread the giant weta. The Aukland Zoo has had no difficulty in breeding giant weta in captivity, and many have been released into the wild. As of 2014, natural breeding populations of giant weta existed on three different islands off the coast of New Zealand, according to the country's department of conservation.

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