Scientists catch fight between kiwi and tuatara on video

Scientists have captured video of a rare encounter between a kiwi and a tuatara, but it's not a happy one.

The video was recorded on February 8, 2012 and released nearly seven years later on January 25, 2019.

It takes place outside a tuatara burrow in the Wellington sanctuary Zealandia, one of the few places where tuatara and kiwi currently coexist.

Things kick off when the adult male little spotted kiwi returns to the burrow to visit its chick that had hatched inside. He tries to go inside to look after the baby, but the tuatara - also male - won't let him in the burrow.

The unhappy kiwi snaps its bill and stamps around the entrance for a bit, but the tuatara would not be moved.

Eventually the tuatara comes out of the burrow and lunged itself at the kiwi and finds itself at the receiving end of a vicious foot stamping.

It was all for nothing though as he heads headed back into the burrow, where the kiwi chick could be heard calling in distress.

Scientists say based on the animals' actions, it's difficult to interpret the interaction as anything other than hostile.

Writing in the New Zealand Journal of Ecology, Helen Taylor, Nicola Nelson and Kristina Ramstad say it suggests kiwi and tuatara previously had a less-than-fantastic relationship in the wild.

"The interaction captured here suggests a potentially antagonistic relationship between two species that previously co-occurred, but rarely encounter each other in modern day New Zealand," they said.

There were some concerns for the chick's welfare following the interaction, as tuatara are known to eat fairy prion/tītī wainui chicks, but it was later spotted safe and well.

Eventually the chick and its father left the nest permanently, and the tuatara involved in the confrontation was seen visiting it several times afterward.