Rat breaks into Invercargill's Tuatarium, killing one

A rat has claimed the life of one of Invercargill's star tuatara.

New pest measures have been put in place around the Queens Park area after a rat made its way into the Tuatarium at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, killing the endangered reptile. 

Invercargill City Council community services manager Pete Thompson says it is a real loss for the community.

"They all hold a real special place in the hearts of the people of Southland and indeed our staff across council and the museum, so this has been quite devastating news." 

Thompson said it's the first such incident they've had in the 30-year history of the Tuatarium. The rat also damaged other exhibits in the museum. 

"For many people it's going to come as a shock and a bit of a gut-punch to discover that this has happened. We understand that... we're just trying to do everything we can to ensure it doesn't happen again."

It's believed the killer rat scaled a two-metre PVC pipe and climbed through an air vent on July 14.

The museum has about 70 tuatara. Star tuataras Henry and Mildred were not hurt. The deceased did not have a name, senior living species officer Lindsay Hazley told Stuff.

Traps have been installed in the area and other options are also being explored. 

The rat believed to be behind the lizard's murder was caught, and is reportedly being kept in a freezer awaiting an autopsy.