The jumpers of wētā, be sure to check these unique critters out!

Name: Cave wētā    

Scientific name:  Gymnoplectron

NZ Status: Endemic (only found in NZ)

Conservation Status (NZTCS): -

Found: Mainland and offshore islands

Threats: Predation from mammals and habitat destruction

Did you know? There are around 60 species of cave wētā in New Zealand

Cave Wētā
Photo Credit: Chris Helliwell

Cave wētā, also known as jumping wētā, belong to the family Rhaphidophoridae and the order Orthoptera. 

Cave wētā are nocturnal and live in tunnels, hollow tree trunks and under stones in the daytime. At night they leave their daytime shelter to feed. Due to their smaller mouths they tend to eat plants (not leaves), fungi and dead insects. Different to other wētā, cave wētā have extra-long antennae and long slender legs for jumping. They can even leap up to 3 meters! Despite lacking hearing organs (tympana), this does not put them at a disadvantage to other wētā, instead cave wētā are very sensitive to ground vibrations detected through pads on their feet.

Look for them: Cave wētā are sometimes seen on our ZEALANDIA By Night tours.