When most genre fans hear the word “weta,” images of monsters usually spring to mind, since the New Zealand-based company Weta Productions is world renowned for their amazing (and Oscar-winning) special effects creations in everything from the Lord of the Rings saga to Hellboy and 30 Days of Night. But if you happen to live in New Zealand, the name may conjure a different kind of creature: the large cricket-like beetle which inspired the name of the company. Still, not even the locals have seen a weta quite like this one.
Discovered in 2011 by former Colorado park ranger Mark Moffett on an excursion to Little Barrier Island, this female weta is large enough to munch on a carrot, and as you can see here, Moffett let her do just that. “She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands,” he told the UK's Telegraph. He took this picture, then quickly returned the rare creature to her home. “She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion,” Mark added.
The Weta was once common throughout New Zealand, but was eventually driven to near-extinction by rats which came over with European settlers. The giant weta, however, escaped that fate by virtue of being really damn big.
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