02/12/2011 06:01 GMT

Weta Find! World's Largest Insect Weighs Three Times More Than A Mouse (Pictures)

The world’s biggest insect has been found on a remote island in New Zealand, and it weighs three times more than a mouse.

Nature lover Mark Moffett found the giant weta up a tree on the Little Barrier Island and even managed to feed the critter a carrot.

He was delighted to find that at 71g, it was the largest insect ever recorded in terms of weight.

The 53-year-old former park ranger said: ‘Three of us walked the trails of this small island for two nights scanning the vegetation for a giant weta.

“We spent many hours with no luck finding any at all, before we saw her up in a tree.

“The giant weta is the largest insect in the world, and this is the biggest one ever found, she weighs the equivalent to three mice.”

With a wing span of seven inches, the more squeamish traveller might be put off by the weta, but Moffett was fascinated.

The rare species used to live on the mainland but were made extinct by rats. The massive insect is an example of island giganticsm, where species thrive because of a lack of natural predators.

Moffett told the Daily Mail:

"She enjoyed the carrot so much she seemed to ignore the fact she was resting on our hands and carried on munching away.

"She would have finished the carrot very quickly, but this is an extremely endangered species and we didn't want to risk indigestion.

"After she had chewed a little I took this picture and we put her right back where we found her."