January 24, 2008
This news release, regarding the Wellington Green
Gecko, was sent to us from Alan Dicks of the
Karori Sanctuary in New Zealand. Pictures below.
elusive Wellingtonian has made a surprise re-appearance
after an absence of nearly 30 years.
Once widespread throughout the Region, the Wellington
green gecko has been in gradual decline for
many years due to habitat loss and predation. Although
reports from the capital are not unheard of, most sightings
come from outside of the city. The last reliable sighting
in Karori was nearly 30 years ago. Surveys by herpetologists
since 2003 have recorded six lizard species in the Sanctuary
but the green gecko was notably absent.
‘When I saw the photo of a green gecko on the
Sanctuary fence, it really made my day’ said Sanctuary
conservation scientist Raewyn Empson.
‘If they have survived outside the fence, then
there is every chance there is still a population living
inside the Sanctuary too. We have never ruled out the
possibility, but searches to date have been unsuccessful.
Now at least we know where to start looking.’
Despite their showy colouring, green geckos are notoriously
hard to .’spot. To help visitors know what to
look out for, Karori Sanctuary recently got funding
from the New Zealand Community Trust to create a green
gecko enclosure as part of their display on native lizards.
‘It’s great to give our visitors the opportunity
to see these animals close up’ says Ms Empson.
‘You’re doing well if you see all six –
it really makes you appreciate how well-camouflaged
they are. We hope that once visitors know what they’re
looking for, people will start finding them out in the
All New Zealand lizards are legally
protected, but under threat from habitat destruction
and predators. The good news is it’s not hard
to help them out by making your backyard more lizard-friendly.
Here are a few pointers:
1. Make hiding places out of rock heaps, or make a
2. Plant native grasses to attract delicious insects
or dense native shrubs like Coprosma spp, whose berries
lizards also like to eat.
3. Control mice and rats in your backyard by trapping
4. Cats are significant predators of lizards. Look
at the Department of Conservation’s website for
their responsible cat ownership recommendations.
5. Report all gecko sightings to the nearest DOC office.
6. Check out the new lizard display at Karori Sanctuary
or contact your local DOC office for more ideas!
More information on native geckos:
- There are at least 39 species of gecko in New Zealand
- The Wellington green gecko (Naultinus elegans punctatus)
is endemic to New Zealand
- It is found only in the southern half of the North
- It is larger and greener than the closely-related
Auckland green gecko (Naultinus elegans elegans) which
lives in the north of the North Island
- Geckos are the only lizards that
are able to vocalise. New Zealand geckos produce a chirping
- Geckos have ‘sticky’ feet: their toes
are covered with microscopic hairs that allow them to
climb sheer surfaces and even walk upside down across
the ceiling. They are one of the few land animals that
could make it over the Sanctuary’s fence!
- New Zealand geckos are unusual in that they give
birth to live young rather than laying eggs; the only
other geckos that do this live in New Caledonia.
Let me in! A mountain biker snapped this rare Wellington
green gecko on the outside of the Karori Sanctuary
fence. Green geckos haven’t been recorded in the
area since the late 70s. Photo by by Tom Lynch.
Wellington Green Gecko on Sanctuary
fence by Daniel Coe