At least 39 species of gecko live in New Zealand, however only 18 of these species have been described. These species show a great variety in size and colour, and range from bright greens and yellows to camouflage greys and browns. New Zealand geckos are also unique in that they give birth to live young rather than lay eggs, something that is only shared with geckos from New Caledonia.
Geckos are extremely cryptic and difficult to detect, especially on mainland New Zealand. They are also under threat from introduced predators and habitat destruction, which has resulted in low population densities.
However, there is potential for geckos to be discovered in your backyard. They are attracted to large areas of dense divaricating shrubs such as coprosma species which provide safe cover, but also provides fruit and attract insects for geckos to feed on. They also enjoy kawakawa which provide fruit and flax, while mānuka and rātā offer nectar.
This is something to consider for any site development project. Our ecology team at 4sight are often seen heading out at night to spotlight for geckos, whose eyes reflect their scanning torches enabling them to assess species presence. This enables our ecologists to monitor gecko populations for an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEEs) and evaluate the impacts and monitoring outcomes as part of mitigation requirements of the Resource Management Act.
Photo courtesy of Paul Caiger, who is currently a PhD student at the Leigh Marine Laboratory studying fish ecology. When the weather is too rough to go diving, Paul can be found in the bush searching for reptiles to photograph.