Dactylocnemis pacificus

Herpetofaunal category
Gray, 1842
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus pacificus
Common names
Pacific gecko
Dactylocnemis pacificus
Image attribution


The pacific gecko is a slender, medium sized gecko reaching up to 95mm SVL (snout-vent-length). The dorsal (upper) surface is brown to olive green or grey with a wide variety of markings including blotches, stripes, chevrons, or bands. Some individuals have mustard yellow spots or blotches, especially across the nape of the neck. Occasionally individuals may also have pink or orange shading. The head may have a V–shaped marking between the eyes with a wide pale stripe stretching from one ear to the other. Ventral (lower) surfaces are usually uniform in colour.

The mouth and tongue are pink mouth and eyes are brown. The snout to eye distance is greater than eye to ear. The rostral scales are in close contact with nostrils; 9-16 labial scales; 8-14 lower labial scales. The species have slender toes with extended pads which have 10-16 lamellae (thin membranous layers which help the gecko adhere to surfaces).

The markings on this species may often be brighter and with greater contrast compared to the Woodworthia maculatus (Common Gecko).

Life expectancy

Largely unknown, estimates for captive animals range from 15-20 years.


Widespread throughout the North Island and offshore islands in the north.

Ecology and habitat

Pacific gecko are nocturnal, and are rarely seen sun basking near retreats. An arboreal and terrestrial species which are found in a variety of habitats including: forest, scrub, clay banks, rocky bluffs and outcrops.

Social structure

A very timid and nervous species. Little is known about the social structure of Pacific gecko; although often found at high density on some island populations.

Breeding biology

Pacific gecko are ovoviviparous (give birth to live young), giving birth to one or two offspring on an annual basis in late summer.


Invertebrates, honey dew, and nectar.


Parasites of pacific gecko include: nematodes (Skrjabinodon poicilandri; Skrjabinodon sp.); tremadoes (Paradisomum pacificus), and protozoa (Haemogregarina sp.), as well as the external parasites Geckobia hoplodactyli and Ophionyssus sp.

Conservation strategy

Pacific gecko are classified as 'relict' with a population of > 20,000 mature individuals and a stable or increasing population (>10%). The species have secure island populations but are in decline on the mainland. As with all New Zealand species of gecko, threats include: mammalian predators, habitat alteration and destruction.

Interesting notes

Previously Hoplodactylus pacificus.


  • Bull, P.C., & Whitaker, A.H. (1975). The amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. In G. Kuschel (Ed.). Biogeography and Ecology in New Zealand (pp. 231-276). The Hague: Junk.
  • Jewell, T. (2008). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland.
  • Hitchmough, R.A. (1997). A systematic review of the New Zealand Gekkonidae. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington.
  • Hitchmough, R.A., Barr, B., Lettink, M., Monks, J., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J. (2016). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015; New Zealand threat classification series 17. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conservation.
  • Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland.
  • Keall, 2016. Personal communication.
  • Whitaker, A.H. (1987). The roles of lizards in New Zealand plant reproductive strategies. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 25, 2, 315-328.