Mokopirirakau granulatus

Herpetofaunal category
Gray, 1845
Common names
Forest gecko
Mokopirirakau granulatus
Image attribution

"Moko-piri-rakau" is the Maori name for forest gecko.


Dorsal surface ranging from dark brown/reddish brown to pale grey. The dorsal surface sports a series of black and white irregular transverse blotches. The head usually has a dark, thin, V shaped mark on the head between the eyes. The belly is heavily botched. Forest gecko can rapidly change their shade of grey/brown/green to enhance their camouflage with the background (a dark brown animal taken from the leaf litter may become significantly paler, and grey, when placed on a pale branch).

Lining of mouth yellow to orange, tongue pink. Mouth is edged prominently with white scales. Eyes are grey, olive green, or brown. Sometimes have a blue sheen. Soles of feet are yellow, toes have slightly expanded pads with 11-14 lamellae. Toes of northern animals are slightly shorter and broader than those from the South Island.

Forest gecko reach SVL (snout-vent-lengths) of <89mm, with the tail being longer than the SVL.

Click here for information on how forest gecko differ in appearance from other species in the Mokopirirakau group.

Life expectancy

Estimates for captive animals range from 20-30 years (D. Keall, personal communication, September 21, 2016).


Forest: found throughout New Zealand (including some offshore islands), but not in the very far North, Marlborough, and Canterbury.

Ecology and habitat

Forest gecko are generally nocturnal but will sun bask near retreats. However, forest gecko in the upper north island are often active during the day. An arboreal species which live in forest and scrub in leatherwood and shrub areas, as well as beech forest, mixed broadleaf, podocarp forest, and manuka scrub. The species has been recorded in high altitudes (up to 1400m).

Social structure and vocalisation

Mokopirirakau species are generally solitary. Vocalisation among Mokopirirakau can be described as chirrups or shrill squeals when stressed.

Breeding biology

Forest: usually give birth to twins in mid to late summer.


Forest gecko eat insects, moths, flies, fruit and nectar.


The nematode Skrjabinodon poicilandri has been recorded in forest gecko. Mites are a common parasite for Mokopirirakau.


Forest gecko are listed by DOC as 'at risk'. 70 Mokopirirakau granulatus were translocated during 2005–2006 from Orewa-Puhoi to Tawharanui Regional Park in a human-wildlife conflict.


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