Naultinus punctatus

Barking gecko | Moko kākāriki

Naultinus punctatus
(Gray, 1843)

Barking Geckos (Wellington)
Image attribution
Barking geckos (Wellington). © Nick Harker (upper), © Joel Knight (middle and lower)
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
At Risk - Declining
Previous scientific names
Naultinus elegans punctatus
Common names
Barking gecko,
Wellington green gecko,
Moko kākāriki.

Length: SVL up to 95mm, with the tail being longer than the body length

Weight: unknown

Description

Bright pale to bluish green dorsal (upper) surfaces, sometimes flecked with fine black marks and rows of pale green, yellow or white patches (usually not outlined as with other species). Males may have bluish flanks. Ventral (lower) surface a pale green.

Lining of mouth deep blue with black or bluish back tongue. Eyes are light orange/brown. Soles of feet are yellow. Barking gecko reach SVL (snout-vent-lengths) of 75–95mm SVL.

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

Life expectancy

Reports on life expectancy vary, barking gecko may live up to 25 years.

Distribution

Lower North Island south of the Central Plateau to Wellington, including Kapiti Island, Mana Island, and Somes Island in Wellington harbour.

Ecology and habitat

Barking geckos are diurnal (active during the day) and strongly arboreal (tree dwelling) although they will move through grasslands and ground cover between habitats. They often inhabit pioneer scrubland and regenerating forest types, in particular occupying the foliage of trees and shrubs, including manuka and kanuka trees.

All green geckos have prehensile tails which act as a climbing aid.

Social structure

All green gecko species are solitary and can often be aggressively territorial. In captive group situations green geckos can often display aggressive behaviour, particularly biting, towards conspecifics (particularly aggression between males as a result of competition for mates). Green geckos will also display aggressive behaviour if threatened; this consists of mouth gaping, biting, lunging, and vocalisation (a barking sound).

Breeding biology

Barking gecko are viviparous, giving birth to one or two live young. Barking gecko mate in early spring with young born in autumn. Sexual maturity is reached between one and two years. Some keepers have noticed that green gecko in captivity appear to express ‘choice’ as to when to mate and reproduce according to conditions (D. Keall, personal communication, September 22, 2016).

Diet

The diet of barking geckos is omnivorous, and consists primarily of invertebrates such as flies, beetles, spiders and moths. Green geckos are generally ‘sit and wait’ predators for invertebrates, however will forage for soft berries and nectar from native flowers within their home range.

Disease

Largely unknown.

Conservation status

Barking gecko are classified by DOC as 'at risk' with a predicted decline of 10-70%

Interesting notes

Interestingly, this species may have been the first native lizard to be kept in captivity. William Colenso (1811-1899) kept a small group of these animals (which at the time he called Naultinus pentagonalis) that had been collected from Tikokino (formerly Hampden). These animals subsequently gave birth to young and were studied over a two year period.

Genetic studies looking at the Naultinus genus resulted in a phylogenetic and taxonomic review in 2011, with the elegant gecko (Naultinus elegans) and barking gecko being elevated from subspecies to full species status.

References

Colenso, W. (1880). Notes and observations on the animal economy and habits of one of our New Zealand lizards, supposed to be a new species of Naultinus. In Trans Proc NZ Inst (Vol. 12, pp. 251-264).

Colenso, W. (1886). Further notes and observations on the gestation, birth, and young of a lizard, a species of Naultinus. Trans. Proc. New Zeal. Inst19, 147-150.

Fischer, S.M. (2013). Conservation biology and wildlife management in New Zealand: endemic reptile species, urban avifauna, and wetland ecology (unpublished BSc honours dissertation). Massey University: Auckland, New Zealand.

Gill, B.J., & Whitaker, A.H. (1996). New Zealand frogs and reptiles. Auckland: David Bateman Limited.

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.

Hitchmough, R., Barr, B., Knox, C., Lettink, M., Monks, J. M., Patterson, G. B., Reardon, J. T., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J., & Michel, P. (2021). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2021New Zealand threat classification series 35. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conversation.

Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishers Ltd.

Nielson , S.V., Bauer, A.M., Jackman, T.R., Hitchmough, R.A., & Daugherty, C.H. (2011). New Zealand geckos (Diplodactylae): Cryptic diversity in a post-Gondwanan lineage with trans-Tasman affinities. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 59, 1, 1-22.

Robb, J. (1980). New Zealand amphibians and reptiles in colour. Auckland, New Zealand: Collins.

Robb, J., & Hitchmough, R.A. (1980). Review of the genus Naultinus grey (Reptilia: Gekknonidae). Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum, 16, 189-200.

van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 376 pp.