Length: SVL up to 77mm, with the tail being longer than the body length
Weight: up to 15.5 grams
A unique and beatifully coloured green gecko from the north-eastern South Island. Rough geckos get their name from the very distinctive raised (or domed), tubercule scales covering the dorsal surface of their body. The largest of these scales are on the snout and along the line between the nostril and the eye.
Dorsal colouration is variable, from dark green to grey with white or sometimes brown spots or blotches that may have black edging. Ventral (lower) surface pale grey or brown with longitudinal stripes. Lining of the mouth dark blue/purple; tongue dark grey at base becoming pink towards tip. Dark green eyes with pupils often highlighted with pale border.
May be confused with Marlborough green geckos (Naultinus manukanus) from the southern part of their range, which often have a similar abundance of raised scales. However, they are geographically separated by the Wairau river with rough geckos occuring south of that dividing line.
Captive animals have been known to live over 50 years (Richard Brosnan, pers. comm. 2021).
Inland Marlborough south of the Wairau river, and northern Canterbury.
Ecology and habitat
An arboreal species most frequently found in manuka/kanuka scrub and forest. Generally diurnal but can also be active at night.
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).
Rough gecko are viviparous, giving birth to live young (usually two) in March/April (D. Keall, personal communication, September 22, 2016).
The diet of rough 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.
DOC classify rough gecko as 'Threatened - Nationally vulnerable'.
Both the scientific and common names refer to the granular scales the species is well known for.
Gill, B.J., & Whitaker, A.H. (2007). New Zealand frogs and reptiles. Auckland: David Bateman Ltd.
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 Publishers.
Robb, J. (1980). Three new species of gekkonid lizards, genera Hoplodactylus Fitzinger and Heteropholis Fischer, from New Zealand. National Museum of New Zealand records 1(19), 305-310.
van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 376 pp.