Naultinus rudis

Rough gecko

Naultinus rudis
(Fischer, 1882)

Rough geckos (Kaikōura - upper two; Hanmer - lower). <a href="">© Samuel Purdie</a> (above), <a href="">© Nick Harker</a> (middle and lower).
Image attribution
Rough geckos (Kaikōura - upper two; Hanmer - lower). © Samuel Purdie (above), © Nick Harker (middle and lower).
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
Threatened - Nationally Endangered
Previous scientific names
Heteropholis rudis
Common names
Rough gecko

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/grey; tongue dark grey/blue often transitioning to 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.

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

Life expectancy

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.

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

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.


Largely unknown.

Conservation status

DOC classify rough gecko as 'Threatened - Nationally endangered'.

Interesting notes

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.

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.

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). 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.