Herpetofaunal category
Hutton, 1872
Common names
Starred gecko
Nelson green gecko
Naultinus stellatus
Image attribution
Joel Knight


Highly variable in pattern and colour. Dorsal (upper) surfaces are bright to dark olive green with rows of large transverse splotches which are white, light green or grey brown and sometimes outlined with fine black lines. Ventral (lower) surfaces light grey or brown with pale streaks or stripes. Males often sport grey or chocolate brown ‘background’ colours with green markings. Young are born dark green with white markings, but change to their adult colouration at 18 months to two years of age.

Lining of mouth dark blue/purple; tongue pink/olive at tip and dark grey at base. Eyes are orange/brown or light to dark olive, pupils sometimes have pale border. Nelson green gecko reach SVL (snout-vent-lengths) of up to 80mm.

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

Life expectancy

One starred gecko was reported to have reached the age of 47 years in captivity (H. Pukloswki pers. comm. in Hare et al. (2007).


Northwest South Island: Nelson province from Bryant Range to the western coast.

Ecology and habitat

Starred gecko are diurnal (active during the day) are arboreal (tree dwelling), inhabiting scrubland and forested areas, 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

In captive group situations males can display aggressive behaviour towards other males as a result of competition for mates. Green gecko will display aggressive behaviour if threatened; this consists of mouth gaping, biting, lunging, and vocalisation (a barking sound).

Breeding biology

Green gecko are viviparous, giving birth to one or two live young. 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).

Wild starred gecko give birth in late summer through to autumn. Captive geckos typically give birth in April/May.


The diet of starred gecko consists primarily of insects such as flies, beetles, and moths. Captive and wild green gecko will also eat nectar/honeydew.


The nematode Skrjabinodon poicilandri has been recorded in starred gecko. A captive starred gecko was reported to have died as a result of an infestation of blowfly maggots (which entered via the ear).

Conservation status

DOC classify the species as 'nationally vulnerable' with a population of 20,000 - 10,000 mature individuals and a predicted decline of 50-70%.


  • 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.
  • 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.