Naultinus tuberculatus

West Coast green gecko

Naultinus tuberculatus
(McCann, 1955)

West Coast green geckos. <a href="https://www.instagram.com/nickharker.nz/">© Nick Harker</a>
Image attribution
West Coast green geckos. © Nick Harker
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
Previous scientific names
Heteropholis tuberculatus,
Heteropholis poecilochlorus.
Common names
West Coast green gecko,
Mossy gecko.

Length: SVL up to 85mm, with the tail being longer than the body length

Weight: up to 14.5 grams

Description

A beautiful and rare species from the West Coast region of the South Island.

West Coast green geckos are mossy in appearance, due to complex patterns of white and yellow shades against green colouration of their body. Ventral (lower) surfaces are paler than dorsal (upper) surfaces. Lining of the mouth is blue, and the tongue is dark blue / black. Eyes are dark olive, pupils often have pale border. Toes narrow and tapering, soles of feet and toes yellow or yellowish green in colour. West Coast green gecko typically reach SVL (snout-vent-lengths) of 77-85mm.

Populations in some areas display sexual dichromatism where male geckos may appear more brown-grey in colour, with green markings. Some of these males appear outwardly similar to Starred geckos (Naultinus stellatus) from the Nelson Lakes area, but can be separated by having a blue versus pink tongue.

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

Life expectancy

The lifespan of West Coast green gecko is largely unknown. Other Naultinus species typically reach up to 25 years.

Distribution

West coast of the South Island.

Ecology and habitat

West coast green gecko are diurnal (active during the day) and arboreal (tree dwelling), in common with other green geckos they have a prehensile tail which acts as a third limb / climbing aid when moving through their habitat.

West Coast green geckos inhabit scrubland and forested areas. Some populations occur in prostrate vegetation.

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

Green gecko are viviparous, giving birth to one or two live young in autumn. In captivity west coast green gecko typically give birth in April/May. 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 West Coast green 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

DOC classify the species as 'nationally vulnerable'.

Interesting notes

A distinctively patterned population of West Coast green geckos in the Lewis Pass area show evidence of past hybridisation with rough geckos (Naultinus rudis), and were once regarded as a separate species - the Lewis Pass green gecko (Naultinus poecilochlorus).

References

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.

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