Woodworthia "Kaikouras"

Kaikouras gecko

Woodworthia "Kaikouras"

Kaikouras gecko (Kaikōura). <a href="https://www.instagram.com/samanimalman/?hl=en">© Samuel Purdie</a>
Image attribution
Kaikouras gecko (Kaikōura). © Samuel Purdie
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus maculatus
Common names
Kaikouras gecko

Length: SVL up to 65mm, with the tail being shorter than the body length

Weight: unknown

Description

A small, and often beautifully patterned Woodworthia known from a few scattered localities in the Kaikōura ranges and eastern Marlborough. The species is characterised by its alternating light and dark markings on the dorsal surfaces. The base colour is brown to grey, with the lighter brown to whitish-grey markings appearing as banding, or irregular / offset blotching. A dark stripe runs from the nostril through the eye onto the back of the neck. The sides of the animal are often the same brown to grey as the upper surfaces, and often have irregular grey or light brown blotching. The lower surfaces of the animal is often a uniform cream colour.

There is some overlap between the Kaikouras gecko and the closely related minimac gecko (Woodworthia "Marlborough mini"). It is quite difficult to differentiate these two species but in general the Kaikouras gecko is larger and has more contrasting dorsal markings.

Life expectancy

Unknown

Distribution

Restricted to eastern Marlborough, and Kaikōura, being only known from a small number of localities within the Kaikōura Ranges and Haldon Hills. 

Ecology and habitat

A nocturnal species, that is saxicolous and terrestrial. Ranging from lowland habitats through to the alpine zone; it is often found in association with complex rock features (screes, rock outcrops, and boulder fields). 

Social structure

Largely unknown, but as with other saxicolous Woodworthia species is likely to congregate in large numbers in refugia.

Breeding biology

Largely unknown, but likely to be similar to other Woodworthia species with lowland and alpine populations e.g. individuals in lowland populations producing up to two young annually, whilst populations in alpine environments would reproduce biennially.

Diet

As with other members of the Woodworthia genus, Kaikouras geckos are likely to be omnivorous, feeding on a variety of invertebrates, as well as the nectar and fruit / berries of native plants.

Disease

Largely unknown.

Kaikouras geckos have been recorded with ectoparasitic mites in the wild.

Conservation strategy

The Kaikouras gecko is classed as a "Naturally Uncommon" species by DOC being restricted to a few localities within the Kaikōura Ranges and Haldon Hills. This species is not being actively managed.

Interesting notes

Kaikouras geckos are members of the 'common gecko' complex, a group of closely related species which are regionally distributed throughout New Zealand. Historically, most of these were considered a single highly-variable species - Hoplodactylus maculatus (the so called 'common gecko'). The 'common gecko' has now been separated into over ten different species.

References

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 Publishing.

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