Woodworthia maculata

Raukawa gecko | Moko pāpā

Woodworthia maculata
(Gray, 1845)

Raukawa geckos. © Nick Harker
Image attribution
Raukawa geckos. © Nick Harker
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
Not Threatened
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus maculatus,
Hoplodactylus pacificus
Common names
Raukawa gecko,
Common gecko,
Matua gecko,
Moko pāpā.

Length: SVL up to 89mm, with the tail being equal to or longer than the body length

Weight: up to 14 grams

Description

A small to medium sized gecko with a stout tail, often the length of the body. Dorsal (upper) surface largely grey or brown with irregular markings, including black, white, yellow/orange, and olive green patches. Often marked with transverse (blotches or bands), or longitudinal (stripes) markings. A canthal stripe (between the nostril and eye) may or may not be present. Ventral (lower) surface usually plain and pale. Up to 82mm SVL (snout-vent-length). The mouth lining is pink and the tongue is pink with grey tip. The rostral scale does not extend to nostrils. Snout to ear distance ≥ eye to ear distance. Toes have expanded pads (more so than Dactylocnemis geckos): pads extend further in brown gecko). Sexes can be distinguished with males having 1 or 2 blunt enlarged scales either side of the tail base; males also have a broad patch of preanal and femoral pores.

Click here for more information on how common gecko differ in appearance to other species within the Woodworthia complex.

Life expectancy

Estimates of life expectancy vary from 15-27 years in the wild, with reports of at least 37 years for captive animals.

Distribution

Strongly coastal throughout the north-eastern North Island, although more widespread across the lower North Island and northern South Island. Absent from the North Island's west coast north of the Wellington region. In the South Island, Raukawa geckos are confined to the Marlborough and Nelson / Tasman regions.

Ecology and habitat

A terrestrial, saxicolous or arboreal species which can be found across a wide range of habitats (from shorelines to inland beech and broadleaf forest). Nocturnal but will sun bask.

Social structure

Highly gregarious and can form large aggregations in suitable habitats. However, males have been known to be territorial, particularly in captive group situations.

Breeding biology

Ovoviviparous, generally giving birth to twins annually in the late summer.

Diet

Invertebrates, nectar, and the fruit and berries of several native and exotic plant species. Often associated with flowering flax, pohutukawa and honeydew produced by scale insects.

Disease

The Raukawa gecko is known to be a host for several ectoparasitic mites including Geckobia haplodactyli, Neotrombicula naultini, Microtrombicula hoplodactyla, and Ophionyssus galeotes, as well as several endoparasitic nematodes in the Skrjabinodon genus. 
They are also known to suffer from several common reptile diseases including black spot fungi, ulcerative dermatitis, mycotic pneumonitits and mycotic septicaemia.

Conservation status

The species are listed by DOC as 'not threatened' with a large and stable population.

Interesting notes

Raukawa geckos are one of the most widespread species of Woodworthia, with their distribution including the majority of the North Island, as well as the Cook Strait Islands,  Marlborough Sounds and northern South Island. Interestingly at the northern extent of their range - lower Northland to the Bay of Plenty - they are primarily associated with coastal habitats. It has been suggested that this pattern of distribution may be a result of interspecific competition with Pacific geckos (Dactylocnemis pacificus) - a species that shares similarities in its ecology and overlaps within this region (pers.comm Tim Harker).

Raukawa 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.

The specific name ‘maculata’ means ‘speckled’.

References

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