Woodworthia "Marlborough mini"

Minimac gecko

Woodworthia "Marlborough mini"

Minimac gecko (south Wellington coast). <a href="https://www.instagram.com/nickharker.nz/">© Nick Harker</a>
Image attribution
Minimac gecko (south Wellington coast). © Nick Harker
Herpetofaunal category
NZ Geckos
Species complex
Conservation Status
Not Threatened
Previous scientific names
Hoplodactylus maculatus
Common names
Minimac gecko,
Marlborough mini gecko.

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

Weight: unknown

Description

A small, and often beautifully patterned Woodworthia known from the north-eastern South Island, and Wellington regions. The species is characterised by its alternating light and dark markings on the dorsal surfaces, but may occasionally be almost uniform. 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 are often a uniform light-brown or grey colour, with or without light brown speckling.

There is some overlap between the Minimac gecko and several other Woodworthia species. They can be differentiated from the co-occurring Raukawa (Woodworthia maculata), Southern Alps (Woodworthia "Southern Alps"), and Waitaha geckos (Woodworthia cf. brunnea) by their smaller size and differences in colouration and patterning. Can be quite hard to differentiate from the closely related Pygmy (Woodworthia "pygmy"), and Kaikouras gecko (Woodworthia "Kaikouras"), but in general they are larger and have more contrasting markings than the former, and are smaller and have less contrasting markings than the latter.

Life expectancy

Unknown.

Distribution

Restricted to coastal, and non-forested regions of Marlborough, north-east Nelson, and northern Canterbury. A population is also present on the western coastline of Wellington.

Ecology and habitat

A nocturnal species, that is saxicolous and terrestrial. Found in a variety of habitats from the coast, where it inhabits boulder beach habitats, through to the alpine zone where it is associated with rocky habitats (screes, talus slopes, and rock outcrops). In the Wellington region, they are primarily restricted to coastal habitats.  

Social structure

Can reach high densities in some habitats, but unlike other saxicolous Woodworthia species, they do not tend to congregate in large numbers within refuge sites.

Breeding biology

Viviparous (live-bearing). Up to two young born between February and March.

Diet

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

Disease

Largely unknown.

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

Conservation strategy

The Minimac gecko is classed as a "Not Threatened" species by DOC, although mammalian pests are a serious threat to them throughout their range. This species is not being actively managed.

Interesting notes

Minimac 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.