Conservation: What can you do?

Create a lizard friendly garden

Ways you can create suitable habitat in your garden for lizards:

  • Don’t keep a cat and dissuade neighbourhood cats from visiting your garden.
  • Encourage thick plant growth along borders, hedgerows, and banks.
  • Place logs and corrugated iron, or Onduline®, around the garden in areas where plants can grow over them.
  • Mulch as much as possible and encourage a deep leaf litter.
  • Create rockeries with lots of loosely placed stones and stone heaps (don’t embed the stones into the soil).
  • Plant dense ground cover species.
  • Plant berry or nectar producing species, native divaricating shrubs such as Muehlenbeckia complexa and Coprosma acerosa are particularly good.
  • Create north facing inclines (this provides a thermal environment).
  • Leave cracks when building walls, this works well in brick and stone walls.
  • Provide variety, wild skinks often live along habitat edges (e.g. retreating under logs or in cracks, venturing out  to sun bask and hunt in adjoining open garden).
  • Allow native, non weed vines to reach roofs so that geckos can get in and out.

The following links provide helpful information for specific regions of New Zealand:

Control rodents in your garden

Depending on where the lizard garden is and how big the garden is, putting poison bait out may not have much of an impact on the mice living there or coming into it. This is because there is sometimes a delay period of up to 2 weeks before a mouse dies after eating the bait (this is also dependent on how much bait it has eaten).  If mice are constantly coming into the garden from outside, then baiting inside the garden wouldn’t have any effect - unless you set up a 50m buffer zone of bait stations around the outside of the garden!!!

If the garden is near the house and it is not too big, traps may be the best option. Snap traps need to be ‘out of reach’ of lizards yet still open for mice (there have been cases of skinks setting them off). Traps can be baited with peanut butter and elevated off the ground to reduce the likelihood of lizards getting into them.

The garden can also be ‘enhanced’ so that lizards have hiding places that mice can’t get into (refer to the tips above). Perhaps try small brick or stone piles, stacked or piled in such a way that the gaps between are too small for mice but big enough for lizards - lizards can squeeze into the tiniest of crevices so this isn't too hard. Brick piles usually don't make the prettiest looking gardens, however, there are many alternatives. Often little piles can be great for lizards to use as basking sites, and make great places to see the lizards in the garden as well.

Limit or halt use of pesticides

Pesticides are toxic substances used to kill weeds (herbicides), fungus (fungicides), rodents (rodenticides), and insects (insecticides). Herbicides such as Roundup are known to kill native herpetofauna.

If you intend to clear areas of the garden, construct some lizard-friendly habitat first with layered dead wood and logs, rocks, and some dense planting to provide cover from predators.

If you need to control pampas or invasive exotics, first vigorously work in the bush to encourage the departure of the lizards. If animals are found after clearing activities, relocate them in some nearby dense foliage such as a ponga or flax.

Try natural methods of pest control such as cardboard roach traps:

First, soak some bread in beer. (American Roaches are born inebriants and love all things alcoholic. If you're not trying to catch American Roaches, then use a daub of peanut butter, instead.) Next, put it in a glass jar and then coat the inner lip of the jar with some cooking oil. The roach will be drawn to the food, climb into the jar, and after engorging itself, won't be able to escape. It will constantly slip on the oil, falling back into the jar. Tricky trap, huh? And simple: Just toss the roach outside, and you're problem is gone. Repeat until roaches stop appearing in the jar. At that point, your house is finally roach free.

For more ideas visit natural insect pest control.

References