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NEW ZEALAND LIZARDS.
Currently there is in excess of one hundred species of lizards recognised in New Zealand, all belonging to one of two families either geckos or skinks. Worldwide there are about  twenty six families such as monitors, dragons chameleons etc.
Some of the differences in the two families are as follows:
As their scales overlap skinks tend to have a smooth glossy appearance while in geckos the scales do not, giving them a more velvety or matt finish.
Geckos have a broader almost froglike head than skinks and tend to be stouter generally.
Skinks can close their eyes with a moveable lower eyelid whereas New Zealand geckos eyes are covered with a clear disc and are in effect open all the time.
Geckos  have adhesive pads under their feet which aids them in climbing, skinks do not have these.

All New Zealand lizards, also the tuatara, are protected by law. They must not be kept or captured without a permit issued by the Department of Conservation.
 
 
 


 

Reproduction
With the exception of one species, the egglaying skink, all New Zealand lizards are live bearers. The females still produce eggs to nourish the developing babies, as opposed to mammals where babies are directly connected to the mother for nourishment. By retaining the eggs within the female lizard can control to some extent the hatching temperature rather than relying on the conditions to remain stable as needed for eggs deposited. New Zealand's temperate and changeable climate makes the egg retention a better option. Geckos normally produce two babies while skinks  can have clutches of up to eight for some of the larger species. There is no parental care and the young are self reliant from the start.

Feeding
Insects of a suitable size are the main part of the diet, supplemented with berries and in some instances nectar from flowers.



 
 
 

New Zealand lizards at the Reptile Park


Family Scincidae - Skinks
Three Kings Is. skinkO. fallai
Northern brown skink O. moco
Shore skink  O. smithii
Striped skink  O. striatum
Otago skink  O. otagense
Robust skink  C. alani
Family geckonidae - Geckos
Northland green gecko N. greyii
Green gecko  N. elegans
Forest gecko H. granulatus
Goldstripe geckoH. chrysosireticus
Duvaucels gecko H. duvauceli
Nelson green gecko H. stellatus 

 
 



New Zealand Skinks - Scincidae

Falla's or Three Kings Islands Skink  Oligosoma fallai  Found only on the Three Kings Islands inhabiting areas with rocks and low bushes. Diurnal, it is one of the larger New Zealand skinks and feeds on insects, berries from low growing bushes and sometimes fish regurgitated from seabirds. It is not usual for the ones at the Reptile Park to spend some time
basking in the shrubs in their enclosure, especially juveniles possibly seeking a safe haven away from the adults. There does seem to recognition amongst the group as there is some tolerance to young born within it but none to those introduced from outside. The young are produced usually in January or February and there can be as many as eight to a litter.
 
 
 

Falla's Skink, Three Kings Islands skink Oligosoma fallai Skinks have moveable lower eyelid   Glossy appearance


Northern Brown Skink Oligosoma moco Becoming scarce on the Northeastern portion of the North Island where it once was widespread and  may soon be restricted to the offshore islands of that area. Lives in open country near the coast, diurnal.
Shore Skink  Oligosoma smithii From the Northern half of the North Island where it lives very close to the shoreline, diurnal.
 
 
 
Northern brown skink
Shore skink


Striped Skink  Oligosoma striatum Only from the North Island this skink is considered endangered. It is found in epiphytes in standing trees as well as rotting ones on the ground, diurnal.
 
 
 

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Otago Skink Oligosoma otagense  Probably the largest to live on either of the two main islands this skink was once widespread throughout the Otago region of the South Island but is now  restricted to two separate areas.  Diurnal it inhabits rocky outcrops in grassland areas where it enjoys sunbasking. Its food consists of available insects, spiders etc plus fair proportion of berries from low bushes. The young usually two or three are produced in Summer [late January or February] and are relatively large in comparison to other skinks.
Currently there is a recovery programme in place to try to stem the alarming reduction in numbers of this beautiful skink.
 
 
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Robust Skink Cyclodina alani Occurs only on a few offshore islands North East of the North Island. Possibly the largest New Zealand skink it is forest dwelling, nocturnal but will on occasions bask in the sun, usually in the morning. It feeds on all manner of ground insects as well as any flying ones that circumstances allow. At the Reptile Park they are fed crickets, locusts, mealworms,  moths [we have found even large moths such as puriri moths can be consumed] and other insects as available. They also fed comercial pet jellimeat and pureed pears, the latter suggesting that they eat berries in the wild but as they are poor climbers probably rely on fallen ones rather those still on the bushes. A single litter, normally on alternate years, of up to eight young is produced in March or April.
 
Large eyes are useful for this nocturnal skink
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New Zealand Geckos - geckonidae

Northland Green Gecko  Naultinus greyii From Northland, diurnal, inhabits manuka or similar bushes where it feeds on insects and berries. Some are plain green others are patterned with grey or yellow blotches or stripes which are unique to each lizard, a female can produce one patterned and one plain green youngster in the same litter.  They are unable to change their colour or even adjust the tone of it. The inside of the mouth is blue and the tongue red. A litter of twins are produced in March or April.
 

velvety, matt finish



Auckland Green Gecko Naultinus elegans elegans  From upper half of the North Island excluding Northland, habits similar to Northland Green. It is smaller in size than the Northland species and the inside of its mouth and tongue a much deeper shade of mauve. Occasionally the green is replaced by a sulphur-yellow colour but the lizard may still be mottled with a lighter colour. This colour varient does appear in some of the other species of green geckos. Normally the young are produced in August but at the Reptile Park they sometimes appear in the Autumn which is not unusual for others in captivity.
 
 
 
When adults geckos cast their skins annually
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Forest Gecko  Hoplodactylus granulatus  Occurs throughout New Zealand in bush and scrub, mainly nocturnal although it will bask on sunny days. As with the green coloured tree geckos, especially those with some patterning, that blend beautifully amongst the leaves the forest gecko's pattern  resembles tree bark so well that the lizard can be almost invisible on the branches and trunk and bask there in relative saftey during the day venturing out into the foliage at night to forage. Although nocturnal the ones at the Reptile Park are quite active during the day feed on flies moths etc plus fruit and honey in place of the berries e.g. coprosma they eat naturally.
 
Two perfectly camoflaged geckos

Nelson Green Gecko  Heteropholis stellatus    Also known as the star gecko this gecko is restricted to the
Nelson province but can show different patterning depending on the area they are from. The one on the left is from the Nelson Lakes district and the one on the right from The Maitai Valley.
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Goldstripe Gecko  Hoplodactylus chrysosireticus  From coastal Taranaki living  under rocks or logs or the base of flax type bushes, seeming to prefer long leaved varieties  rather than those with conventional leaves. It is mainly nocturnal though it will bask amongst the leaves of low bushes. Its food consists or insects such as flies, moths, earwigs etc that it would encounter in its habitat. It is unusual in that unlike most of our other natives will frequent gardens and farms utilising old timber and other building materials for shelter. The young are produced usually February or March.
 
 
Adhesive pads on underside of geckos foot


Duvaucel's Gecko Hoplodactylus duvauceli The largest New Zealand gecko, no longer occurs on the mainland but found on offshore islands from Cook Strait northwards where it lives in rocky or forested areas, active at night but will bask in the sun.  Feeds on all  manner of nocturnal insects that it would encounter naturally and at the Reptile Park any of the insects that we breed for food are readily accepted as are offerings of honey, pears or banana. In the wild they have recorded taking berries and nectar from flax and other similar flowers even climbing to the top of pohutukawa trees when in flower. Rather large babies normally twins are produced in the Autumn.
 
 
 
 
Gecko eye covered by clear disc
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