New Zealand Lizards
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
Geckos have a broader almost froglike head than skinks and tend to be stouter
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
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.
Insects of a suitable size are the main part of the diet, supplemented
with berries and in some instances nectar from flowers.
New Zealand Skinks - Scincidae
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.
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.
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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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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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.
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New Zealand Geckos - geckonidae
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.
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.
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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.
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
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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.
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.
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