Under the Radar:
Green Gecko - Naultinus elegans -Photo Steve Reekie
Lizards belong to the group of animals known as reptiles. This group includes
crocodiles, turtles, snakes, tuatara and lizards. There are lots of different
types of lizards in the world. In New Zealand there are many species of
geckos and skinks.
• There are over 80 different species of lizard in New Zealand.
They are protected under law.
• There were 18 in pre-human Auckland; now there are 6 in urban
• They are found from sea level to over 2000 m.
• The Maori name for lizard is ngarara (or karara in the southern
• Some lizards are active at night (nocturnal) while others only
come out at day (diurnal). Some prefer the twilight (crepuscular).
• The oldest known gecko living in the wild is at least 42 years
old. It lives on an island off the North Canterbury coastline.
• One New Zealand skink lays eggs, but all others give birth to
• The major threats to lizards are introduced predators and habitat
loss. Lizards are eaten by cats, ferrets, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs,
rats, mice, and even some birds like magpies, kingfishers and blackbirds.
• Because lizards are cold-blooded they need heat to become active.
The sun warms rocks, concrete and even tin, which lizards use to heat
themselves up and become active.
• Although the tuatara looks like a lizard, it is actually the last
remaining member of an ancient group of reptiles - Sphenodontia - that
was around during the time of the dinosaur (over 200 million years ago).
Geckos have baggy, velvety skin and broad heads. They eat insects, fruit
They usually give birth to two young in late summer / early autumn. Geckos
live in tree crevices and branches in trees. They are very cryptic (hard
to find, blending in with their environment) and live a long time - up
to 36 years.
Geckos (and lizards in general) love ecotones (edge environments) and
vegetation zones such as scrubland, native bush remnants and grasslands
where they can find coprosma, meuhlenbeckia and pohutukawa.
The green gecko is the most ‘famous’ and recognisable gecko.
But it is currently very rarely seen in Auckland.
Skinks have shiny, tight-fitting skins and look like snakes with legs.
They eat insects and fruit and are ground dwellers. Skinks usually have
three to six babies each year, but sometimes more than ten. Skinks like
moist environments with cover to hide from predators. Their vegetation
preferences include flax ,sedges, ground covers, leaf litter, and mulch.
The most common skink in Auckland is the brown or copper skink.
The New Zealand