This gorgeous wee Forest Gecko made an appearance on Kate’s doorstep, possibly looking for somewhere to shelter.
They are always a treat when we get to see one of these critters as they do keep themselves well hidden, especially with their bark like colouring. They are always a good reminder of why we keep doing what we are doing. To protect all of the native critters in our beautiful local bush.
By getting rat, mice, possum, stoat, weasel numbers down we not only help our native bird populations, but all of our native critters.
The Forest Gecko also goes by their formal classification name: mokopirirakau granulatus.
Mokopirirakau is maori for ‘lizard that clings to trees’. Which is where these little guys like to hang out eating spiders, flies, beetles and moths. As well as small berries and nectar from native flowers.
They are a widespread and variable gecko with intricate bark-like patterns. Forest geckos are one of the more commonly-encountered geckos in the upper North Island and north-western South Island, but are in decline over most of their range.
Their colouration varies from dark or reddish brown through to pale grey. Their pattern is a series of black and white irregular transverse blotches. The head usually has a dark, thin, V shaped mark between the eyes. The belly is grey and heavily botched.
Forest gecko are capable of rapid changes in the shade of their colour. This may be for the purpose of thermoregulation (darker colours absorb heat faster) or to enhance their camouflage with the background (a dark brown animal taken from the leaf litter may become significantly paler, and grey, when placed on a pale branch).
The lining of the mouth is yellow to orange, tongue is pink, yellow or bright orange. Mouth is edged prominently with white scales. Eyes are grey, olive green, or brown, sometimes with a blue sheen. Soles of feet are yellow, toes have slightly expanded pads.
They make chirrups and sharp shrills if stressed.
If you would like to know more about these local critters take a look at reptiles.org.nz .
What do you do if you find one (your cat finds one)?
Take care not to stress them out too much and quietly return them to a safe part of your yard, near trees and tree litter to give them cover. If your cat was responsible make sure they are out of sight of where you have returned the gecko. Give the gecko space to relax and make its own retreat, and try not to handle it too much.