Jewelled Gecko - Naultinus gemmeus
The jewelled gecko varies in colour and pattern more than any other New Zealand gecko. Its main populations are on the Otago and Banks Peninsula, although specimens are also found on the eastern slopes of the Southern Alps. In addition to these populations a small Southland population exists, the occasional specimen is also found on Codfish Island, and a single specimen was found on Green Island (Morris & Alison, 2008).The Otago population is close to extinction due to pasture development.
Jewelled gecko are active during the day and found in a wide variation of vegetation types, but like most New Zealand geckos are usually found in scrub such as manuka. The jewelled gecko eat insects and moths, and the young are born in late summer or early autumn. The males and females of the Otago Peninsular population are base green in colour with yellow or white markings, such as the females from Banks Peninsular. The male jewelled geckos from the Banks Peninsular are never green - but variations of brown and gray with white, yellow and purple highlights. The Southland population is solid green.
It is now thought that the jewelled gecko is ancestral to all green geckos. In 2002, attempts by the Department of Conservation to tighten controls of international trade in green geckos, by use of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), were unsuccessful. Fines and periods of imprisonment were, however, increased. Even low levels of poaching can place small populations of jewelled gecko at risk of extinction.
© Images Dr Paddy Ryan