Tawa Bush Reserve Lizards
With over 90 endemic species, lizards are an overlooked but important part of New Zealand’s biodiversity. New Zealand’s lizard fauna comprises two groups: skinks and geckos. Many lizards are threatened and declining due to loss of habitat and predation.
It is illegal to handle or disturb lizards without a permit from the Department of Conservation.
At least one species of skink and two species of gecko have been recorded in Tawa:
Northern grass skink Oligosoma polychroma
Ngahere gecko Mokopirirakau ‘Southern North Island’
Barking gecko Naultinus punctatus
-Our thanks to Stephen Challands for many photo’s and this information
Northern grass skinks are relatively small, fast moving, ground dwelling animals, with light or dark brown skin. This is a relatively common species which inhabits open, sunny locations within some of the Tawa Bush Reserves. It has a widespread but patchy occurrence within gardens and “wastelands” in Tawa.
Geckos come in a range of colours from light brown to bright green. They have loose looking skin and large eyes which do not blink. They can be found in trees or on the ground in some of our Tawa Bush Reserves.
The Ngahere gecko, sometimes called the Southern North Island Forest gecko, lives in older forests and remnant stands and less usually in secondary bush. They spend the majority of their lives high in the forest canopy. This coupled with the fact they are mainly active at night mean they are rarely seen. They are up to a hand length long (including tail)
– photo credit: Joel Knight
The Barking gecko is active during the day. It is usually found amongst foliage, but this species is very difficult to observe. It is bright green in colour. They are secretive, well camouflaged animals and feed on insects, fruits and nectar. They are thought to be declining on mainland New Zealand, due to predation by introduced mammals, habitat destruction, and even illegal collection by humans. Their predators include rats, cats, mice, mustelids and a variety of native and introduced birds. Text Stephen Challands. Photos by Helen and Stephen Challands.
Recent Posts on Lizards
Stephen Challands reports that New Zealand has over forty species of native geckos, at least two of which are present in Tawa Bush reserves, and also some Tawa gardens. The Barking gecko is active during the day. It is usually found amongst foliage, but this species is very difficult to observe. It is bright greenContinue reading “Gecko sightings in Tawa bush reserves”