A small to medium sized gecko with a stout tail, often the length of the body. Dorsal (upper) surface largely grey or brown with irregular markings, including black, white, yellow/orange, and olive green patches. Marking are usually transverse (blotches or bands), however, longitudinal markings (stripes) can be found in some specimens. A canthal stripe (between the nostril and eye) may or may not be present. Ventral (lower) surface usually plain and pale. Up to 82mm SVL (snout-vent-length). The mouth lining is pink and the tongue is pink with grey tip. The rostral scale does not extend to nostrils. Snout to ear distance ≥ eye to ear distance. Toes have expanded pads (more so than Dactylocnemis geckos): pads extend further in brown gecko). Sexes can be distinguished with males having 1 or 2 blunt enlarged scales either side of the tail base; males also have a broad patch of preanal and femoral pores.
Estimates of life expectancy vary from 15-27 years in the wild, with reports of at least 37 years for captive animals.
Widespread across both the North and South Islands. Only rarely found on Stewart Island.
Ecology and habitat
A terrestrial, saxicolous or arboreal species which can be found across a wide range of habitats (from shorelines to inland beech and broadleaf forest). Nocturnal but will sun bask.
Highly gregarious and lacks territorial behaviour.
Ovoviviparous, generally giving birth to twins annually in the late summer.
Invertebrates, nectar, fruit (Coprosma, Muehlenbeckia, Phytolacca octandra, Hymenanthera alpine). Often associated with flowering flax, pohutukawa and honeydew produced by scale insects.
Variety of endoparasitic nematodes and ectoparasites of the Acari family. Black spot fungi, ulcerative dermatitis, mycotic pneumonitits and mycotic septicaemia.
The species are listed by DOC as 'not threatened' with a large and stable population.
Formerly thought to be the most widespread and abundant lizard in NZ. Though recent taxonomy has separated at least 10 species. The name ‘maculata’ means ‘speckled’.
- Ainsworth, R. (1985). An evaluation of some island biogeographic theories using lizards and lizard parasites in the Wellington region.
Unpublished master's dissertation. Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand.
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- Hitchmough, R.A. (1997). A systematic review of the New Zealand Gekkonidae. Unplublished doctoral dissertation. Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand.
- Hitchmough, R.A., Barr, B., Lettink, M., Monks, J., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., van Winkel, D., Rolfe, J. (2016). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015; New Zealand threat classification series 17. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Conservation.
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- Marshall, J.M. (1983). Homing and celestial orientation in two lizards Hoplodactylus maculatus and Leiolopisma nigriplantare.
Unpublished BSc honours dissertation. Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand.
- Meads, M.J. (1982). A proposed revision of the Naultinus/Heteropholis species complex. In: New Zealand Herpetology. Proceedings of a Symposium held at the Victoria University of Wellington, 29-31 January 1980 (pp. 29-31). Victoria University: Wellington, New Zealand.
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- Twentyman, C. (1999). Diseases in New Zealand reptiles. Surveillance, 26, 3.
- Whitaker, A.H. (1982). Interim results from a study of Hoplodactylus maculatus (Boulenger) atTurakirae Head, Wellington. In: D.G. Newman (Ed.), New Zealand Herpetology. Proceedings of a Symposium held at the Victoria University of Wellington 29-31 January 1980 (pp. 363-374).
- New Zealand Wildlife Service occasional publication No. 2. 495 p.
- Whitaker, A.H. (1987). The roles of lizards in New Zealand plant reproductive strategies. New Zealand Journal of Botany 25, 2, 315-328.
- Wotton, D.M. (2002). Effectiveness of the common gecko (Hoplodactylus maculatus) as a seed disperser on Mana Island, New Zealand. Journal of Botany 40, 4, 639-647.