Tag Archives: Hoplodactylus pacificus

Focusing on the detail – Glenys is back

For the past eleven years, the gecko we call Glenys has made regular summer appearances

Glenys is back. When she first appeared in 2011, Mark initially named it Elvis (“In the Ghetto”, gecko, geddit?). A kind enthusiast from the herpetological society advised us that it was almost certainly a pregnant female, hence the name change. He also identified her as Hoplodactylus pacificus and was as excited as we were by our observations of a breeding female here.

Overseas readers may be baffled by our excitement at having resident geckos but they are rarely spotted here, not unlike our two species of rare bats that nobody I know has ever seen. We only have three native reptiles – skinks are common enough, everybody knows about tuataras but the geckos are shy, retiring and not seen widely at all.

I assume we have several resident geckos, or at least three. For Glenys to be pregnant, there must be a Mr Glenys around and a couple of years ago we had two sunning themselves on the dead pine tree. We think the second, smaller one must have been Glenys’s daughter.

Hoplodactylus pacificus but we call her Glenys

This is a summer sight. NZ geckos are most unusual in that they give birth to live young – usually just two and apparently they look like matchsticks on legs. The pregnant females use the warmth of the sun to incubate the young which is why we only see Glenys in summer, out in her discreet sunbathing spot. Geckos have a long life span – anything from 20 to 50 years but I guess it is hard to measure the life span of geckos in the wild. Glenys may be with us for a while yet. If she lives to 50, she will out-live us.

I skipped my usual Sunday post. I didn’t think many would notice (thanks, Jane in Australia). I just couldn’t think of anything to say around the start of a new year. We all hope 2022 will be better than 2021 and 2020 but the signs are not good. In New Zealand, it is like living with the sword of Damocles poised above us. We are on track to achieve the impossible – the elimination of Delta (just 14 cases of community transmission across the whole country yesterday although the number yo-yos up to the 40s some days) but Omicron is hovering in the wings, looking for its chance to unleash itself. We know that but the longer we can stave it off, the better prepared we will be. These are not easy times we are living in, even less so for those in Australia, France, UK, USA and other countries near paralysed by this latest wave. I find thinking small, looking at detail and the natural world keeps me focused and reduces the catastrophising.

All I have to offer is the detail, in this case of Glenys. We have to be sharp-eyed and quiet to spot her; she can disappear back into her hidey-hole beneath the bark in a flash at sudden movements or loud noises.  

That is Glenys, pretending to be a bit of bark on her tree. We tread quietly around this area.

Welcome back to our resident gecko, Glenys

Gecko, probably Hoplodactylus pacificus.

Gecko, probably Hoplodactylus pacificus.

We are very pleased to see our resident gecko back sunning herself in the same spot as last year on the gnarly old pine tree trunk. As this is apparently the behaviour of a pregnant female, it means we have more than one gecko in residence. If she was successful in bearing her babies from last year and they survived all the predators which includes adult geckos, it may mean we have several. Given that spotting one gecko is a rare occurrence (last year’s event caused considerable excitement amongst local herpetologists), we are never going to know, but we are hopeful that Glenys’s behaviour may become an annual event. The sunbathing is apparently part of the incubation process of the young.

It takes an eagle eye to spot a sunbathing gecko. We may well have others in less prominent spots and we may have had them here all the time and just never spotted one before. It is likely that Glenys is a fine specimen of Hoplodactylus pacificus.

Earlier stories from last year:
1) Gecko update
2) The first story (and best photo) about our gecko, as well as the flocking kereru and monarch butterflies which were delighting us at the time – Wildlife in the Garden, New Zealand style.

Gecko update

gecko-009A kind reader from the herpetological society (www.reptiles.org.nz) rang to tell us that our gecko is most likely a heavily pregnant Hoplodactylus pacificus. This is good because it must mean that we have at least two resident gecko but it did necessitate a name change. Geck, or Gok was quickly renamed Glenys (Mark’s choice). She has been out sunbathing most days but apparently when she gives birth to her live young (probably two of them), we will no longer see her because she is largely nocturnal by nature, though we may catch sight of her babies which will apparently resemble matchsticks with legs. Alas, the babies are vulnerable to every predator you can think of, including other geckos, but we have our fingers crossed that this may indicate a hitherto unsuspected resident gecko population.

The flocking kereru have now increased to more than twenty and we are none the wiser as to why they are congregating here but we are pleased to have them around. They arrive in pairs or threes. Mark’s theory is that they are either introducing their young to their uncles and aunts or they are swapping slaves, or maybe troublesome adolescents.