Rare gecko has lucky escape

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2012
Gold-striped gecko
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
GOLDEN FIND: What is believed to be a rare gold-striped gecko nervously clings to 11-year-old Emily Williams’ finger just 24 hours after escaping the usually fatal clutches of the family cat, Spongebob.

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When Gareth Williams turned the jug on, he ended up saving a rare gold-striped gecko from the murderous intentions of Spongebob the cat.

The 3-year-old New Plymouth moggy has developed a taste for geckos and often brings her catch back to her Seaview Rd abode.

"By that time they have usually lost their tail and are on their last legs," Mr Williams said. "But this one got away. I found it on the bench behind the hot water jug."

A quick search of the internet by his 13-year-old son, Caleb, revealed that the gecko was not like others Spongebob had caught.

This one appeared to be a rare gold-striped gecko, found only in Taranaki and on Mana Island near Wellington.

The threatened species are rarely seen and even more rarely caught with their tails intact, dropping them as a defence mechanism with greater propensity than other geckos.

"They tickle when they walk on your skin," said Mr Williams' 6-year-old daughter Grace, who until Saturday had known nothing about geckos. "I know they like flies," she said.

She also knows they are lightning-quick, soft to touch and hard to hold. After keeping the gecko overnight in a goldfish bowl, Grace's sister, Emily, 11, said they planned to let it go in the flax bush behind their house.

"Because it likes the flax," she said. "The internet says it's a flax gecko."

GOLD-STRIPED GECKO FACTS

Was officially accepted as a distinct species in 1980.

Appeared on a 70-cent stamp in 1984.

Found almost exclusively in Taranaki from Waitara to Patea.

Grows up to 140mm in length.

Nocturnal, it feeds on small insects and other invertebrates.

It can be found in flax bushes, around barns and under corrugated iron. Of a brown-yellow or tan colour, it has alternate light and dark stripes on its back.

Its scientific name is hoplodactylus chrysosireticus.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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