April 17, 2014
A species of gecko, thought to be extinct until a single specimen was rediscovered following a tropical storm in 1994, has gone on display at Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium.
The crested gecko is originally from the isolated island of New Caledonia in the south west Pacific.
It was believed extinct until the discovery in 1994. Since then two distinct populations have been found, although very little is known about their behaviour and status in the wild.
The aquarium is looking after a pair, named Sheldon and Amy, as part of their newly-expanded ‘Jungle Room’ feature which is home to a variety of exotic species from around the world.
Blue Reef’s Leanna Lawson said: “It’s great to be able to put on display such an unusual species with such a fascinating history. No one is even entirely sure how long they live for as the individual found back in 1994 is still alive!” she added.
The crested gecko is officially designated as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A Vulnerable species is one which has been categorised as likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival improve.
The crested gecko has hair-like projections found above the eyes, resembling eyelashes. It has a wedge-shaped head and a crest that runs from each eye to the tail.
They are a mostly arboreal species, preferring to inhabit the canopy of the New Caledonian rainforests, and because of this they can jump considerably well.
Like all true geckos, the crested gecko doesn’t have eyelids, so they have to lick their eyes to clean them.
The crested gecko, unlike many other lizards, will not regrow its tail once lost.
The cells around the base of the tail are brittle, allowing the tail to break away when threatened or caught by a predator. The tails will move independently of the body for up to five minutes.
The loss of their tail is not problematic, and most adults in the wild do not have their tails.