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Moko kākāriki – a day in the life

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Our moko kākāriki has now been living at Otago Museum for six months, and has settled comfortably into his new home. But how does our jewelled gecko live? What is an average day for him like?

We make official checks on our moko kākāriki three times a day. We see how the enclosure’s temperature and humidity are faring, because we want them to replicate the Otago Peninsula environment. So it needs to be wetter and wilder than the rest of the Museum! At this time we water and spray all his plants. Spraying the leaves with water isn’t for the plants’ health, but is for our moko kākāriki. He needs to drink, but doesn’t like coming down from his trees to drink from the little pond we have given him, so he licks the droplets from the moistened leaves.


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He is fed twice a week – on Monday and Friday mornings – but has food available all the time. Truth be told, he is a little bit spoilt. With every feed he gets a locust or meal worm, which he will gobble up. But he also has fruit on offer. He is quite picky, and it took a few different fruit iterations to find his preferences. He likes nectarine (you may see it cunningly disguised as berries on his trees), but he isn’t a fan of strawberries or blueberries.


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At feeding-time on Mondays, his body surface temperature is taken. This is important because, as an ectothermic animal, he cannot regulate his own temperature, so he has to bask in warmth to heat up.


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At the moment if you search for our gecko you are bound to find him in his new favourite tree. A recent addition to his enclosure, it is the korokio (Corokia cotoneaster). It is a native commonly known as wire-netting bush, and is pollinated by native bees. We suspect our gecko likes this shrub because in it he can climb a little higher than in the other bushes, and for geckos, height is sought after.

Finally, in the last six months our gecko has shed his skin twice! This is a good sign as it shows he is maintaining a healthy external body condition by getting rid of any nasty things on his old skin. The outer shed skin doesn’t last as the gecko tends to shred it in the process. If you managed to spot him just after this event, you’d notice his colour reverts to a brilliant green after shedding.




So that’s what has been happening in the life of our gecko so far! Two shed skins, new favourite foods, and one Christmas here at Otago Museum. All he needs now is a name! You are invited to name him in our ‘Help name our jewelled gecko’ competition. You can enter your suggested name, as well as vote to choose the winner from the top three!  Enter here.



And if you’re interested in learning more, come in to one of our Let’s Go Wild – Pop-up science shows during the Wild Dunedin festival. They are on hourly, from 11.15am to 4.15pm, Friday 21 April – Tuesday 25 April.

Image credits: Kane Fleury