The former common name 'starred' and scientific name 'stellatus' refer to the typically star-shaped markings; 'Nelson green' alludes to this species' occurence within the Nelson region. Known from 1872 as Naultinus elegans stellatus (Hutton 1972), in 1876 as Naultinus pulcherrimus (Buller 1877). Some populations in western Golden Bay and northern Westland were once considered N. tuberculatus (Robb 1980, 1986, Pickard & Towns 1988).
N. stellatus may be distinguished from N. manukanus and N. rudis by the lack of enlarged scales on body, and from N. tuberculatus by tongue colour (pink, orange or red versus blackish). Otherwise, the species is geographically isolated from other similar species.
South Island + tongue pink/orange + no body scales enlarged.
There are apparent geographic races in North-West Nelson, Nelson Province, and Nelson Lakes (Mainwaring 1979, Robb 1980, Hitchmough 1997, Whitaker & Gaze 1999, Whitaker & Lyall 2004).
Nelson green gecko; Starred gecko
In 1998 an atypical blue-coloured specimen was found near Golden Bay.
A small to large sized gecko (from ~45 mm up to 80 mm SVL, total length 160 mm, Jewell 2008). Highly variable in size, colour and pattern, predominantly green in western areas, but ranging from brown, black or white in eastern areas. Base coloration varies from uniform deep green to blackish-brown, often marked with white, green or yellow blotches or stripes across back and sides Usually green above with two broad stripes, or rows of diamond-shaped markings, running lengthwise along edges of back. These green or yellowish markings are usually outlined in dark green, olive, brown or black. Some males are olive-brown, brown, grey or white with dark markings. Ventral surfaces white, pale green or bluish-green, to mottled brown and white. Much of the variation is geographically structured, with especially small, weakly marked animals in north-west Nelson, and especially large and brownish specimens in the Nelson Lakes area. Young are born dark green with white markings; within 6-18 months they change to the adult coloration. Adults are able to change colour tone according to temperature. Mouth lining lavender, pink, yellow or orange-red, sometimes tinged with lavender blue. Lips and nostrils marked with orange. Eye light olive to orange-brown. Toes narrow and tapering without expanded pads. Soles of feet yellow (north-western and Nelson Lakes populations), or grey (Nelson Province). Tail slender, prehensile, seldom shed (Hitchmough 1997, Jewell 2008).
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