Holding lizards in captivity
IntroductionYou must have a Wildlife Act authorisation to hold lizards. If you only want to hold certain common lizards in captivity, you can register for free to be covered under the General Authorisation.
To apply to hold other species of lizards follow the same process as for interacting with wildlife.
Lizards have very long life spans so keeping them in captivity is a big commitment. Before you apply, make sure: you are familiar with your obligations under the General Authorisation, how to best care for your lizards and learn about Cultural values and tīkanga - ngārara, karara and mokomoko.
You must be a resident or citizen of New Zealand and 16 years or older to register for the General Authorisation. If you want to apply on behalf of a trust or company, you must follow the same process as for interacting with wildlife.
You must read the information on this page thoroughly.
You must comply with the conditions of the General Authorisation (PDF, 79K).
The General Authorisation only allows you to put the lizards in your care on public display occasionally. If you want to undertake more advocacy work, you must follow the same process as for interacting with wildlife.
Registering to be covered by the General Authorisation will allow you to keep the following species in captivity:
- Naultinus grayii (Northland green gecko)
- Naultinus elegans (Elegant gecko)
- Naultinus punctatus (Barking gecko)
- Dactylocnemis pacificus (Pacific gecko)
- Dactylocnemis “North Cape” (North Cape Pacific gecko)
- Dactylocnemis “Matapia Island” (Matapia gecko)
- Mokopirirakau granulatus (Forest gecko)
- Mokopirirakau “Southern North Island” (Southern North Island forest gecko)
- Woodworthia maculata (common gecko)
- Woodworthia “Central Otago” (Central Otago gecko)
- Woodworthia “Cromwell” (Cromwell Gecko)
- Woodworthia “Kaikouras” (Kaikouras gecko)
- Woodworthia “Marlborough Mini” (Marlborough mini gecko)
- Woodworthia “Mount Arthur” (Mount Arthur gecko)
- Woodworthia “Otago Southland” (Large Otago gecko)
- Woodworthia “Southern Alps” (Southern Alps gecko)
- Woodworthia “Southern mini” (Southern mini gecko)
- Woodworthia cf. brunnea (Canterbury gecko)
- Hybrids of those species listed above
Best practice guide
This Best practice guide has been written to help you understand how to best care for the lizards you hold in captivity and how you can meet your obligations under your Wildlife Act Authorisation.
The guide outlines some practical steps to help you meet the conditions. This guide provides general advice; it is not possible to deal with every situation that may arise. In using this guide, discretion and judgement will be needed and it may be necessary to seek expert assistance.
The guide is regarded as a ‘living document’ which will be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.
Download the Best practice guide to keeping New Zealand lizards in captivity (PDF, 2,673K).
You must complete an annual return on the number of lizards held each October.
Download a template return form: Annual return – captive lizards (XLSX, 73K).
Process for dealing with dead lizards
If you live in the following places you must take any dead lizards to the local DOC office:
- Hawkes Bay – Ahuriri/Napier office
- Wellington – Pōneke/Wellington office
Outside of these places, you must bury any lizards that die. If you are not able to do this, contact your local DOC office for assistance.
Don’t forget to record dead lizards on your annual return.
It is your responsibility to re-home any unwanted lizards. You must not release your lizards or into the wild. You must only transfer lizards to another authorised holder or to DOC.
Contact the New Zealand Herpetological Society for assistance in finding an authorised holder who can help. If you are unsuccessful in re-homing lizards in your care, contact your local DOC office for assistance.
Preventing the problem of unwanted lizards in the first place is preferable, so make sure you are not allowing breeding to occur to levels you cannot manage.
Don’t forget to record re-homed lizards on your annual return.
To apply to be covered under the General Authorisation:
- Read the information on this page thoroughly.
- Download the registration form (Word, 819K) or (PDF, 605K).
- Fill in and sign the form.
- Complete the legal declaration - this tells us you have thoroughly read all the information on this page and understand your legal obligations.
- Send to email@example.com.
Receipt of your email will be automatically acknowledged immediately. Your registration will be confirmed within 20 working days.
There is no charge for registration.
If you do not have access to email, you can post your form to the Permissions Team in our Hamilton office.
Contact our Hamilton office if you would like more information.
Reporting bad husbandry standards or illegal activity
Notify your local DOC office if you witness or suspect anyone of the following:
- holding lizards in captivity without an Authorisation
- bad husbandry standards
- poaching from the wild
- interbreeding of species
- releasing captive lizards into the wild.