Hunter Park Kindergarten

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baby Gecko

Something seems to be telling me I need to build a gecko enclosure and help start a gecko rescue programme with the children at the kindergarten.

Why you might ask?

Well when I got home from my meeting today guess what was waiting?

A baby gecko a neighbour had found on their wood brought in from Ongaonga.

So even though it was 6:30pm back up to work and a new habitat set up in our reserve terrarium as the main one is still with D.O.C. following the return of our pregnant female. (We've been hard to get hold of in the afternoons with various meetings and our risk assessment trip prior to our up coming visit to Lindsay bush.)

That our first one was so pregnant and this is quite small (they give birth to live young remember), does makes me wonder if the birth autumn and winter information was correct however, but I guess this could be a mid winter baby.

Anyway I know one little girl who will be rapt to see a gecko here. I will contact D.O.C. about how to get a permit today.
Anyway more honey water (manuka this time-Thankyou Arataki Honey), the smallest of our baby locusts and slaters, plus water and hopefully baby will soon be settled in till we can arrange it's return.
Meanwhile with the donated web cam hopefully arriving tomorrow (again thankyou to Pam at Arataki Honey), we might have some interesting video for our friends at Lucknow Kindergarten when we link to them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gecko -Follow up

DOC send us a letter, and on Friday (despite it being a public holiday locally) the dedicated DOC team came and collected our Gecko to return her to the bush having talked with the family about the location she was found in.
While she was here I noted she drank up a lot of her honey water, and not many bugs. I suspect with the Manuka currently in flower that she may have been feeding on a lot of nectar in the wild.

DOC wrote.
"What a beautiful specimen. It looks like it may be a gravid (pregnant) female to me by the size of its tummy. Thank you for notifying us of its existence and I will arrange to have it picked up and returned to the wild. Unfortunately cats (domestic and wild) seem to find native lizards a very attractive prey item. They are probably one of the main reasons so many of our endemic lizards have either disappeared from the mainland altogether or are now threatened with extinction

John Adams, DOC Napier
Cheers, John "

We're just glad to have helped.
Another of our associations kindergartens (Christine's) turns out to have been interested in setting up a gecko habitat for captive breed geckos, we're going to set up a video link with them so our children can discuss geckos together.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Roller Paintings

The children created these beautiful paintings by adding blobs of paint and then folding the paper in half and using a roller to spread the paint around. This was a great opportunity to explore pattern, shape and design and to talk about the concept of symmetry. This links with children's developing ideas about maths concepts such as half, quater and the same.

Here are just some of the beautiful creations we made. To see more, come into Kindergarten and have a look!

This bright colours look wonderful! I wonder if the children would like to do this again sometime? Written by Monica

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


One of the children's dads rescued a gecko, the second lizard to have been found by a family in the last few weeks.
sadly the first one a skink never made it to kindergarten but got eaten by the family cat who fished it out of the tank they were keeping it in before it could be returned to the bush or taken to DOC, perhaps it was karma because that's how they'd found it rescuing it from another cat.

The girl who brought this one in wanted to take it home again but we had to let her know they're protected and you can't even pick them up without a permit.
We've set up a temporary terrarium to keep it alive till it can be returned with some baby locusts, flies, slaters, drinking water, moss, bark and leaves, and some honeyed water and have found the number for DOC on their website.
This particular link also has some great ways to make your home garden gecko friendly.

We've researched some facts about geckos, this one is probably a forest gecko, and a great source of information was

Did you know they can live to 42 years of age, give birth to live young (usually 2 in autumn or early winter) , are the only lizard to vocalise making a little chirping sound, eat fruit, bugs and nectar (but can be fussy eaters), can change colour slowly, live in trees, and are active at night, and everything eats them.

Lots of people remembered finding and keeping them as children. Adele says she's learnt if they lose their tail it can take a year to grow back, during which time they won't have babies. has some close up photo's of them. They don't blink so have to lick their eyes.
One day we may have to apply for a permit to keep them, but we'll probably have to have previous experience in lizard care and a scientific or breeding purpose to do so. I know our little girl who brought it in wants "a license" so she can keep her much loved new friend.
have information on permits, and also excellent information on care and how to set up a gecko inclousure. They recommend large outdoor, with mesh sides as geckos need sunlight and glass filters the wavelengths they need. Once you get a permit you can obtain animals from established captive breeding programmes but not from the wild.
Their NZ reptiles and photo gallery pages have an excellent photo gallery and distribution map to help figure out what you found when you see a lizard and take it's photo.
I would recommend contacting the society if you decide you would like to keep lizards.
has one New Zealanders story of how they got to keep lizards, photo's of their permits and the site also features a contact address. They might be worth contacting if you want to keep lizards.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our Frog Died

Just on two years old, and we were hoping soon to have spawned, one of our two mother frogs died in a horrible accident last night.
She'd been chasing a fly, high on the glass when David saw her jump off. He noticed sitting funny, that her tongue was out. He watched her take two big breaths then she stopped.

We found she had landed on a piece of wire that had lain unseen on the pot holding her water weed. All our frogs had loved to sit in the pot, and the wire, that must have been to hold the weed in place, had come adrift and now faced upwards. It pierced through into her tongue, killing her.

Today we spend time with her, looking at her, learning about her. One girl carried her around in a paua shell and wanted to take her home to show her mum she had died. She sang her a song to make her come alive again.

One of the boys wanted to put her in water to make her alive.

In the end after one of the children thought we should have something soft for her the teachers left cherry blossom on the table.
The children found it and covered her with flowers.

We then dug a hole, first in a specail spot one of the children had wanted to share, and then, when this prooved to hard, in another beautiful location.

In a coffin of paua, one of the children sung her "Delta dawn" as they shared their experiences of funerals and decided what we should do. And so we buried our friend frog.

Then the children started to gather flowers, and another one of the girls sang her a five minute song about all the things she wanted for her, creating it as she went. She wanted to know, how she would come to life again under the ground. I had to say I didn't know enough about frogs to answer her question.
It was a sad day, full of learning and questions, sharing and discovery.

Friday, October 10, 2008

more from art auction we didn't have time to get up

Crickets, cellar slugs and other frog food

Here's our Froglets (pepeke) back in summer 06-07
Lots of aphids on the roses for them

Plenty of greenery and branches to climb on.
Here's one of two we think are big females

and one of our 5 males, at the start of summer 08-09, having lost one who climbed out of the tank and ended up in the kitchen covered in glitter and dust (We try to keep a wet bowl on the floor now under the tank area.) These are all Litoria aurea, or green and golden bell frogs brought from a pet store.
We also have two local Litoria raniformis or southern bell frogs rescued from peoples swimming pools in a seperate tank.

Here's their home about to get a spring clean, new moss and plants after we left them to have undisturbed hybernation in winter. (One frog hiding)

As well as locusts our frogs get feed a variety of flies we catch (unsprayed windows, sunny walls on cool mornings, great spots, especially if you cook a roast with the front door open.)
I've tried making fly traps and moth traps but haven't had any success so far.
Butterflies (cabbage white with wings trimmed )get added in summer. Moths, damsel flies and easy to grow meal worms.
Receipe for meal worms.
Buy plastic fish tank with ventilated lid
Add chicken mash (from farmlands or pet store)
put down paper towels, cloths or egg cartoons on top (they need these.)
Add meal worms brought from local pet store. (Try wet pets Palmerston North)
Leave for several weeks.
Soon lots of meal worms (pāpapa) . However "Keeping frogs" says that with only 20% protien, 15% fat, small amounts of calcium and phosphorus, with ash, vitiman c and fibre, and as they are hard to digest they should be feed only to large frogs and only occasionally and not in cold weather when digestion is slowed.

What is good are crickets (pihareina), our species is Teleogryllus commodus. Catch them in the summer in the evening. The female has a three sticky out bits on the tail, the long one in the middle being the ovipositor she lays eggs with.
The grain on her wings is smooth, on males only two bits stick out and they have a curvy wing grain and sing.
We keep ours in a terranium with a light under neath for warmth and had nymphs from eggs laid in autumn by mid october. We feed them chicken mash and decaying grass.
We have damp potting mix, sand, moss and decaying grass for them to lay eggs in and egg cartoons provide a hiding habitat. They like to sunbath in a sunny spot.

Starting off looking like ants (pōpokorua), you can tell them apart because ants don't hop. They rapidly grow and are always a good size for frogs to eat.
They will eat meat, so we give them a bit of dog biscuit and they will eat the legs off any locusts they catch, so don't let them in your locust house.
I'd like to try them on a 14:10 day night cycle like the locusts to try and breed them year round, but haven't got a house for them yet. They may need a diapause were their eggs (hēki, huapēpeke, huangārara)get cold in winter, but seem to lay eggs and hatch them fine in summer.
Easy to breed and care for once they get going (we'd given up on them about two weeks before we found our first babies) they are 55% protien 30% fat, have calcium, phosphorus, vitamin c, fibre and can be baked into chocolate chip cookies.
Their singing can be tremendous and beautiful but can wear on the nerves of the inside teachers.

Our cricket house got a white powder on it. Under the digital microscope it turned out to be a mite (moroiti).
These might be good for baby frogs, but the best we found was wingless fruit fly (ngaro huarakau parirau kore)(get from pet shop) and feed on a mix of potato flakes, cider vinegar, and a few other things (I'll have to find my recipe) Nice and small froglets (not tadpoles) eat them up with relish. Just tap a few from a jar or tap some into a fresh jar of food put the rest in the frog house in a jar with holes in the lid so they can get out.

Another thing we've tried is the fantastic Limacus flavus (Linnaeus) or yellow cellar slug (Putoko). When stretched out these can be the size of your middle finger in length and fatness. Ours were picked up on wet mornings and have laid eggs regularly. The eat the moss and algae on the tank and we also supliment this with chicken mash which they seem to enjoy. If you pick them up they'll leave a sticky mucus you can't wash or strape off (leave it to dry first), so I'm not sure frogs eat them, but some of our frogs never seem to get hungry so they probably do.

We also catch slaters (howaka) (which are also breeding in our over wintering cricket house,) beetles and grow worms (noke) as well.
Remember frogs like live food.