A protected green gecko which suffered severe burns to its four feet during a scrub fire in Northland is expected to survive but won't be returned to the wild.
The native reptile was handed to the Native Bird Recovery Centre in Whangarei last Friday by Department of Conservation staff who found it after the fire in Pouto was brought under control.
Centre manager Robert Webb said he was amazed the gecko, possibly a female that could be pregnant, was still alive after what it went through.
A small part of its belly was also burned.
The gecko started eating on Monday. Mr Webb said it could be suitable for a breeding programme for a zoo, otherwise he would keep it for as long as possible.
"It started eating on Monday which is good but I doubt it can be returned to the wild because it can't climb anymore. The ends of its toes are missing. They normally have quite big toes."
Mr Webb has been feeding the creature with worms, a little moss and honey on the end of a match stick.
"The thing that worries me is there are other geckos the firemen couldn't find. Lots of them would have been on trees but luckily this one was on the ground."
Apart from geckos, Pouto Peninsula was a perfect habitat for kiwi and other birds so people should think of the danger to wildlife before lighting fires, he said.
The scrub fire on Thursday was among several suspicious scrub and grass fires in Northland over the past seven days that stretched resources and put the lives of people and wildlife in danger. Three of the fires were at Pouto.
"You see firemen who work in those conditions but they still get burns. There are idiots out there who set fires so they are able to watch the helicopters and all the excitement, but nobody thinks about wildlife.
"They don't stand a chance. Fires this time are worse because birds have babies and fires like these go through very rapidly.
"Fires are a kick in the guts of all those landcare volunteers who've been slaving down there, preserving natural habitats and making sure they are pest free."
Geckos can live up to 40 years and their main predators are cats, weasels, stoats and hedgehogs.