A Jewelled gecko, smuggled from his home on Otago Peninsula, taken to Germany and returned to Dunedin, is set to be named.

Otago Museum living environments and science engagement operations manager Sam Botting said a competition to name the gecko was the final step in the process of welcoming the rare lizard back to New Zealand.

The gecko, one of two smuggled from the peninsula about 2010, was identified from Facebook photos by Dunedin herpetologist Carey Knox in 2013.

German authorities and the Wildlife Enforcement Group worked with Department of Conservation staff to repatriate the lizard following its identification.

Advertisement
Lochie Grant (5), of Dunedin, ponders a name for the jewelled gecko at the Otago Museum. Photo / Peter McIntosh
Lochie Grant (5), of Dunedin, ponders a name for the jewelled gecko at the Otago Museum. Photo / Peter McIntosh

The gecko had been homed since December in a purpose-built enclosure which mimicked the peninsula environment.

Museum staff and members of Te Runanga o Otakou wanted to get to know the gecko before choosing a name, Ms Botting said.

''We know he's a bit cheeky.

''He is very personable and he definitely acknowledges and responds to staff members.

''He has favourites and he has his least favourites.''

Members of the public could get inspiration for names by visiting the museum, or voting online.

Museum visitor Cameron Burrows, 10, of Dunedin, believed George suited the jewelled gecko's demeanour, while his brother Scott, 11, thought Patches was an apt reflection of the lizard's appearance.

The last named animal at the museum was Eric, the giant gourami fish, who was a popular fixture at the museum until his death in 2004, Ms Botting said.

Entries close on May 19.

The public would then vote on three names selected by museum staff and Te Runanga o Otakou representatives.

The winning name would be announced on June 28.