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Facts about Geckos

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Friday, 26 de September 2008

Facts about Geckos

History


The word Gecko comes from the Javanese ge'kok. In fact, geckos are the only lizard able to vocalize, doing clicking and squeaking sounds when socializing. Their name is an imitation of the sound they produce.

 

Habitat


There are hundreds of gecko species, spread across the globe in the most diversified environments: deserts, mountains and even rainforests. The only place we can’t find geckos is in Antarctica and the Artic area and surrounding regions of North America, Asia and Europe. Being cold-blooded, geckos depend on the sun to warm their bodies and survive.

 

Species


The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is the largest gecko reaching up to 35 cm.

The Jaragua Sphaero (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) is the smallest reptile. This dwarf gecko doesn’t have more than 16 mm of body length.

The Coromandel Striped Gecko or Stephen's Island Gecko (Hoplodactylus stephensi) is thought to be the rarest gecko in the world. It lives in New Zealand.

 

Habits


They are mostly nocturnal, hiding during the day and hunting insects at night, however there are also diurnal geckos, especially living in Madagascar like the Phelsuma laticauda.

Geckos are able to stand tall and also to wave their tails.

When frightened, geckos do flexions moving up and down with their arms.

These animals also use their tongues to clean the mouth after eating!

 

Anatomy


Geckos have small bodies, from 1,6 to 30 cm, with large heads and eyes. Most Geckos don’t have moveable eyelids, which mean they can’t blink. They clean their eyelids with their tongues. The gecko’s pupil opens at night to let more light in and during the day they close them to a very thin row of small dots.

Geckos have a wide range of body colors. Some species are vivid colored and others have duller shades. Some geckos are even able to change colors, according with their mood.

Many people fear the vivid colored geckos, but they are harmless to anything that isn’t an insect. They hunt insects with their tongues, but only when they are moving.

The most interesting feature in geckos is their feet. The majority of geckos have five digits, some have less. But what fascinates scientists is they’re ability to defy gravity and to climb any surface. The gecko’s toes have adhesive pads made of thin hairs that hold on to surfaces by friction. Obviously there are always exceptions: the Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) not only has claws instead of pads but he also has moveable eyelids.  

The fat gecko’s tail is used to store food and water. Geckos can shed their tails, when predators attack. The muscles on the tail keeps moving after falling off to divert the predator. Like most lizards they can regenerate their tails, but they usually are smaller and with a different pattern.

Sometimes the gecko may only loose a bit of the tail. In some of these cases, a new tail grows leaving the lizard with more than one tail.

 

Superstition


Geckos are a sign of good-luck in Hawaii.

In Sri Lanka, there are many superstitions about the gecko’s cry. It is thought that if a gecko cries when someone leaves the house, it is a warning. If you hear a cry from behind, it means problems from someone who envies you; if it comes from the left, it means good-luck; from the right is bad-luck. If a gecko falls over someone, it can be good or bad luck, depending on which part of the body.

In Thailand, if you hear the cry of the Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) seven times or more in a row, it will bring you good-luck.

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