The gecko is an extraordinary lizard, a triumph of both adaptation and diversity. Out of the 5,600 species of lizard on the planet, over 1,500 belong to the gecko infraorder called Gekkota. So, what is so interesting about a line of lizards which is, apparently, so ubiquitous? Here are 20 interesting facts about the gecko, as well as some amazing pictures of species that you may not have come across before.
Geckos can vary greatly in length. The smallest (Jaragua sphaero) is tiny, just under two centimeters in length. However, some species can grow up to 60 centimeters. The largest ever discovered, the Kawekaweau from New Zealand, is sadly now extinct.
he name comes from the Indonesian Malay language – gekoq. Even in this language it is not a real word, but an imitation of the chirrups that the gecko makes when interacting with others of its species.
You will not find a gecko in possession of eyelids. They have a transparent membrane instead. So that they can keep it clean you will see geckos lick their eyes. No one really knows if they can sense this or the membrane is insensitive enough for them to lick without feeling a thing. We know it doesn’t hurt, however: they wouldn’t do it otherwise!
If they are defending themselves, most gecko species can lose their tails. The scientific name for this is autotomy, which is from the Greek for self amputation. Many people think the gecko loses its tail as that is the part most likely to be grabbed by a predator. While it may be the obvious target, the reality is that when the gecko sheds its tail, it continues to wriggle about. This hopefully is enough of a distraction that the gecko can escape the predator that wants to make it their lunch.
Most species of gecko have to have their tail pulled in order to shed it. However, a number of species, especially those who may be attacked by ants, are able to get rid of their tail at will. The tail can in many cases grow back. However, this replacement is made of cartilage and does not have any of the bone structure of the original.
When a gecko sheds its tail, many will return later to see if it is still there. If it is then they will eat it. This is because the gecko uses part of its tail to store nutrients so that it can get through lean times when food is scarce.
Unlike many species, the gecko thrives around humans. In warm regions of the world the arrival of gecko in to the home is greeted as a sign of good luck as they can help rid the house of unwelcome insects – they love a bit of mosquito for supper.