Getting to Know Geckos
Above: Lined leaf tail gecko
What is a Gecko?
Geckos can do much more than save you up to 15% on your car insurance! They are a small to medium sized group of lizards found in warm climates all throughout the world. They are the most species-rich group of lizards, spanning over 1500 different species worldwide. All geckos, with the exception of the Eublepharidae family (including leopard, cave and cat geckos), lack eyelids! Instead, they have a transparent membrane, which they lick to clean. These lizards are found in a wide variety of habitats in the warmer parts of the world including rocky deserts, mountains, rainforests and grasslands.
Geckos for Pets?
Geckos come in a large variety of different colors, shapes and sizes. They have become very popular in the pet trade in the past few decades. They are docile, easy to care for and relatively easy to tame. The majority of geckos are nocturnal, meaning they feed and are most active at night and sleep during the day. All geckos eat insects, so a diet of live insects is a must. Even for Crested geckos, who can thrive of fruits and Repashy meal powder, a varied diet that includes live insects is important. Common gecko species found in pet stores are often user friendly and great for beginners.
Common Pet Gecko Species
Crested Gecko – An adorable medium-small gecko native to New Caledonia. They are one the most common gecko in the pet trades because of their vast variety and colors. They do not require live crickets to keep as a pet, they can live of fruits and Repashy meal powder.
Leopard Gecko – Another medium-small gecko found in the highlands of Asia and Afghanistan. They are considered the most common species of gecko in the pet trade. Leopard geckos are one of the few geckos that have movable eyelids, making for some funny looking gestures!
Leaf Tail Gecko – A medium sized genus of geckos known as Uroplatus, endemic to Madagascar and its coastal islands. They can range anywhere from 4-14 inches. Because of their highly cryptic coloration and bark like skin, Leaf tail geckos are masters of camouflage.
Day Gecko – A colorful, small sized gecko, though giants can grow up to 13 inches in length. Day geckos are native to Madagascar, and are one of the rare species of geckos that are not nocturnal.
Tokay Gecko – A large sized gecko native to Asia and some Pacific islands. Tokay geckos have a unique polka-dot pattern that comes in a variety of different colors. They have a loud, distinct croak they use as a mating call. They are considered a symbol of good luck and fertility in Southeast Asia.
Never grab a gecko by its tail!!! Geckos use a form of self defense called autotomy (self-amputation) whereby the gecko will detach its own tail. If a predator in the wild snatches s a gecko by its tail, it will detach itself and scurry to safety. Always be gentle when handling your gecko! A gecko can also drop its tail due to stress, from over handling or living in improper conditions. If this happens, it will grow back (with the exception of crested gecko) but not as perfect as the original.
Geckos are famous for their ability to scale vertical walls and even hang upside down. About 60% of gecko species have adhesive toe pads that allow them to adhere to most surfaces without the use of liquids or surface tension. Geckos can stick to surfaces because their bulbous toes are covered in hundreds of tiny microscopic hairs called setae. Each seta splits off into hundreds of even smaller bristles called spatulae. It has recently been discovered that geckos have the ability to quickly turn on and off the stickiness of their feet!
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