Geckos are small to moderately large lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae and found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. more...
Geckos are unusual in other respects as well. Many species have specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth vertical surfaces and even cross indoor ceilings with ease. These antics are well-known to persons living in warm regions of the world where several species of geckos make their home inside human habitations. These species (for example the House gecko) become part of the indoor menagerie and are seldom really discouraged because they feed on insect pests.
Most geckos are tan to dark grey, subtly patterned, and somewhat rubbery looking. Some species can change color to blend in with their surroundings. However others can be brightly colored. Like most lizards, they eat insects. Some species are parthenogenic, the females capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. This improves the geckos' ability to spread to new islands.
The toes of the gecko have attracted a lot of attention, as they adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, without the use of liquids or surface tension. Recent studies of the setae on gecko footpads demonstrates that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves.
That these kinds of interactions involve no liquids (or no gases) is important; in theory, a boot made of synthetic setae would adhere as easily to the surface of the International Space Station as it would to a living room wall.
Many gecko species may be kept as pets and will eat various kinds of insects.
- Picture of a Gecko in Texas, USA
Common species of geckos
- Golden gecko, Gekko ulikovski—
- House gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus—A species that thrives around man and human habitation structures in the tropics and subtropics world wide.
- Indo-Pacific gecko, Hemidactylus garnoti—Also known as a fox gecko because of its long, narrow snout. This species is found in houses throughout the tropics. This gecko may eat leafcutter ants.
- Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus—residential and wild, introduced species (USA).
- Leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius —The most common gecko kept as a pet is the leopard gecko, which does not have toe pads with setae, but rather claws. These enable it to more easily climb on rough surfaces like tree bark. This gecko cannot climb the glass of a terrarium. The leopard gecko tends to be docile and calm. This gecko can eat cockroaches, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms.
- Mourning gecko, Lepidodactylus lugubris—This species is equally at home in the wild as in residential neighborhoods. Found in Hawaii, it may have been an early Polynesian introduction. A parthenogenic species.
- Stump-toed gecko, Gehyra mutilata (=Peropus mutilatus)—This gecko can vary its color from very light to very dark to blend into a background. At home in the wild as well as in residential neighborhoods.
- Tokay gecko, Gekko gecko—This is the lizard for which geckos were named. It is one of the relatively few lizards that vocalizes, and its mating call has variously been described as a loud gek-gek-gek-gekkkk or as tok-eh tok-eh. The Tokay, an attractive but very aggressive species native to Southeast Asia, was in the past popular in the pet trade (apartment-dwellers in New York are sometimes advised by pet-shop owners to let Tokays run free to control cockroaches, though one might expect the vocalizations to be disconcerting!) and the species has naturalized in southern Florida and Hawaii.
- Tree gecko, Hemiphyllodactylus typus—Tree geckos are forest dwellers.
- New Caledonian crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus— Until recently believed extinct. Gaining in popularity as a pet.
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