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Ode to the gecko

Ode to the gecko

When you notice rapid movements on your hotel room walls in Asia but your eye only catches a glimpse of the shadow, then you have just missed a gecko. It is easy to mistake them for some bothersome insect at first but as soon as you get to see a gecko in a still position, it won’t take long to find them absolutely adorable. They are cute reptiles, miniature lizards, have two big black eyes and a slim body, which can range from a dark to almost neon green colour. Sometimes they are almost see-through :)

 

This is a gecko, we got to pose for this picture, in Malaysia.

Gecko from Malaysia

 

Geckos are not only adorable for their looks but also for their funny mating sounds they emanate. On Koh Samui we heard their short high pitched sounds pretty well, because it is pleasantly quiet on that (in parts) tranquil island. Geckos are man’s little helpers. They kept our company in the hotel room, catching annoying, gross and ugly insects. I love the gecko for its insect reduction work!

We observed geckos in Cambodia engage in stunty reproductive activity and having fly dinner. They wait motionlessly for their pray next to the brightest sources of light until they precisely snap for their snack. We let the light above the hotel room door on, to facilitate gecko’s insect intake. Geckos are fascinating to watch when they perform Spidermanesque stunts, climbing up walls or ceilings and jumping amazing distances in emergency situations.  Otherwise you can see them sitting near lamps to wait for a yummy insect to fly by which they will be able to catch with astounding reflexes.

 

Gecko and Tomek and me having dinner on opposite sides of the restaurant’s glass window. Gecko ordered fresh flies though.

Gecko in Bangkok

 

Scientists have examined their remarkable climbing skills and found that geckos’ feet have adhesive toe pads. To walk upside down on ceilings and impossible smooth surfaces, I learned that they use Van der Waals force, so that their nano hair branches function as contact points and keep the tiny bodies from falling off. Geckos are blessed with microscopic foot hairs called ‘setae’ which the gecko keeps clean by hyperextending its toes. Basically, just by moving around dirt will fall off and they never need to shower :)

I have resized the picture of the gecko I caught on the glass window, which shows its amazing toe structure (a bit) better.

Setea of gecko

 

Geckos actually run very low on their actual adhesive capabilities, but it totally blew my mind that a gecko could hold 133 kg aloft, if using his full setae power!

I wish evolution would have provided me with adhesive setae – it would be so helpful to reach stuff from just anywhere and have Spiderman fun around town.

Anyway,  for all those reasons we automatically adopt geckos as our temporary pets when travelling around Asia. Sadly, there is no gecko company to be found in Europe.

 

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