Geckos are lizards that belong to the Gekkota infraorder.
They are the most species-rich group of lizards, with more than 1,650 different species worldwide.
Geckos live on every continent except for Antarctica. They are mostly found in warm climates and live in numerous habitats, such as rain forests, deserts and even on cold mountain slopes
The lifespan of Geckos varies by species, but ranges from a few years to over 25 years.
Geckos vary in size.
The largest species, the kawekaweau (Hoplodactylus delcourti), is only known from a single, stuffed specimen found in the basement of a museum in Marseille, France. This gecko was 60 cm (24 in) long and it was likely endemic to New Zealand, where it lived in native forests. It was probably wiped out along with much of the native fauna of these islands in the late 19th century, when new invasive species such as rats and stoats were introduced to the country during European colonization.
Rhacodactylus leachianus, commonly known as the New Caledonian giant gecko at 36 centimeters (14 inches) total length is the largest extant gecko in the world.
Two smallest gecko species are also the smallest lizard species on earth: the Jaragua sphaero or dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) [pic. below] and the Virgin Islands dwarf sphaero or Virgin Islands dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus parthenopion), they are only 1.6 centimeters (0.6 inches) long.
Geckos occur in various patterns and colors, and are among the most colorful lizards in the world.
Some species can even change color and may be lighter in color at night.
Shades of brown or gray adorn most geckos around the world. These camouflaging colors help the geckos hide among rocks, dirt and sand from predators.
Over a long period of time, geckos have developed special physical features to help them survive and avoid predators.
Geckos use their tail for many different purposes such as to store fat, maintain balance and add camouflage to help them to blend in. As a last ditch escape effort, Geckos are capable of shedding their tails when grabbed by a predator.
All geckos, excluding 30 species in the Eublepharidae family, lack eyelids and instead have a transparent membrane, which they lick to clean.
They have a fixed lens within each iris that enlarges in darkness to let in more light.
Nocturnal species have an excellent night vision; their color vision is 350 times more sensitive than human color vision.
Besides well developed night vision, geckos have excellent sense of hearing. They are capable of hearing tones higher than those detectable by any other reptile species.
Geckos have sticky feet that allows them to climb up any type of material with the exception of Teflon. While other creatures use methods like secretions or claws to attach to surfaces, the gecko uses an intricate system called “dry adhesion.” On its feet, the gecko has many microscopic hairs, or setae that give them this sticky ability.
Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations. Many geckos, especially young ones, vocalize when they are upset or threatened. Others use their clicking and chirping noises as communication, especially with other geckos. They likely are saying simple things like “I am here,” “Danger!,” and “Who wants to mate?”
The New Latin gekko and English “gecko” stem from the Indonesian-Malay gēkoq, which is imitative of the sound the animals make.
All geckos shed their skin at fairly regular intervals, with species differing in timing and method. Leopard geckos will shed at about two- to four-week intervals. The presence of moisture aids in the shedding. When shedding begins, the gecko will speed the process by detaching the loose skin from its body and eating it.
Geckos are polyphyodonts and able to replace each of their 100 teeth every 3 to 4 months.
The majority of geckos are nocturnal. This means they are active at night and sleep during the day.
Geckos eat anything that is small enough for them to overpower or capture and consume. Insects such as crickets and grasshoppers are their mainstay dietary choice in their native unrestricted environment. Geckos will also consume arthropods such as spiders, centipedes and small scorpions. Small rodents — particularly young still in the nest — are also on their list of prey. They even have cannibalistic tastes: They will eat hatchling geckos.
Mating habits vary among gecko species, but most include some type of courtship ritual. These rituals may include posturing, movements, vocalizations, and even physical nipping and nudging.
Most geckos are oviparous, meaning they reproduce by laying eggs. Females generally lay one or two eggs in a clutch. Most species reproduce once per year, although some like the leopard or tokay gecko may produce four to six clutches per year. Females deposit their eggs in protected locations under rocks, logs or tree bark. The eggs are white, sticky and have soft, pliable shells that quickly harden once they’re exposed to air. Depending on the species, the eggs incubate for 30 to 80 days before the fully formed baby geckos emerge.
Some species are parthenogenetic, which means the female is capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. This improves the gecko’s ability to spread to new islands. However, in a situation where a single female gecko populates an entire island, the island will suffer from a lack of genetic variation within the geckos that inhabit it.
Parental care among geckos is limited, if it exists at all.
Due to their small size, geckos have a number of natural predators around the world, with the snake being the main predator of the gecko. Other animals that prey on the gecko include large spiders, birds and some mammal species.
There are about 35 species of geckos that have no legs and look more like snakes.
The flying gecko, also known as the parachute gecko, is a fascinating lizard with the ability to glide from tree to tree in the wild. When the gecko leaps into the air, the flaps are used to generate lift and allow the gecko to control its fall. It can fly up to 60 meters (200 feet). Also it does a swoop at the end of its flight to land.
Depending on the species, their endangered status can range from least concern to critically endangered.
There is a general tradition about gecko, spelt “gecko” in Latin, which means fortune, re-growth and overall life.
Leopard geckos are one of the most popular types of lizards to own as a pet.