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I wish I could do that

April 30, 2018

My childhood was populated with wonderful stories of strange creatures from other places – cormorants with rings around their necks to stop them eating the fish they caught, snakes large enough to crush a man to death and insects that look indistinguishable from sticks. I have subsequently seen all these things – apart from the crushing bit.

Last night I was reminded of this when the ‘ghost’ of a hunting gecko walked outside on the kitchen window (pictured left). Of course lizards that could walk on vertical glass surfaces were also one of my childhood wonders. A search of the house exterior the next day revealed a Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus), pictured below right, on the brick wall.

Those who have stayed in tropical climes will be familiar with some of the characteristics of geckos. They are territorial and patrol their patch of the house looking for insects to eat. They also have a very loud chirp or cough which is used for communications. The Marbled Gecko is the most southerly distributed gecko in Australia. Unlike many other geckos it lays hard-shelled rather than soft-shelled eggs.

The ability for geckos to climb on most surfaces is not due to suction cups on their toes as I used to believe. Nor is it due to surface tension. The pads of a gecko’s toes have hair-like outgrowths. Weak intermolecular bonds (van der Waals’ forces) between these structures and the surface molecules allow the gecko to walk vertically on most surfaces.

However for me the most amazing feature about these animals is that they have no eyelids. To clean its cornea the gecko simply licks it with its tongue. I wish I could do that.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2018 7:53 am

    We recently had a family holiday in Bali, all three generations. My great delight was going to be introducing my grandson to Bali’s flora and fauna, including the wonderful innumerable geckos that patrol at night. I didn’t see one ! My deduction upon learning of the now widespread chemical fogging of tourist areas is that the insects have disappeared , followed by the geckos. We saw one Water Dragon in a very polluted stream but not much else. Leaving the coast behind and travelling inland, the geckos reappeared , patrolling our Ubud losmen every night . They too don’t like crowds , or chemical sprays. We get quite a number on the windows of our Numurkah home , along with frogs , cleaning up the moths and other insects at night .

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