gecko the gecko of the genre Gekkonidae, are some lizards small or medium size (depending on the species). They are found in warm environments.

The gecko with brown tones is more common in Europe
The gecko with brown tones is more common in Europe

Species

There are more than 1.000 different species of geckos, made up of six families of the Gekkota suborder:

  • Carphodactylidae
  • Diplodactylidae
  • Eublepharidae
  • Gekkonidae
  • Phyllodactylidae
  • Sphaerodactylidae

Inside to the family Sphaerodactylidae are the Ephharids, a group that includes: Scaly geckos (Coleonyx) from the southwestern United States, cat geckos (Aleuroscalabotes) from Indonesia and the Malaysian Peninsula. All of these species have movable eyelids.

It is still thought that there are more species that have not yet been discovered.

The greenish gecko is more common in tropical areas
The greenish gecko is more common in tropical areas

Features

The gecko can vary from a few centimeters to more than 50 cm in length. The largest species is the Delcourt's gecko (Hoplodactylus delcourti) actually Classified extinct by the IUCN native of New Zealand that could measure about 60 cm in length. The smallest species is the Jaragua sphaero (Sphaerodactylus ariasae) with only 2 cm in length.

The eyes are covered by a transparent protective covering. The pupils of the common nocturnal species are vertical and often lobed to form four points. The coa can be long and sharp, short and blunt, or globular. In some species the tail fulfills the function of a pantry where to store fat for use in unfavorable conditions. It is also brittle and has the ability to peel off to quickly regenerate to its original shape.

Behavior

The gecko is a nocturnal animal in most species. They can see at night, which helps them find their prey. Unlike other reptiles, they have a voice, which changes depending on the species, and ranges from a weak click to screech to a screech or bark.

They are known for their great ability to scale vertical surfaces, even smooth surfaces like glass. This is achieved because the pads of the long toes are covered with small plates, which in turn are covered with numerous hairs that branch at the end. These microscopic hooks can adhere to small surface irregularities, allowing them to scale smooth and vertical surfaces and even run on smooth ceilings. Some geckos have retractable claws.

Many species have the ability to run through the surface of the water without sinking, thanks to great speed. This ability is only found in the flat-tailed gecko (Hemidactylus platyurus)

Gecko resting on a glass surface.
Gecko resting on a glass surface.

Habitat

The gecko can be found in many different habitats as long as they are warm. So it is possible to find them in rocky deserts, mountains, jungles, rainforests, grasslands and even in urban areas where it is very common to find the common gecko (Mauritanian Tarentola) in our houses.

Distribution

The gecko is distributed by those regions that have warm climates. It generally survives in countries near the equator, since it needs a daily temperature that ranges between 25 - 31 ºC. If the temperature drops, at night below 20 ºC they will not be able to survive.

Food

The gecko is a carnivorous animal. They feed primarily on insects and worms, but the larger species hunt small birds, reptiles, and even small mammals such as mice. Other species can eat a small amount of plant matter, such as moss.

Predators

The gecko has numerous natural predators due to its small size. Its main predator is snakes, followed by spiders, birds, and some mammals.

Reproduction

Geckos are oviparous species, with the exception of a few species in New Zealand that give birth to live young. Once the female mates, she lays 2 white, soft-shelled, sticky eggs. These eggs quickly harden to protect the developing grecko. They are placed under the bark of trees or attached to the underside of the leaves.

The eggs can take between 1 - 3 months to hatch, but the incubation time depends on the species and the area in which it lives. Once the eggs hatch, the female disregards her offspring.

State of conservation

The gecko is currently classified as threatened. Many species have lost populations due to habitat loss and pollution. They also suffer from the humans who hunt them to trade with them.

Relationship with humans

The gecko is a popular pet around the world. Many of the individuals are caught in the wild to later be sold as exotic pets.

Popular culture

The gecko appears by many popular cultures as a rejected animal. The most common species in Europe, the gecko común (Mauritanian Tarentola) that for many indigenous cultures are considered poisonous, although they are totally harmless. Their nocturnal activity, elliptical pupils, and ability to climb are thought to suggest supernatural powers. Currently, the gecko continues to be rejected in human homes.

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