The gecko is a small to medium species of lizard that is found in the more temperate and tropical regions of the world. Geckos are more commonly found around the Equator and in the Southern Hemisphere although a few species of gecko are found north of the Equator in warmer regions.
There are thought to be over 2,000 different species of gecko found around the world and it is widely believed that there are more species of gecko that ate yet to be discovered, but basically only two types of geckos, those with movable eyelids and those without. Geckos are found in a wide variety of colours and have various different markings on their bodies depending on the species of gecko.
Geckos are found in a wide variety of habitats in the warmer parts of the world including rocky deserts, mountains, jungles, rainforests, grasslands and even in urban areas where it is common to find geckos in houses.
Geckos can range in size from just a few centimetre to more than 50 cm in length. The largest species of gecko is the Delcourt's gecko (which is now believed to be extinct), native to New Zealand and it grows to nearly 60 cm in length. The Jaragua Sphaero found in the Dominican Republic in South America, is the smallest species of gecko in the world and averages less than 2cm in length.
Geckos come in various patterns and colors and are among the most colourful lizards in the world. Some species can change color and may be lighter in color at night. Geckos are cold-blooded, which means they need the sun rays to warm them, the tiny scales protect them from the sun. Geckos are well known for their amazing ability to walk up vertical surfaces even those as smooth as glass. Most geckos have sticky toe pads, composed of microscopic Velcro-like, hooked bristles, called setae on the bottom of their feet. It allows them to climb on flat surfaces. Geckos that live in the desert areas have fringed feet that allow them to run across the sand very easily. This adaptation means that the gecko is a very agile animal.
Geckos are carnivorous reptiles so the diet of the gecko is based on meat from other animals. Geckos primarily eat insects and worms, but some of the larger species of gecko hunt small birds, reptiles and even small mammals such as mice. Some species of gecko are also known to eat a small amount of plant matter such as moss. Some species actually eat other geckos! 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. If a gecko is caught by the tail it will detach its tail. Geckos detach their tail as a defend mechanism, when the gecko feels threatened it will detach its tail and leaving it flailing to distract a possible predator. Soon enough, the gecko will grow back a new tail , a process called autotomy.
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 island. However in a situation where a single female gecko populates an entire island, the island will suffer from lack of genetic variation within the geckos that inhabit it. The gecko’s mating call sounds like a shortened bird chirping which attracts males, when they are nearby. After mating, the female gecko lays 2 sticky eggs, that have a soft shell and are white in colour. The gecko eggs quickly harden so that the developing gecko inside is more protected. The eggs of the gecko can take between 1 and 3 months to hatch but the incubation period is largely dependent on the species of gecko and the area in which it inhabit. The female gecko is not known to nurse or look after the baby geckos after they hatch.
Today, many species of gecko are considered to be threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and pollution. Geckos are also popular pets around the world and many are caught in the wild to be sold into the exotic pet trade. Common ones to have pets are Leopard Geckos and the Tokay Geckos. A Leopard Gecko is relatively easy to care for is naturally tame. They are nocturnal, meaning they sleep through the day and their skin is patterned with a cool leopard print. Most of today’s Leopard Geckos originated in Pakistan.