BY BRIANA MAGISTRO
SC Staff Writer
Geckos are small, tropical lizards that like to climb trees. An unusual spectacle comes in the form of the crested gecko.
Crested geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliates) are thus named for their eyelash-like projections above their eyes. The word “cilia” is Latin for “fringe” or “eyelash.” If you look at some protozoa, they have ciliated membranes, hair-like organelles, which resemble the scales projecting above the crested gecko’s eyes.
Just a skip, hop, and a jump to the east of Australia, New Caledonia is home to the crested gecko. New Caledonia provides both a warm, wet season, and a cooler, dry season for these lizards.
If kept in captivity, crested geckos may be kept at room temperature. They require high humidity, and must be misted with a spray bottle several times a day. This also gives them access to water in a way that they would otherwise find naturally. In the wild, a crested gecko will drink water droplets from the trees in which it roosts.
Crested geckos will climb high into trees to stay away from predators lurking on the ground. In captivity, geckos prefer height rather than width for their tanks. The higher they can climb, the safer they feel.
These lizards have a varying diet, ranging from small insects to fruit. In captivity, you may find that crickets are a common part of the gecko’s diet. They will also eat mashed fruit, which can be found in the baby aisle of grocery stores, or meal replacement powder.
Most geckos can shed their tails in an instant. This usually occurs when the gecko feels unsafe. In the wild, a gecko will drop its tail to distract a chasing predator. In captivity, this most commonly occurs from incorrect handling and grabbing at the tail.
Unlike most other species of gecko, the crested gecko will not regrow its tail after having dropped it. It will, instead, remain as a short nub. After losing its tail, the crested gecko will have to relearn how to jump and move, since its tail typically aids in balance.
Geckos have special toe pads that help them climb vertical surfaces, including glass. Gecko toe pads contain hundreds of tiny hair-like projections called spatulae. These spatulae cause Van der Waals’ reactions (electrostatic attractive forces between uncharged molecules) to occur between them and surfaces. This helps geckos climb quickly out of the reach of danger.
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