Top 5 Weird Facts About Geckos

Updated on September 5, 2019
Jana Louise Smit profile image

Jana loves compiling and sharing lists about the natural world, science, and history.

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1. The Relentless Caller

In 2018, things turned strange at the Kei Kai Ola hospital in Hawaii. During normal days, the facility helps Hawaiian monk seals. On that particular day, the director received a phone call from the center. When she answered, there was only silence.

Dr. Claire Simeone wasn't at the hospital, but soon she got so many calls that she rushed over there in a hurry, fearing a seal crisis had broken out somewhere. Upon her arrival, a staff member informed the confused Simeone that nobody had called her.

The Weird Factor rose considerably when people started calling the hospital. Each one insisted on wanting to know why the center kept phoning them. Not just once or twice. Oh no, somebody from the hospital dialed people non-stop. Simeone checked with the phone company and a technician confirmed that a “bazillion” calls had been made from one line at the hospital.

The director searched the facility to confront the person—and found a gecko. It turned out that a gold-dusted day gecko was playing footsie with the phone's touch screen. Miraculously, it had gained access to the hospital's calling list and the rest is history.

2. Geckos That Resemble Raw Chicken

Think geckos couldn't possibly get any cuter? Alright, it depends on what your view on cute is.

In 2004, a new species was discovered in Madagascar. When Geckolepis megalepis must make a quick getaway, the lizard loses its skin. Four other lizard species do the same thing, so the concept's not unique.

However, what makes the Madagascar gecko so remarkable is the physical lengths it goes to in order to skin itself. The creature peels itself off down to the muscle. This happens bloodlessly and creates an adorable-looking gecko that resembles a raw chicken or a hairless puppy.

Before and After (Madagascar Gecko)

A and B show two specimens before they shed their skin. C shows a gecko after the fact.
A and B show two specimens before they shed their skin. C shows a gecko after the fact. | Source

3. One Lived Inside Somebody's Ear

A few years ago, a man in China woke up. This wasn't your normal awakening because the rooster crowed or the cursed alarm clock went off. The unnamed patient's sleep was interrupted by a severe earache. It was so bad that he decided to go to the hospital.

The doctors dutifully gazed into his ear. To their surprise, they saw a tiny gecko curled up inside the ear canal. At first, they thought it was dead. However, when a tweezer attempted to remove the reptile, it struggled. The man was eventually relieved of his strange visitor, but the lizard was missing its tail. Thankfully, it was not inside the guy's ear.

4. They Walk on Water

Sometimes, geckos behave like little aliens. They defy gravity by walking on the ceiling. They survive snapping their spines in order to cast off their tails. The goobers also walk across water. In 2019, researchers finally solved the mystery of how they stay afloat while scurrying over liquid.

This seemingly magical ability was a combination of different moves and forces. Each step saw the creature's paw swing through the air, slap the water's surface and then finally stroking through it. Along with the forces of buoyancy and movement-driven hydrodynamic lifting (think of a motorboat skimming over the surface of a lake), the gecko achieves the desired airiness.

The technique is not perfect. The critter's tail still drags underwater which creates a lot of resistance. To counter this, geckos turn into tiny crocodiles. Rather, they move like them. By weaving their bodies through the water, they create propulsion strong enough to break the resistance.

The lizards use millions of microscopic hairs on their feet to scale walls and ceilings.
The lizards use millions of microscopic hairs on their feet to scale walls and ceilings. | Source

5. A Strong Death Grip

In 2014, scientists pondered an odd question. Should a gecko die while climbing up a wall or traipsing across the ceiling, would it continue to stick to the surface or fall off? The clinginess of geckos is not fully understood. Researchers know that millions of tiny bristles make their toes sticky. However, nobody could say for sure whether this ability was voluntary or automatic.

As it turns out, geckos cannot actively control their gummy feet. During tests, two lizards were placed on a sheet and it was determined that their “clinging force” was around 20 times more than what they weighed. Unfortunately, the animals were euthanized for the second half of the study.

Around seven minutes after death, the geckos were placed against the same acrylic plate. Remarkably, their feet behaved in the same way as in life. Their grip remained just as strong and even their toes' angle, stretch, and position remained similar.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jana Louise Smit

    Comments

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      • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

        Jana Louise Smit 

        7 weeks ago from South Africa

        Thank you, Sp. Geckos are amazing little creatures. I'm glad you enjoyed reading more about them.

      • sangre profile image

        Sp Greaney 

        7 weeks ago from Ireland

        I've heard of these creatures but did not know much about them. Very interesting hub.

      • Jana Louise Smit profile imageAUTHOR

        Jana Louise Smit 

        2 months ago from South Africa

        Thanks, Linda. I always appreciate your comments. I think they were convinced they had a prank caller on their hands, the human kind. Nobody likes those, haha. A cute gecko can be forgiven.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        You've shared some very interesting facts about geckos. The first one was amusing, though I don't suppose the people involved in the situation thought that it was funny!

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