I mentioned at the end of my first post on Leos, albeit with a pretty tacky joke, that leopard geckos have an interesting trait that separates them (Eublepharis macularius) from most other species of geckos. And no, it’s not their inability to sell you car insurance.
Unlike many other species of geckos, leopard geckos lack “sticky feet.” Some species have very small hairs on their feet called setae which, in combination with van der Waals forces (remember physics class?), allow them to cling to surfaces such as trees or the side of a terrarium.
As noted in this post on Discovery News, gravity and body orientation help cue geckos as to when to engage those tiny hairs for their sticky purposes. Some, such as Keller Autumn, a biophysicist at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon (aka the guy who first discovered how geckos stick), also believe geckos [quote]: “might have structures in their ears that tell them when they need to risk damaging their setae for the sake of hanging on,” although no one has studied that yet. Pretty cool, right?
One thing that IS for certain is that leopard geckos do not have these setae, likely as a result of taking a different evolutionary path than some other species of geckos.
While they don’t stick around like some other species of geckos, Leos do have one distinct feature that most others don’t: eyelids. Most researchers believe leopard geckos developed these translucent, movable eyelids because of their natural habitat, (rocky, desert-like parts of the world such as Afghanistan and Pakistan) where a certain genetic trait such as eyelids would come in handy against dust, sandstorms, etc. An interesting behavior that I have witnessed with my Leos is that they will lick their eyelids to keep them moistened. Now that’s talent.
As you can probably tell, I’m quite fascinated by leopard geckos. If you share my passion for reptiles, can lick your eyelid (showoff!), or have any other interesting stories about your geckos or reptiles that you want to share, I encourage you to post them in the comments.