Geckos: Disposable Parts

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be unable to outrun an enemy and be too small to fight? The answer for most geckos is to give up their tail. Built-in weak spots in the bones of the tail make it easy to break. Most require a tug, but some geckos can pop off their own tail by pushing it against an object.  The broken tail wriggles to distract the predator, and muscles around the break quickly seal torn blood vessels in the gecko’s body. Most geckos eventually grow a new tail supported by cartilage instead of bone.  Re-generated tails are also shorter and lack the color and texture of the original.

geckotailA common frog-eyed gecko (Teratoscincus scincus) who has “dropped” its tail.

Another interesting adaption of geckos has is known as “Shock Shedding”. Grab the wrong gecko and you’ll find yourself holding nothing but skin! Gecko skin has two layers of dermis, creating built-in “tear zones.”  The outer skin easily peels off as the gecko squirms free and the inner layer remains as a barrier against infection.

Reptiland currently exhibits four species of geckos, including the giant leaf-tailed gecko, lined leaf-tailed gecko, tokay gecko, and giant day gecko. Additionally, you can create your own gecko when you pay a visit to our Build-A-Gecko interactive station!