AskDefine | Define gecko

Dictionary Definition

gecko n : any of various small chiefly tropical and usually nocturnal insectivorous terrestrial lizards typically with immovable eyelids; completely harmless [also: geckoes (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Gecko




Malay gekok


gecko (plural geckos or geckoes)
  1. Any lizard of the family Geckonidae. They are small, carnivorous, mostly nocturnal animals with large eyes and adhesive toes enabling them to climb on vertical surfaces.


Any lizard of the family Geckonidae.

Extensive Definition

Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae which are found in warm climates throughout the world. Geckos are unique among lizards in their vocalizations, making chirping sounds in social interactions with other geckos. There are 1,196 different species of geckos. The name stems from the Indonesian/Javanese word gekok, imitative of its cry. The Malay word for gecko is 'cicak'. Most geckos have no eyelids and instead have a transparent membrane which they lick to clean. Many species will, in defense, expel a foul-smelling material and feces onto their aggressors. Many species have specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces and even cross indoor ceilings with ease. These antics are well-known to people who live in warm regions of the world, where several species of geckos make their home inside human habitations. These species (for example the house gecko) become part of the indoor menagerie and are seldom really discouraged because they feed on insects (pests).

Common traits

Geckos come in various colors and patterns. Some are subtly patterned, and somewhat rubbery looking, while others can be brightly colored. Some species can change color to blend in with their surroundings or with temperature differences. Some species are parthenogenic, the females capable of reproducing without copulating with a male. This improves the gecko's ability to spread to new islands.
The toes of the gecko have attracted a lot of attention,as they adhere to a wide variety of surfaces, without the use of liquids or surface tension. Recent studies of the spatula tipped setae on gecko footpads demonstrate that the attractive forces that hold geckos to surfaces are van der Waals interactions between the finely divided setae and the surfaces themselves. A single foot of a gecko can contain almost 500,000 setae each about twice the diameter of a human hair, i.e. 100 millionths of a meter, and each of these is in turn tipped with between 100 and 1,000 spatulae. Each spatula is 200 billionths of a meter long, or just below the wavelength of visible light. These kinds of interactions involve no fluids; in theory, a boot made of synthetic setae would adhere as easily to the surface of the International Space Station as it would to a living room wall, although adhesion varies with humidity and is dramatically reduced under water, suggesting a contribution from capillarity. The setae on the feet of geckos are also self cleaning and will usually remove any clogging dirt within a few steps. Teflon, which is specifically engineered to resist van der Waals forces, is the only known surface to which a gecko cannot stick.
Geckos' toes seem to be "double jointed", but this is a misnomer. Their toes actually bend in the opposite direction from our fingers and toes. This allows them to overcome the van der Waals force by peeling their toes off surfaces from the tips inward. In essence, this peeling action alters the angle of incidence between millions of individual setae and the surface, reducing the van der Waals force. Geckos' toes operate well below their full attractive capabilities for most of the time. This is because there is a great margin for error depending upon the roughness of the surface, and therefore the number of setae in contact with that surface. If a typical mature 70 g gecko had every one of its setae in contact with a surface, it would be capable of holding aloft a weight of 133 kg: each spatula can exert an adhesive force of 10 nN.
The family Gekkonidae is divided into five subfamilies, containing numerous genera of gecko species. Many geckos are kept as pets and will eat various kinds of insects and sometimes fruit. They change their sexes in different seasons. Geckos are found (rarely) in the Galapagos Islands.

Common species of gecko

  • Bibron's gecko, Pachydactylus bibroni — Native to Southern Africa, this hardy arboreal gecko is relatively common as a pet.
  • Crested gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus — Believed extinct until re-discovered in 1994. Gaining in popularity as a pet. Unlike most other geckos, it prefers room temperature and is omnivorous.
  • Crocodile gecko or Moorish gecko (due to their crocodile like looks.), Tarentola mauritanica — Crocodile geckos are very strong and heavily built for their size usually growing up to 15.24 cm (6 in). They are commonly found in the Mediterranean region from the Iberian Peninsula and southern France to Greece and northern Africa. Their most distinguishing characteristic is their pointed head and spiked skin with their tail resembling that of a crocodile's.
  • Cyrtopodion brachykolon; commonly known as "bent-toed gecko", found in north-western Pakistan.
  • Gargoyle gecko, Rhacodactylus auriculatus — commonly known as the New Caledonian bumpy gecko or gargoyle gecko.
  • Gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda laticauda (Boettger, 1880) (syn. Pachydactylus laticauda Boettger, 1880)) is a diurnal subspecies of geckos. It lives in northern Madagascar and on the Comoros.
  • Golden gecko, Gekko ulikovskii — native to the warm rainforests of Vietnam.
  • House gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus — A species that thrives around man and human habitation structures in the tropics and subtropics world wide.
  • Indo-Pacific gecko, Hemidactylus garnotii — Also known as a fox gecko because of its long, narrow snout. This species is found in houses throughout the tropics. This gecko may eat leafcutter ants.
  • New Caledonian giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus — first described by Cuvier in 1829, is the largest of the Rhacodactylus geckos.
  • Leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius — The most common gecko kept as a pet is the leopard gecko, which does not have toe pads with setae, but rather claws. These enable it to more easily climb on rough surfaces like tree bark. This gecko cannot climb the glass of a terrarium. The leopard gecko tends to be docile and calm. This gecko can eat butterworms, cockroaches, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and superworms.
  • Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus — residential and wild, introduced species (USA).
  • Mourning gecko, originally and East Asian and Pacific species, Lepidodactylus lugubris is equally at home in the wild as in residential neighborhoods. Found in Hawaii, it may have been an early Polynesian introduction. A parthenogenic species. There is a report from Hawaii of someone having seen a larger gecko of this type eating a smaller one (or rather, running away from view with a smaller gecko halfway out of its mouth) on two occasions.
  • Ptychozoon, — a genus of arboreal gecko from Southeast Asia, known as Flying Geckos or Parachute Geckos, has wing-like flaps from the neck to the upper leg, to help it conceal itself on trees and provide lift while jumping.
  • Stump-toed gecko, Gehyra mutilata (Peropus mutilatus) — This gecko, commonly referred to as a Gheckl, can vary its color from very light to very dark to blend into a background. At home in the wild as well as in residential neighborhoods.
  • Tree gecko, Hemiphyllodactylus typus — Tree geckos are forest dwellers.
  • Tokay gecko, Gekko Gecko — a large, common, Southeast Asian gecko known for its aggressive temperament, loud mating calls, and bright markings.
  • Western banded gecko, Coleonyx variegatus — Native to southwestern United States and northwest Mexico.

In culture

State symbols

Corporate symbols

  • In the past few years, geckos have entered into the consciousness of the USA as the advertising icon for the insurance company GEICO, whose advertisements feature an animated anthropomorphic gecko (of the Phelsuma genus) that speaks English with an East London accent.
  • The current mascot of SUSE Linux distribution is a gecko called Geeko, also known as the "SUSE Lizard", but is a Chameleon for the shape.
  • The logo of the car builder Wiesmann is a gecko.

Video Games


  • A gecko called Geronimo features in the book My Family and Other Animals by the celebrated naturalist Gerald Durrell.
  • Edgar, a character from the webcomic Pandect is an Ace of Blue and White geckos. He is possibly a piebald blue gecko.
  • In the book Spud, the narrator's friend (who dies of malaria) is named Gecko (due to the fact that he's always sick).

Film and television

  • In the anime and manga One Piece, one of the character is named Gecko Moria, and has a Gecko theme.
  • In the horror film Aberration there were mutated geckos.
  • In the animated film Madagascar there is a dancing Gecko used as the King Lemur's new crown
  • the Malaysian superhero Cicak-Man is designed based on the gecko; cicak is Malay for gecko.
  • the character for the Geico commercials is a gecko.
  • In TV-sitcom Frasier episode The First Temptation Of Daphne Niles and Frasier use a gecko to catch a cricket in Frasier's apartment.


  • The horrorcore rap artist Geckolands often references geckos in his songs, mostly in his first album.


Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) image:Leaf Tailed Gecko P9240101.JPG|Leaf Tailed Gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus) image:Theothersideofgecko.jpg|Bottom view of a gecko. image:SmallGeckoLescalaBeach.jpg|Small Gecko in L'Escala, Spain image:Gecko_Honolulu.JPG|A gecko in Kapiolani Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

See also


  • Forbes, Peter (4th Estate, London 2005) 'The Gecko's Foot - Bio Inspiration: Engineered from Nature' ISBN 0-00-717990-1 in H/B
gecko in Arabic: أبو بريص
gecko in Min Nan: Siān-thâng
gecko in Bulgarian: Геконови
gecko in Catalan: Dragó
gecko in Czech: Gekonovití
gecko in German: Geckos
gecko in Spanish: Gekkonidae
gecko in Esperanto: Geko
gecko in French: Gekkonidae
gecko in Croatian: Macaklini
gecko in Italian: Gekkonidae
gecko in Hebrew: שממיתיים
gecko in Javanese: Tekek
gecko in Georgian: გეკონისებრნი
gecko in Lithuanian: Gekonai
gecko in Malay (macrolanguage): Cicak
gecko in Min Dong Chinese: Ciēng
gecko in Dutch: Gekko's
gecko in Japanese: ヤモリ科
gecko in Norwegian: Gekkoer
gecko in Polish: Gekony
gecko in Portuguese: Gekkonidae
gecko in Russian: Гекконовые
gecko in Simple English: Gecko
gecko in Slovak: Gekónovité
gecko in Sundanese: Cakcak
gecko in Finnish: Gekot
gecko in Swedish: Geckoödlor
gecko in Thai: ตุ๊กแก
gecko in Contenese: 檐蛇
gecko in Chinese: 壁虎
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