18.1.13Posted by Jeanne
I found this little fella sharing my shower this morning. Sweet, isn't he? Jemimah was keen to keep him for a few hours (we have a 'release at sunset' policy here), but he seemed a bit distressed - probably the dousing with hot water that he received before I noticed him didn't help his mood any - so she released him into the backyard and he quickly scuttled to safety under a pile of gumnuts.
Our little visitor was a marbled gecko, Christinus marmoratus, recognisable by its large finger and toe pads and flat body, often with orange coloured specks on the tail. They reach up to 70 mm snout to vent. Our little chap had lost his tail, which they do when under extreme stress as a survival mechanism, and is in the process of growing a new one, an activity that will take a few months.
The most cool bit about geckos is their foot pads and their ability to hang on almost any surface (except Teflon). This ability has been attributed to van der Waals forces between the surface and the spatulae, or microscopic projections, which cover the hair-like setae found on their footpads. Apparently the the attractive force of a gecko footpad is estimated at over 10000kgs per square centimetre. Wow.
Let David Attenborough tell you more.
Before our little gecko ran off we took a few photos so that Jemimah could paint him in her nature notebook, and then he was gone.
I must say, it was nice not to have him in my shower with me, even though he was terribly cute as well as being a miracle of nano molecular materials engineering.
(No, I don't really know that he was a male. I just chose a pronoun. Marbled geckos are really difficult to sex.)