How geckos stay clean, even in a dusty environment

Most people would agree that being clean and looking good are important to being successful. The Geico Gecko, for example, promotes that clean slick appearance that the insurance company wants you to associate with their services and products. Interestingly enough, real geckos, already loaded with cool adaptations that help it be successful, also features special skin that has a self-cleaning mechanism.

Australian researchers from James Cook University in Queensland investigation were curious to find out what other magical properties the scaly animal’s skin might be hiding. Their study, “Removal mechanisms of dew via self-propulsion off the gecko skin,” found ‘little water-droplets that form via condensation on the gecko’s surface autonomously jump like popcorn off the animal’s skin as they merge and release energy taking all the dirt and dust with them.’

Similar “propulsion” mechanisms had only been observed in insect wings. The main advantage of the propulsion mechanism for insects is that their wings have to stay dry to function properly. And it seems it may have other advantages for geckos. Because microorganisms (bacteria) thrive in humid conditions, propulsion may help prevent infections.

Geckos are reptiles. They can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Geckos are capable of living in rain forests, deserts or cold mountain slopes. Over many years, geckos have developed many special features to help them survive and avoid predators. Most commonly known for their tails, they serve many purposes. In addition to balancing their weight while climbing, they store fat for energy. Geckos are also able to shed their tails if a predator grabs them.

Geckos are primarily nocturnal, but some geckos are active during the day foraging on insects, fruits, and flower nectar. Most geckos make chirping noises, barking sounds and clicking when defending territory or attracting a mate. Geckos lay eggs in leaves and bark. Most geckos don’t have movable eyelids. They have one transparent eyelid which they keep clean by licking it with their tongues.

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Smithereen Pest Management provides IPM pest services to residential and commercial clients in Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri.
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