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Some species in the gecko family lack legs.Shutterstock Premium/Shutterstock
There are upward of 35 lizard species in the Pygopodidae family. This family falls under the clade of Gekkota, which includes six families of geckos. These species — all of which are endemic to Australia and New Guinea — lack forelimbs and have only vestigial hind limbs that look more like flaps. The species are usually called legless lizards, snake lizards or, thanks to those flap-like back feet, flap-footed lizards.
Like other species of gecko, pygopods can vocalize, emitting high-pitched squeaks for communication. They also have stand-out hearing, and are capable of hearing tones higher than those detectable by any other reptile species.
Geckos can ditch their tails as a strategy for escaping predators.Matt Jeppson/Shutterstock
Like many species of lizard, geckos are able to drop their tails as a response to predation. When a gecko is grabbed, the tail drops off and continues to twitch and thrash about, providing a great distraction that might allow the gecko to escape from a hungry predator. Geckos also drop their tails as a response to stress, infection, or if the tail itself is grabbed.
Amazingly, geckos drop their tails along a pre-scored or “dotted line,” so to speak. It's a design that allows a gecko to lose its tail quickly and with minimal damage to the rest of its body.
A gecko can regrow its dropped tail, though the new tail will likely be shorter, more blunt, and colored a bit differently than the original tail. The crested gecko is one species that cannot regrow its tail; once it's gone, it's gone.
This leggy guy is a lined flat-tail gecko.reptiles4all/Shutterstock
Losing a tail isn't a favorable event for a gecko, not only because it's an energy-intensive process to regrow a whole tail, but also because a gecko stores nutrients and fat in its tail as a protection against times when food is scarce.
Because of this, for many species a plump, well-rounded tail is a good way to gauge the individual gecko's health. Depending on the species, a thin tail might indicate starvation or illness.
7. Geckos Can Live a Long, Long Time
Geckos range in life span depending on the species, but many will live around five years in the wild. Several species that are popular as pets, however, can live quite a bit longer.
In captivity, a well-tended gecko can live between 10 to 20 years. Leopard geckos average between 15 to 20 years, though the longest lived individual is recorded at 27 years old.
If you didn't have eyelids, you might resort to this solution, too.Ian Schofield/Shutterstock
Perhaps one of the oddest facts about geckos is that most species lack eyelids. Because they cannot blink, they lick their eyes to keep them clean and moist. (Well, technically, they're licking the transparent membrane that covers the eyeball.)
Find the gecko! Some species of gecko stand out with bright colors while others blend perfectly into their surroundings.Shutterstock Premium/Shutterstock
It’s not only chameleons that can change color to match their surroundings. Geckos can, too. What’s more, they can blend into their environment without even seeing their surroundings!
In studying Moorish geckos Domenico Fulgione and his team discovered that it isn’t their vision that the geckos use to blend in, but rather the skin of their torso. They sense, rather than see, their surroundings to camouflage themselves, using light-sensitive proteins in the skin known as opsins.
Other species of gecko are particularly adapted to blend in with their habitat based on their skin patterns, which make them look like lichen, textured rock or moss, such as the mossy leaf-tailed gecko, the Wyberba leaf-tailed gecko pictured above, or the satanic leaf-tailed gecko, pictured below.
The satanic leaf-tailed gecko is one truly bizarre lizard.Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock
Speaking of, this species is worth discussing, since few geckos are so incredibly well adapted to look exactly like a leaf — and a demonic leaf, at that! This species of gecko looks identical to dry leaves found on the forest floor or even among branches, right down to the veined skin and the insect-nibbled notches.
Endemic to Madagascar, the species relies on this uncanny resemblance to dead leaves to escape the detection of predators. To complete the masquerade, satanic leaf-tailed geckos will even hang from branches to look like a leaf curling away from a stem.
Ultimately, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko is a stand-out creature that you’d be hard-pressed to locate!
A gliding gecko uses its webbed skin to 'fly' from tree to tree.NeagoneFo/Shutterstock
The flying gecko, or parachute gecko, is a genus of arboreal gecko species found in Southeast Asia. While they aren’t capable of independent flight, they get their name from their ability to glide using the flaps of skin found on their feet and their flat, rudder-like tails.
The flying gecko can glide up to 200 feet (60 meters) in a single bound, despite measuring only about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in body length.
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12. The Smallest Gecko Species Is Less Than 2 Centimeters in Length
Geckos vary in size, but the most diminutive of species can fit on a dime. The Jaragua sphaero, or dwarf gecko, is one of the world's smallest reptiles. This and another gecko species, S. parthenopion, measure just 0.63 inches (1.6 cm) in length from snout to tail. The small gecko has an equally small range, as it's believed to be limited to only the Jaragua National Park in the Dominican Republic, and Beata Island.