MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: What Traits Help Geckos Live In Hot And Dry Places

Date: Thu May 20 16:04:57 1999
Posted By: Ruth Allard, Conservation Biologist, American Zoo and Aquarium Association
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 925252358.Zo

Hello Steven,

Thanks for your question.  I have a quick answer for you, but first I have 
to mention that there are over 700 different species of geckos in the 
world, and many of them are found in tropical areas which are hot, but not 
dry.  However, there are several species native to deserts, so I'll focus 
on their traits here.  

In Peterson's Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians (by Robert 
Stebbins, 1985), I learned that the western banded gecko "can live in 
extremely dry parts of the desert because of its nocturnal and subterranean 

Desert geckos stay cool by hiding under rocks, plants, logs, and by hanging 
out in other shady spots, including nooks and crannies in urban areas.  As 
another way to conserve energy and to stay out of the heat of the sun in 
the desert (particularly in summertime), most geckos are most active at 
night or early in day before ground surfaces get hot.  

Four gecko species are native to desert areas in the western US, and one 
other species (Mediterranean) has been introduced.  Mediterranean 
geckos are also nocturnal, but they are generally found in urban areas, so 
they are not as likely to hang out in extreme habitats.

Here's an interesting tidbit:  many species of geckos have immovable 
eyelids, so their eyes are open all the time, like snakes.

I looked for gecko information on the web and mostly found pages on 
maintaining geckos as pets.  For basic biological information, field guides 
are a great start.

Keep asking questions!


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