Geckos are very clever nocturnal hunters with eyes that are up to 350 times more sensitive at night than humans.
Most geckos can't blink as they don't have any eyelids. So instead, one will clean the dust and dirt away by poking out its long tongue and licking its eyes.
Most geckos spend the day hiding under the bark of a nearby tree. Australia is home to around 111 species of these little soft skinned lizards, and native geckos can be found everywhere except for Tasmania.
Geckos are the super communicators of the reptile world and apart from legless lizards are the only lizards able to make noises. Their chirruping calls attract mates or let other geckos know that they are trespassing.
Geckos can also use body language to communicate with one another. Sometimes geckos gape at a threat, opening their mouth wide to seem larger and more dangerous.
A gecko's tail is a very useful tool; they can be waved around to signal to other geckos and can also be used to distract a predator.
A gecko can twitch its tail to lure a predator away from a gecko's body. If it is grabbed a gecko will drop its tail, breaking it deliberately at a special point called a fracture point. Muscles around the tail will then squeeze the blood vessels stopping the gecko from bleeding to death. When the tail grows back it won't have any bones and it will probably be a different colour to the rest of the gecko.
Most gecko species have special pads on their toes that allow them to cling to smooth vertical surfaces, even glass. This lets them escape from predators and hunt for prey that other lizards cannot.
What an amazing creature a gecko is. They well and truly make up for their small size and soft skin by using their behaviour to outwit many other much larger animals, find prey in difficult places and survive in some of the harshest places in Australia.
Has your sleep been punctuated by weird little yelps or mysterious metallic scrapes coming from the walls or roof?
Could be you have a resident gecko or two: geckos and legless lizards are the only lizards that can vocalize. Geckos live in many different habitats from rainforest to desert, tree-top to termite mound. A handful of species are bold enough to become your buddy and move into the garden or house. If they do, you’re in luck, because geckos are great gourmets when it comes to cockroaches, spiders and mosquitoes. You’ll never need pest control again.
In Queensland, the Native House Gecko Gehyra dubia (also known as the Dubious dtella) is a regular home visitor, while around the Sydney Basin area, the Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko Phyllurus platurus is often spotted in backyards. Their party trick is to cling to glass windows and even ceilings, thanks to their amazing sticky velcro-like feet covered by thousands of minute bristles.
You can tell geckos are about by the cries they make at night and also by their distinctive poo which they enjoy attaching to your walls (it’s small with a white tip). The native house gecko has a soft chattering call, while the leaf-tail has a loud hissing screech. The introduced Asian House Gecko (which looks very similar to our native house gecko) makes a much louder ‘chuck, chuck, chuck’ sound.
Some geckos creak like a cork being screwed out of a bottle - especially those last few turns before the cork goes 'pop'. Others make a sharp 'chirp!' or soft 'pip, pip, pip' like a small bird. Geckos get their name from the loud 'GECK-O!' call of the Asian Tokey Gecko Gecko gecko, while baby geckos make a soft screaming noise like an old fashioned kettle coming to the boil.
DID YOU KNOW?Biologists are worried about the spread of the Asian house gecko, first introduced accidentally into Darwin in the 1960s via container ships. This gecko has since spread north as far as the Torres Strait and right down to Coffs Harbour in New South Wales. While it has a similar pale pinkish appearance to the native house gecko, it also has small spines along the body. They are a problem, displacing native local geckos from houses in Darwin and Townsville. They have been observed fighting with local geckos and eating native skinks and have even tackled the nests of stinging paper wasps. Of greatest concern are the exotic parasites that Asian house geckos may spread to native geckos.
TIPIf you leave an outside light on, geckos will be attracted by the gathering moths and other insects. Look closely and you’ll see your house gecko has soft, translucent skin and large eyes to help it hunt under cover of darkness. Some geckos have such thin skin their eggs can be seen inside the body, especially if they are clinging to a window with the light behind them. You might even catch your gecko buddy licking its eyes – they need to work at keeping their eyes clean because they don’t have any eyelids.