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Friday, June 8, 2001

ANIMAL TRACKER

Gecko


*Japanese name:Nihon yamori *Scientific name:Gekko japonicus * Description: A type of lizard, geckos are soft-bodied, 10-14 cm long, bright gray in color, with bands or speckles on their backs and bulging eyes in a large head. Geckos have special expanded toes with suction pads that allow them to climb on glass and upside down on ceilings. The name probably comes from the "ge-ko" call that they make. *Where to find them:In houses. This species of gecko is common in cities from Honshu to Kyushu. They breed from May to August, and females lay one or two clutches of eggs in crevices in walls. The eggs take about 50 days to hatch. *Food:Geckos are carnivorous, eating insects that also live in houses. Maybe this is why in Japanese they are called "house guardians." * Special features: Like many lizards, geckos can automatically detach their tail if attacked by a predator (such as a cat). Special cells at the base of the tail snap shut the blood vessels so no blood is lost, but the gecko does lose a valuable supply of fat. Tails contain fat that the gecko can use if food supplies are short. The tail contains bone and nerves, but receives no signals from the brain when detached, so it jumps about and twitches on its own until it "dies." A tail jumping about on its own is enough to startle most predators, and the gecko can make its escape and grow a new tail.



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