Look up at the ceiling and see this creature hanging upside down, turn to the walls and there it is! Wall, glass, rock name it, it does not matter what surface, it will be there! This is the fascinating gecko found in many areas around the world.
A gecko belongs to the lizard family. There are many types of such as the Tokay gecko which sports a bluish or greyish body, and has spots ranging from light yellow to bright red. This gecko can grow up to 50 centimeters in length and can weigh up to a whooping 400 grams!
These expert climbing geckos have defied gravity by their ability to produce sticky glue from the little hairs on their toes!Not only is that amazing but they can easily switch on or off the stickiness depending on the need. This sticking ability has greatly inspired incredible innovations such as using the putting the skin back on wounds without using stitches. Also in future, security personnel such as soldiers or those in intelligence may be able to use the same concept to design equipment that helps them to scale up walls(superman style)! And all this from a simple gecko!
Elsewhere in the world, geckos are popular for their medicinal properties. They are supposedly cures for illness such as cancer, skin disease , asthma, impotence, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Their tails are said to have medicine that can cure impotence. The geckos are sometimes dried and pounded into powder which is then sold to clients. Others put it in to wine called ‘Lizard wine’ or ‘Lizard alcohol’ which are said to rejuvenate the drinker by increasing their strength and energy.
Still, other people keep them as beloved pets while others consider them a delicacy!
In Asia, trading in geckos is a flourishing business because it is believed that their body parts cure many diseases. For instance one kilogram of Tokay meat could cost 10,000 euros on the international market! This has led to many people hunting them down especially the younger ones that are easier to catch. Naturally, their population is becoming lesser and it is eventually becoming extinct ! As the businesses, cross borders and many people with interest in the geckos move to areas like Africa, the gecko may be one of the animals found on the endangered list very soon! So watch it. This amazing creature may become a creature of the past!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor