Walking on hairy feet
by Roel de Plecker
The genus Rhacodactylus includes the world's largest geckos. The Leach's Giant Gecko (Rhacodactylus laechianus) is the biggest one with a maximum body length of 25 centimeters. Their habitats are the humid forests of the islands of New Caledonia, where these lizards live in the canopy of trees close to small streams. Sometimes they will come down from the tree, females lay their 1 or 2 eggs in the forest floor, and mostly they lay in tree hollows. Being primarily nocturnal, these geckos do seem to bask in the sun.
Leach's Giant Gecko has been reported to have eaten insects and devoured lizards and even birds! But it does seem to have a preference for fruits, especially during fig fruiting periods. These geckos are highly vocal, and you can note several call types. Irritated individuals even inflate themselves with air and produce distress barks when handled.
Their base coloration, which is typically brownish, grayish or greenish, resembles the bark of the trees where they live in, providing them excellent camouflage against predators. Some individuals have white bands. Others have pinkish bars on their flanks, a lot of variation has been seen in this species. They are also characterized by large folds of skin along the margins of their body and limbs, and they have amazing webbed digits.
Like all arboreal geckos, they have specialized feet; with these, they can adhere to any surface except for Teflon. They even can walk upside down thanks to the microscopic hairs or setae. They increase the ‘Van der Waals Forces', which is the distance-dependent attraction between atoms or molecules, between its feet and the surface. The molecules interact with each other and create an electromagnetic attraction.
In Costa Ballena, various species of geckos can be observed, like the invasive Asian house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), or the beautiful yellow-headed gecko (Gonatodes albogularis), to Costa Rica's biggest gecko which is the turnip tail gecko (Thecadactylus rapicauda).
To admire the real giant of the gecko world, come and visit Parque Reptilandia!
Taking a walk through this place not only recharges you with good energy and happiness, but it is also a gift for the soul to appreciate such beautiful views. The diversity in attractions is fascinating. You can enjoy from the newly opened Butterfly Kingdom, fresh trout, hot springs, Swiss cheeses, chocolate factory, to delicious artisan bread. Restaurants offer unique cuisine, hotels, trails and birdwatching.
Just look back, when you are in one of the almost pristine beaches of the South Pacific, to appreciate its prominent presence. This mountainous row extends parallel along the south coast, a barrier between the General Valley and the “Ballena Coast”.
These are cities located within a radius of 26 km in the canton of Osa, which is the greenest in Costa Rica. It has an area of 1930.24 km² and boasts exotic forests, rivers, waterfalls and an exquisite cultural wealth.