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.

gecko feet

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!





The mystic mountains, only 20 km away from the bustling shopping oasis of San Isidro, nestled in the Talamanca mountain range, lays the Cloudbridge Reserve. It extends up to 2600m along the foot of the Chirripo, the highest mountain in Costa Rica.

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