Leopard Gecko Characteristics
Leopard Gecko Characteristics - Anatomy Explanation
Leopard Gecko Characteristics - Anatomy
The Leopard Gecko Characteristics - Anatomy is what helps define this spectacular animal and helps set it apart from the other geckos. In this section we will explore the defining leopard gecko characteristics and learn more about their physical anatomy.
Leopard geckos, opposed to some other lizard species, have a unique quality to the shape of their head. Contrary to the normal "V" shaped head that melds into the body of most lizards, the leopard gecko has a triangular shaped head with a protruding neck in which it connects to the torso.
Many gecko species are nocturnal. This means that they sleep most of the day and become active at night, or as the sun sets and rises. Leopard geckos are one of these species. Their vertical pupils expand and contract to help refract what little light may be present. In doing so, they are able to see clear enough at night to detect, hunt, and capture prey.
Their keen "night vision" also allows them the ability to see visible landmarks in their habitat, allowing them to navigate their terrain sufficiently.
Geckos do indeed have ears. The clear tympanic membrane is clearly noticeable on the sides of the head. (See diagram above.) Do not be fooled by what appears to be a hollow ear canal, leopard geckos actually have good hearing. Their hearing ability is believed to aid them in the hunt for prey and to hear other geckos that may be in the general area. It can also assist them with eluding predators that may be in the area.
Taste - Smell
As you will notice, leopard geckos have an unusually long tongue. The tongue supports both taste and a secondary scent ability. Like snakes, the leopard gecko has a vomeronasal organ (Jacobson's organ). This organ is located below the nasal cavity in the palate of the mouth. As the gecko flicks it tongue into the air, and on surfaces, it is collecting air particles. When the tongue retracts, the particles that were collected come into contact with the vomeronasal organ and help to identify objects and items.
Leopard geckos, like many other animals, have the ability to vocalize. This vocalization is typically displayed by younger geckos and often is a result of fear and used as a defensive behavior. Older geckos that have been raised in captivity are far less likely to vocalize unless they are startled.
Leopard geckos are a terrestrial species that lack lamellae, which is the padding on the bottom of certain species that allows them the ability to climb vertical surfaces. Instead, leopard geckos are equipped with small sharp nails extending from the end of each digit. These nails allow the leopard gecko to dig and climb small rocks and jagged surfaces. which is specific to their native habitat.
Another characteristic of the leopard geckos their long, plump tail. Marked with vibrant colors, the tail is undoubtedly one of the focal points that represent the leos beauty. The tail however serves a very important function.
A leopard geckos tail is a storage unit for fat. In their native habitat, climatic changes can create periods of time where food is not present. During the times when food is scarce, leopard geckos will draw on the fat supply they have stored in their tail to get through these periods. Once food is plentiful again, the leopard gecko will restore the lost fat content and the cycle repeats itself.
The tail can also be used as a life saving device. Leopard geckos are autotomous (Caudal Autotomy). When a leopard gecko finds itself the victim of a predator, they can force their tail to fall off. As the dropped tail moves about and the predator is distracted, the leo makes a hasty escape to one of its nearby burrows. Over time, the tail that was dropped will regenerate. The regenerated tail will not have the attractive whirls the original tail had and will be bulbous in appearance.
The attributes of the skin coloration and texture of a leopard geckos body is crucial to its survival. The black patterns/spots that cover the body break up the leos outline against the background. This makes it increasingly difficult for a predator to spot a leo that is standing still. The bumps on the body, known as skin tubercles, give texture to the leopard gecko which also helps to break up its pattern against the background of the terrain.
As your gecko grows, you will notice that the skin will appear faded. This is a sign that your leopard gecko is preparing to shed. Each time your leo grows, the old skin will be shed and a beautiful new layer will be exposed. The shed skin is high in nutrients and is often eaten by the gecko as it is removed. This is completely normal behavior and shouldn't be an alarm for concern.
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Author: Richard Brooks