Crested geckos are one of the most popular pet lizards amongst reptile enthusiasts – and deservingly so!
A crested gecko is a pet with many interesting idiosyncrasies – from shedding, to going days without food, to even sleeping with its eyes open – a crested gecko is a fun pet to have if you like reptiles and their lifestyles.
One such idiosyncrasy that makes crested geckos all the more interesting is their unwittingly amazing ability to stick to smooth surfaces like glass.
Whether you are a science student, a reptile enthusiast, or simply an observer with a curious mind, you may have had this one particular observation of seeing your pet crested gecko sticking very comfortably on the glass walls of its enclosure without slipping.
And it may have made you wonder how do crested geckos stick to the glass so comfortably? How is it not slipping?
The answer lies in the anatomy of your little pet crested gecko. Crested geckos are not the only species of geckos with this almost unreal ability to stick to glass – many of the geckos can do this.
And this ability of geckos to stick to smooth surfaces is so great that a lot of our day-to-day adhesives have been designed based on the biomimicry of gecko feet.
What Makes A Crested Gecko Stick To Glass Or Surface?
So, what is it that makes your crested gecko stick so comfortably to glass or other smooth surfaces with almost no difficulties? To put it simply, it is your pet’s specially designed feet.
The question of what makes a crested gecko, or any gecko for that matter, able to stick to surfaces, has been one that has piqued the interest of many scientists for many years.
There have been many theories and hypotheses – from suction cups to sticky secretions, and whatnot! And after years, the hypothesis was finally concluded.
Scientists finally managed not only to find what makes a crested gecko sticky on even smooth surfaces, they even managed to replicate that adhesion and produce commercial adhesives that a lot of us use in our daily lives today!
The secret behind the stickiness of your crested gecko’s feet is in something called the Van der Waal’s force. Let us dive into the science of Van der Waal’s forces just for a bit:
Now, what is Van der Waal’s force?
Simply put, Van der Waal’s force is the force of attraction that is weak on long distances but becomes stronger as the distance between the molecules reduces.
It works by attracting the neutral molecules to each other and keeping them bound.
How does it come into play for a crested gecko sticking on a glass wall of its enclosure?
This is where we zoom in on the feet of crested geckos. The feet of crested geckos have tiny, fibrous, hair-like structures called setae. They are much like microscopic hairs.
When these feet are placed on a wall, Van der Waal’s forces start acting between the setae and the molecules of the wall’s surface. This allows the crested gecko to comfortably stick on the smooth surface without any difficulty.
Do Crested Geckos Have Suction Cups?
One of the most sought-after hypotheses about the adhesive capabilities of geckos, in general, has been of suction cups.
But, in reality, a crested gecko does not have suction cups on its feet. Crested geckos do not use any of those means like suction cups, hooks, or sticky secretions to stick to smooth surfaces.
Instead, the adhesion is possible because of the microscopic hair on the feet of your pet crested gecko called setae.
The main function of setae is to prevent your crested gecko from slipping backward. That’s why it climbs on a glass wall, it can move forward comfortably without slipping backward.
Is It Possible For A Crested Gecko To Stop Sticking To Glass?
As much as it is biologically possible for your crested gecko to easily stick to glass, there can be certain conditions when your crested gecko may stop sticking to the glass and not be able to climb on the glass walls of its enclosure.
If you observe this happening with your pet crested gecko, it is advisable to probe a little further to find out why your pet cannot stick to the walls of its enclosure.
It could be because of one of the following reasons:
Reason 1 – Contaminated Surface
If the surface of the glass wall is contaminated, it may make it difficult for the setae on the feet of your crested gecko to bond with the glass wall the way it normally should.
This can make it difficult for your crested gecko to stick to glass.
Sometimes, the glass may look clean to the human eye but it may still be contaminated. That is why it is recommended to use distilled or reverse osmosis water to clean the walls of the enclosure.
Reason 2 – Humidity
Too much or too little moisture, either in the environment or in the body of the crested gecko, can also cause problems in the bonding between the setae and the glass wall.
If the glass wall or the feet of the crested gecko is too dry, there will be little or no stickiness between the glass and the feet.
On the other hand, if either side has too much moisture, it can lead to slipping backward.
Reason 3 – Incomplete Shedding
If your pet crested gecko did not shed completely, it may have some residual shed skin stuck between its toes. This may make it difficult for your pet to stick to glass.
Incomplete shedding can lead to necrosis and must be dealt with immediately as if left unchecked, the residual shed can become fatal for crested geckos.
Reason 4 – Health Issues
If your pet crested gecko has been showing symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, unwillingness to play, and if it has chronic incomplete shedding, then your pet is sick and needs medical attention.
At this point, the best solution is to take your pet to the vet.
What To Do When Your Crested Gecko Doesn’t Stick To Glass Anymore?
If your crested gecko is not sticking to the glass of its enclosure, then you may need to figure out the root cause behind the same.
Depending upon why your crested gecko is unable to stick to glass, you may or may not have to interfere and resolve the issue.
If your crested gecko is unable to stick to glass due to a stuck-up shed, then the first and foremost thing to do is to remove the shed skin from between its toes.
If this isn’t the first time your pet crested gecko experienced trouble shedding completely, then it is recommended that you take your pet to the vet.
This should especially be done if your pet crested gecko seems to be lethargic and experiences weakness, loss of appetite, or other such symptoms of bad health.
If your crested gecko is completely healthy, then you may need to recheck the humidity maintenance of the enclosure, as too much or too less moisture can cause problems with sticking to the glass.
Crested geckos, like most species of geckos, have this uncanny, amazing capability to stick to even smooth surfaces like glass with little to no difficulties.
This adhesive ability of crested geckos has been so interesting that many scientists made many hypotheses about how a gecko must be sticking so efficiently to a surface.
In fact, biomimicry also made it possible for inventors and innovators to make daily-use adhesive products by mimicking the adhesion process of geckos.
The secret behind the stickiness of your crested gecko lies in its feet. The microscopic hairs called setae that cover the feet of the crested gecko enable it to stick to glass by employing Van der Waal’s forces.
If your crested gecko has a problem sticking to the glass walls of its enclosure, it may help to observe and figure out the root cause behind it – as sometimes, it could be an indication that your pet is facing some health issues that need medical attention.