Crested geckos have the ability to stick to glass – in fact, some of them love spending so much time on the glass walls of their enclosures that they even fall asleep while sticking on the glass!
The feet of the crested gecko allow it to have this uncanny and cool ability to stick on glass without slipping.
However, sometimes, you will notice that your crested gecko is slipping off the glass wall time and again – it is not able to stick to the glass as it normally would.
It is only natural for you to react by getting worried – but hold that thought of panicking and rushing to the vet immediately, and read along as this article navigates through the reasons behind your crested gecko’s sudden inability to stick to the glass walls.
Overview Of Crested Gecko Feet
The feet of a crested gecko has a very unique form and structure.
The feet have structures called setae (the singular being seta) which are basically microscopic hairs that increase the Van Der Waals forces between the feet and the wall.
The Van Der Waals forces are basically the forces that allow for the feet to stick to a wall – this force is a force of attraction that depends on the distance between the interacting atoms.
The greater the value of Van Der Waals forces between the feet of a crested gecko and a wall, the greater will be the capability of the crested gecko to stick firmly to the wall.
A gecko’s leg will have millions of setae, or hairy structures, covering the underside. These 5 mm long setae are even finer than human hair.
On every seta, there are many little structures called spatula. Geckos use their spatulas to make contact with the surface of objects, creating Van der Waals force.
More spatulas suggest a larger surface. In order to sustain the creature’s entire body, increased contact with the surface generates more Van der Waals force.
Van der Waals force allows a seta to support up to 20 mg in weight. A gecko can support roughly 300 pounds in total with the aid of millions of setae.
4 Reasons Why Your Gecko Is Not Sticking To The Glass
Given all the science behind the feet of a crested gecko, it may come as a cause of both surprise and concern when you see your pet crested gecko slipping from a glass wall.
There are 4 reasons why your crested gecko may not be able to stick to the glass as it usually would:
Reason 1 – Shedding or Stuck Shed May Make Your Crested Gecko Slip
If your crested gecko is suddenly unable to stick to the glass wall, chances are it may be shedding or it may have some shed stuck near its feet that is causing it to slip off the glass wall and lose its grip.
Now, when it comes to shedding, your crested gecko will automatically refuse from climbing onto the glass walls to avoid slipping off and getting injured.
But if you don’t see any shedding happening and yet your crested gecko is unable to climb or stay upon a glass wall with proper grip, you should immediately check for any stuck shed in its toe gaps and under its feet.
If there is any stuck shed, you need to remove it immediately for two urgent reasons:
- Your crested gecko may not even realize that it has dry shed skin stuck in its feet. This means it will keep on trying to stick onto the glass wall – this increases the risk of falling and getting injured in your crested gecko.
- Stuck shed skin leads to constriction of blood flow in the troubled regions. When this happens, it can cause gangrene development or other infections in your crested gecko’s body.
Reason 2 – Blocked Setae In The Crested Gecko’s Feet
Setae, as mentioned above, are microscopic hairy structures on the underside of the feet of a crested gecko.
Due to the hair-like structure, setae are bound to get blocked every now and then. This blockage may sometimes cause your crested gecko to not be able to stick onto the glass walls of its enclosure.
Any kind of dirt, food remains, substrate or supplement powders may accumulate in the fluffy carpeted setae on the underside of the feet of a crested gecko.
The tricky part here is that it may be difficult to notice the blocked setae in the feet of your crested gecko.
But the good thing here is that if you don’t see any swelling or wounds on the underside of the feet of your pet crested gecko, you simply need to let nature run its course.
What this means is that the feet of the crested gecko have a self-cleaning mechanism and by walking around on the grass or trying, again and again, to climb on the glass wall, your crested gecko will be able to clean the setae off on its own without any need for you to intervene.
Reason 3 – Imbalance Of Humidity
It is again very tricky to completely predict when your crested gecko will be able to stick to the glass wall firmly.
The problem here is the existence of two variables that depend on the humidity of the enclosure – one is the hydration level of the setae on the underside of the feet of a crested gecko, and another is the presence or absence of water droplets on the glass walls of the enclosure.
If the humidity of the enclosure is too low, then the setae on the underside of the crested gecko’s feet will get dehydrated and will thereby be unable to stick to the glass wall properly.
On the other hand, if the humidity levels are too high, it can lead to an accumulation of water droplets on the glass walls, which will make them too slippery themselves for a crested gecko to even climb on them – let alone stick to it.
Reason 4 – Wounds Or Sickness May Cause Your Crested Gecko To Slip
If your crested gecko has any kind of infection, swelling, or injury near or on its toes, then naturally, it will not be able to climb up a glass wall or stick to it.
What is riskier is if your pet crested gecko keeps trying to climb up the glass wall despite the wound and the slipping.
It will not only risk more injuries due to slipping accidents but also it will risk infecting the existing wound and maybe even permanently damaging its ability to stick to glass walls.
Other than wounds, if your crested gecko is sick, it may still be unable to climb up the glass walls of its enclosure. Sometimes, this may even be the sign of an onset of the metabolic bone disorder.
What is of importance here is to observe any accompanying symptoms to figure out if your crested gecko is facing a deeper health-related issue that is leading to the problem of slipping off the glass walls.
What Type Of Force Allows Geckos To Climb Glass?
The force that allows a crested gecko to climb glass is called the Van der Waals force. It is a force of attraction that depends on the distance between interacting atoms.
When two atoms come into each other’s vicinity, they repel each other.
As the atoms get closer and close to each other, the force of repulsion keeps getting stronger – until a particular threshold.
Once that threshold is crossed, the two atoms get attracted to each other and stick together in a very strong manner.
This force of attraction that occurs after the threshold is crossed is called the Van der Waals force.
This force allows the microscopic hairy structures on the feet of the crested gecko, called setae, to stick in a very strong way to the glass walls of its enclosure.
Can A Crested Gecko Lose The Ability To Stick To Surfaces
Yes, a crested gecko can lose the ability to stick to surfaces – either temporarily or permanently depending upon the root cause that leads to this situation.
Several causes can lead to a crested gecko losing the ability to stick to surfaces:
- Blocked or contaminated setae
- Injury or swelling in the toes or underside of the feet
- Slippery surface
- Dehydrated setae
- Shedding or stuck shed
3 Ways To Make Your Gecko’s Feet Sticky Again
Depending upon the root cause that leads to the situation of your crested gecko being unable to stick to the glass walls, there are different ways in which you can make your crested gecko’s feet sticky again.
Way 1 – Clean the glass surface and readjust the humidity levels
Ensure that the surface of the glass walls is clean so that nothing blocks the setae of the crested gecko.
Secondly, readjust the humidity levels and bring them to the ambient range required by crested geckos.
This will prevent the setae from getting dehydrated and it will ensure that there are no droplets of condensation on the walls of the enclosure.
Way 2 – Let it be for a while.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to not do anything at all! This solution works when your crested gecko’s feet have blocked setae.
There is nothing you can do about it other than letting the problem solve itself naturally. Crested geckos have their own self-cleaning mechanisms through which they clear the blocked setae.
Way 3 – The Last Resort: Consult A Vet
If the problem does not solve itself naturally in a couple of days, or if you observe any other symptoms of distress or illness.
Then you should consult a vet to get to the root of the problem and give your crested gecko the treatment it requires on time.
Crested geckos have a very interesting structure of feet with the setae, or the microscopic hairy structures, that increase the surface area for Van der Waals force – a force of attraction that depends on distance and allows crested geckos to be able to stick to materials like glass with a very strong grip.
These sticky feet of the crested gecko allow it to climb the glass walls of its enclosure. Sometimes, for several reasons, a crested gecko may either temporarily or permanently lose its ability to stick to glass.
Depending upon the nature of the problem, you may or may not be able to help your crested gecko regain the stickiness of its feet.