At Umkhumbi lodge we are proud to say that each room has a resident Velvet gecko (they stay outside, don’t worry!) The Velvet gecko is on the IUCN list due to it’s rarity. One species of the Velvet gecko is so rare that it was only recently rediscovered!
They are larger than the non-indigenous Tropical house geckos that are so prominent here in South Africa. They have been known to grow up to 120mm in length (and that is just the body, add the tail on as well and you have a fairly substantial portion of gecko!).
So, I hear you ask, if they are so big; How on Earth do they run up the walls? How do they not fall off the ceiling?
Well, each toe is covered with large, wide pads. These pads are covered with tiny little hairs, shorter than 2 diameters of a human hair(1) and much thinner, it is these hairs that allow geckos to run up even the smoothest surface. Each of these hairs is subject to a weak molecular attraction – Van Der Waals theory – which gives geckos the ability to be able to hang from a wall by just one fingertip. This adhesive effect is very strong and the tiny hairs only become detached by changing their angle (almost like velcro).
For more information about the discovery, read this and this from the Lewis & Clark College, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.