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What Is a Flying Gecko?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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A flying gecko is a species of gecko that originated from Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It belongs to the genus Ptychozoon and six species of this gecko have been discovered, such as the Ptychozoon kuhli and the Ptychozoon lionotum. This reptile is also known as the parachute gecko.

In the most literal sense, the flying gecko does not actually fly; its stance in the air just makes it seem that way. This gecko has extra flaps of skin tucked underneath on its side, legs, feet, and even on the sides of its cheeks and tails. Its feet are also wider and larger, with webs of skin connecting the toes with each other. When the gecko bounds from one tree to another, the air underneath the reptile fills the skin flaps, which billow out, just like when a parachute is filled with air. This enables the gecko to glide through the air, instead of flying, when transferring from tree to tree.

Aside from the skin flaps, the body of the flying gecko is generally flatter, making for an easier gliding. Just like all geckos, its toes have bristles underneath called “setae,” which works similarly to a Velcro®, helping the reptile land and cling safely on the tree. The setae also accounts for why geckos are hard to remove when they cling to surfaces or even a person.

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The flying gecko is not only adept at gliding, but also an expert in hiding and escaping. For one, its skin color that ranges from gray, green, to brown is an excellent camouflage, and its random patterns make it easier to blend with tree trunks, leaves, and rocks. It can also press itself on trees, owing to its flat body, so it can appear like moss or lichens growing on the trunk. They are also very fast and elusive.

Rainforests in Southeast Asia are home to many flying geckos. These reptiles usually prefer warmer temperatures and benefit from the abundance of trees, from which their diet of insects, worms, and sometimes fruits come. Unfortunately, the flying gecko may be a potential host to some parasites like mites, as its skin flaps are excellent hiding places.

Prospective pet owners should take great care in mimicking the natural habitat so that the flying gecko can live longer. Not only should the cage or aquarium have plenty of vegetation, the cage itself should be tall enough for the gecko to enjoy gliding. Experts also recommend supplementing the reptile with calcium by dusting the powdered mineral on the insects it is fed with.

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