Monday, May 5, 2008

The Gecko

The gecko is a remarkable animal. Scientists used to think that there was a mechanical aspect to the feet of a gecko, some kind of little hooks or something that would enable them to defy gravity like they do. It’s even weirder than that, though, it turns out to be molecular, they actually bond with whatever surface they are standing on.

I have had a lot of gecko-observation-time, and I can tell you, they are cute little critters. Very endearing, even. They eat bugs; after all, so they are our little helpmates, bugs are almost always just a pain in the neck. There’s a great dramatic tension, though, in an animal that is simultaneously so cute and so incredibly cold blooded and vicious.

When these things get wind of a nearby bug they go into predator overdrive. No leopard that ever stalked a gazelle was more blood-focused than a gecko that has the measure of a bug. No shark ever went after a fish with greater malice toward the game. The gecko, so small and so cute, positions himself out of the line of the insect’s sight and moves up by degrees, in frozen stillness, with only the raised tip of its tail waving gently back and forth to relieve the tension, just in the manner of cats in the backyard, focused on birds. The final assault, which is between five and ten times the length of the gecko, is accomplished in the blink of an eye. I have seen these things seize a bug much bigger than the gecko’s own head firmly in their jaws and jerk, jerk, twist and jerk, until the thing is swallowed whole. They see juvenile geckos as prey too, without discrimination.

There is a very small gecko in my apartment these days. He’s the first one I’ve seen in six months, so I don’t think he needs to worry about his big brothers, there are none around. This is his range. He shows up all over the place.

Which is not surprising, finding bugs in my apartment is a challenge, even for a gecko, I’ll wager. I have seen two roaches in my apartment, two roaches total in six months, and both of them were all the way dead, six legs up and wings down, x’s for eyes, call the priest. Same for the couple that I have seen in the halls, I think every six months or so they dip the entire building in dioxin, it’s pretty clear that bugs can’t live here. Except ants, that is, not many, and only the very small ones, but they’re here, they’re everywhere, after all.

So I suppose my little buddy is living now off the ant population. He’s so small, it’s enough for him so far. I wonder if he’ll stick around long enough to mature, I’ll be able to tell if I hear his mating call, the chik-chik-chik of the adult gecko. Good luck finding a wife around here, buddy. In fact, good luck in general. I wish you well.

No comments: