Monday, March 11, 2013

Are Geckos Really Slimy?

Have you ever wondered what a gecko feels like? Did you think they were bumpy? Scaly? Slimy?

I used to think so too. Until I touched one.

Yes, I petted a gecko.

Those of you who know me well are shocked, I'm sure. What is a girly-girl drama queen like me doing anywhere near a gecko? That same question passed through my mind as well.

The answer: I'm not quite sure.

These geckos, possibly known as House Geckos, inhabit the walls of my house. Usually they're scared of people and scamper away when you look at them too long. This one must have gotten brave as well as long. From its nose to the tip of its tail, it measured in at four and a half inches. He was a bit plump, so I figure he's been eating well. (I hate to think of what meals he might be finding behind the sheetrock in my house.) This little guy wore gorgeous brown speckles on his slightly bumpy, fleshy-pink skin. His tail sported stripes or rings.

Instead of being afraid of me, the gecko stayed put. He didn't move a single skinny toe. It was almost like he was daring me to touch him, seeing if I had the guts. At first I didn't. I just watched him sit there on my wall. Then I thought, what's the worst that could happen?

Well, he could jump on me.

As I reached up, rising on tiptoes, I told the little gecko not to jump on me, as if he could understand English along with his language of chirps. Expecting him to move when my flesh touched his, I was surprised when I touched his tail and he remained motionless. In fact, he didn't even blink! (I didn't find out until later that most geckos cannot blink.) So I petted his tail a couple more times.

Then I decided to just go for it. I pulled a chair over and climbed atop it. At this better vantage point I didn't have to stretch to reach him. With the tip of my finger I gently stroked the gecko's bump-covered back.

Weird.

It didn't feel at all like I expected.


The gecko's skin wasn't slimy. It wasn't scaly. On the contrary, it was silky smooth. It felt like soft leather or creamy butter. Surprised by the difference between my preconception and reality, I rubbed his back twice more before he skittered down the wall to hide behind the curtain in the window.

Touching this gecko and finding smooth, silky skin reminded me that things don't always follow our first judgments of them. Sometimes instead of being half empty, we discover the glass is truly half full. I wish I could say this little encounter has made me more adventurous when it comes to critters (and maybe it has), but I think it has definitely made me see things in a different light. Next time perhaps I won't be so quick to judge by outward appearances. Maybe I'll adjust my preconceived notions.

Do you think I'd now have the courage to pet an alligator?

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