Tuesday, November 30, 2010

......And Thereby Hangs A Tail

A few minutes ago, when the temp passed 85F in here, I decided it was time to swim to the lanai along my own river of sweat to cool off a bit.

Yes that's a lovely image, isn't it ! Sorry.

As I approached the 2 seater, I spotted a couple of little friends part way up one of the windows, using their suckered feet/paws to adhere to the glass.

Well I say friends but being British the geckos are really just recent acquaintances as we've not been formally introduced. I first spotted them a couple of days ago and although I can't be 100% sure they are the same ones, that's not important right now (a nod to the late Leslie Nielsen there).

On a nearby table was my little Nikon point-and-shoot camera so setting it to macro and ignoring the risk to life and limb, I approached one of the critters like a proper wildlife cameraman. I even used my best Attenborough voice-over to calm him/her down and it did seem to work, as he/she simply gave me a fixed stare and allowed me to get up close and personal.

Sadly for the both of us, the camera kept trying to focus on the largest area it saw which in this case, was the yard next door. Try as I might, I couldn't get it to focus on George (I like to name my creature subjects as it gives the memory a more personal touch) who was being really very patient indeed and only moved his/her head a little and seemed happy to remain in situ.

Actually as I've named him/her George, I'm going with 'him' from now on.

My patience ran out before his and I just took the photo.

But, dear reader, this story does not have an entirely happy ending. Startled by the flash, which I forgot to turn off, George scuttled off and without thinking, I grabbed his tail.

I suspect most of you are ahead of me now......

Yes George continued scuttling and I was left holding his tail !!

Before you reach for the smelling salts and report me to PETA, geckos have evolved a defence mechanism called autotomy, where they can 'drop' their tail in moments of stress or to simply get away from a predator. There is special connective tissue in the tail that creates a weak spot and so when the gecko is under threat/stress, the blood vessels to the tail will constrict, the weak spot breaks and the tail drops off - or in this case, remains wrigging between my fingers. A very odd experience I have to say.

I left the tail on the window ledge just in case George comes back for it (stop laughing at the back) but fear not, gentle gecko lovers everywhere, he WILL grow a new one.

I'll be keeping a look out for Stumpy, the gecko formally known as George, and will let you know if he appears again.

I not sure if they can drop the regrown tail so somehow I think that if he sees me before I see him, he'll be off before you can say.....'macro.'


Jennyta said...

Poor little creature. You've traumatised him for life, you great bully!

Daphne said...

Surely, if you grabbed the tail of every gecko you saw round the place, in just a few weeks you'd have enough for Gecko Tail Stew, and no geckos would have suffered any permanent damage. (Yes, I know this, says Silverback, but don't call me Shirley - - - ah, Leslie Nielsen, sadly missed).

Ruth said...

I'm not so sure Stumpy is male. I used to have a cat I'd named George as a kitten. When the vet told me George was a female kitten I didn't curse the mother cat's owners for having told me she was a he. I simply continued calling her George or Georgie. However, she had a strange hormonal problem that caused her sometimes to lose large patches of fur which the vet would treat with tablets - male hormone tablets. Gender can be a strange thing.

Debby said...

I swear to God if I go out there and there is a gecko tail on my window ledge....

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