Gecko Care – anatomy
Lizards are vertebrate animals that similar to humans have a backbone, skull and ribs. Of the 3000 plus different species of lizard that have been discovered there are considerable differences in the shape, size and lifestyle of these lizards, there are however some common characteristics that bind them together. Of their external features they all have skin, a tongue, ears, eyes, limbs and a tail.
The skin acts as a protective coating that prevents the lizard from dehydrating. The formation of the scales varies from species to species, in some it allows the lizard to change color to adapt into the environment.
Their tongues are short and fat, although chameleons and a few others have a longer tongue. The tongue works in conjunction with the Jacobson’s organ and analyses and tastes whatever comes in contact with it.
Most lizards have a visible external ear hole or opening, sometimes it is covered up by a tympanum (ear drum).
Most lizards can blink and shut their eyes, this is dissimilar to snakes who have no moveable eyelids. There are a few burrowing lizards that have no eyes at all. There are also special adaptations between species such as the gecko, which has large eyes to aid their night vision, and chameleons that have independently moving eyes.
The limbs are specialized organs and the fingers and toes are adapted according to the species and lifestyle. An example is most geckos have adhesive pads on the tips of their digits to enable them to climb many surfaces such as trees, walls and ceilings.
The tail is also used differently depending on the species, it can be used for fighting, grasping, balancing and storage of fatty deposits to name a few. The tail can be shed as a means to defend from a predator, this is a good reason why you should never pick your lizard up by it’s tail.
The lizard is equipped with organs very similar to those of mammals. They have a skull that houses their brain, lungs to breathe air just like we do, a liver to remove toxins and the alimentary canal to process its food.
Lizards are totally reliant on the external living conditions. Unlike mammals they do not have the equipment to internally generate heat, they are therefore cold-blooded, also known as ectothermic.
Lizards thermo regulate (warm up and cool down) by moving around their habitat. When it is cool in the morning they will seek out the suns rays or the heat pad or spotlight in your vivarium so they can bask in the heat and recharge their batteries. Once they reach their optimum temperature they will then move on to hunt for food and patrol their territory. On hot days they will avoid overheating by resting in the shade, cooling off in water or seeking the coolness of their retreat or burrow.