Do Geckos Stick to Your Skin?
Geckos are small, colorful lizards known for their ability to climb seemingly vertical surfaces. But is it true that these creatures can stick to human skin?
Can Geckos Climb on Human Skin?
The short answer is no. Geckos can’t stick to skin the same way that they stick to walls and other surfaces. Unfortunately, this myth about geckos is just that – a myth.
Geckos use a combination of three elements to cling to almost any surface:
- Lamellae: These are the microscopic, hairlike structures on the undersides of their feet.
- Setae: These are even smaller—sometimes single-celled—hairs which branch out from the lamellae and project into the air.
- Adhesion forces: Specifically, hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces.
These allow them to climb almost any surface, including the ceiling, and defy gravity in the process. The combination of these three elements absorbs airborne particles, causing the gecko’s toes to stick to a surface.
Does the Gecko’s Sticky Power Work on Human Skin?
No. Though the toes of a gecko are incrediblysticky, human skin does not provide a sticking surface for these lizards. Human skin is too thick, and is composed of a different material from the surfaces geckos normally cling to.
The combination of lamellae, setae, and adhesion forces works in tandem to chemically attach a gecko to a smooth surface like glass, but it simply won’t work on human skin.
What to Do if a Gecko Tries to Climb You
Though geckos are unable to cling onto or stick to skin, they may still try to crawl up your arm or leg. If this happens, resist the urge to brush the gecko off and instead, carefully, cup it in your hands until you can safely place it elsewhere.
In short, while geckos may be seen to be sticking to the walls or ceilings of your home, they cannot stick to human skin. If you find a gecko in your home, you can relax and take a few necessary precautions.