Study points to hundreds of hairs called setae that give Gekko gecko its grip.
Scientists with the University of Akron just published a study in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface that details exactly how Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) clean their feet to maintain their stickiness.
Tokay geckos are known to walk on walls, glass, and even ceilings. Dr. Shihao Hu and his fellow scientists determined that this capability is due in large part to the adhesive-like toe pads on their feet that help them cling to most any surface. Those feet are outfitted with microscopic foot hairs called setae that give the feet the grip the gecko needs to cling to surfaces. Each hair is then split into hundreds of nano branches, extending the surface area in which the feet can get a grip. They found that the geckos hyper extend their toes in a scrolling motion in an effort to keep their feet free from debris.
The scientists put "shoes" on the geckos to prevent them from hyper extending their toes and found that the cleaning rate was reduced by 50 percent. Dr. Hu, now at Case Western Reserve University is now using the research he gleaned from the University of Akron study to develop self cleaning adhesives based on his observations of the Tokay gecko.
The Tokay gecko grows to 6 to 9 inches and inhabits forest trees and human dwellings in the wild. It is native to Southeast Asia and is a nocturnal lizard. Very popular in the pet trade, the tokay gecko is one of the most popular gecko species with beginning hobbyists. They are under threat in their home ranges due to bogus claims that the lizard can cure HIV, cancer, and other ailments.