A stump-toed gecko goes for a ride

A Stump-toed gecko on a truck windshield.

For a recent hike, I got up at 4:15 a.m. in order to reach my destination when the gates opened at 6 a.m. I was about 10 minutes into the hour-long drive when I noticed something on the windshield. At first I thought it was a leaf that had lodged itself in the windshield wiper. But then I recognized that it was a gecko.

This isn’t an unusual event. Many times, I’ve been driving in daylight and seen a gecko emerge from under the hood, looking a bit stunned, and flapping in the breeze. In these circumstances, if I were a good person, I’d stop the vehicle, get out, and usher the gecko to safety. The problem is that, for the gecko, safety is usually back under the hood. That means, when I drive off again, I’m likely to see the gecko back on the windshield five minutes later. An hour’s drive could take two.

Sometimes the gecko will head back under the hood or shelter behind a wing mirror. In this case, the gecko hung on where it was. When I stopped at junctions and once, for a longer period, at a traffic light, the gecko stayed put. It says something to the amazing stickability of geckos that I’ve never once seen one flying off into space.

When I reached my destination, it was still there. I got out and took this photo. I’m pretty sure it’s a stump-toed gecko, which is nocturnal. It could also be described as a stunned gecko.

When I returned from my hike, a few hours later, the gecko was gone. It might have jumped off or gone back under the hood. Either way, it did not reappear during the drive home.


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