PacSci Perspectives

Lydia Is Sooooo Cute!

by | Mar 2, 2010

It seems there’s always something new and exciting happening within our Life Sciences Department. Naked mole-rats are having babies, new butterflies are arriving every week, tide pool pumps break. It all comes with the territory when you work with so many different types of animals. But there are a few animals that may get overlooked, perhaps because they are so reliable and steadfast. They don’t really make any “news” to speak of, but they are certainly worthy of a second look.

Meet Lydia. In our opinion, which is totally objective and scientific, Lydia is the cutest leopard gecko in the whole wide world. Look at her picture and you may think she’s pretty, or just average. But spend a few minutes watching her attempt to hunt down the odd cricket and we dare you not to fall in love with this lizard. Every time she catches a cricket she chomps down on it, swallows, and then closes her eyes and licks her lips. I don’t advocate that anyone anthropomorphize animals, but it’s hard not to imagine her saying, “Yum!”

Lydia The Leopard Gecko

The Life Sciences Department inherited Lydia about eight years ago. Before she lived in the reptile exhibit, she lived in Pacific Science Center’s Education offices. She was the pet of a former staff person, and lived in a small cage on a desk. We still don’t know how old Lydia is, but she was full-grown when we received her.

Leopard geckos are native to the deserts of south central Asia, mainly found in Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of India and Iran. Most of their distinguishing characteristics are adaptations to life in the desert. Unlike most geckos, leopard geckos possess eyelids. This allows them to close their eyes and block out dusty desert particulate. It also means they look really cute when they sleep. Leopard geckos also have a noticeably fat tail. This is where they store all of their extra body fat. When food becomes scarce, a frequent occurrence in the desert, leopard geckos are able to metabolize the fatty tissue from their tail. Even as pets, a fat tail is a sign of a healthy leopard gecko.

Lydia The Leopard Gecko

Lydia has a nice fat tail, which is also really cute. When our veterinarian paid us a house call a few weeks ago, he raved about the size or her tail and her vivid coloring. He also warned us about a dangerous disease that is currently infecting large portions of leopard geckos within the pet trade. Cryptosporidiosis, or “crypto” is highly infectious and often fatal to geckos. In fact, our vet reported that most leopard geckos sold in pet stores within the last five years have likely been exposed to this disease. Luckily Lydia is a bit older, and has never exhibited any signs of infection or poor health. Our vet predicts a long and healthy lifespan for this lovable leopard gecko.

Lydia The Leopard Gecko

So the next time you’re at Pacific Science Center, we invite you to go past the tide pool, look beyond the boa constrictors, and check out our understated, but still adorable lizard. She is sooooo cute!