How Do the Suction Cups On Lizards’ Feet Work When They Climb Walls and Ceilings?

The lizards that climb walls and ceilings don’t tend to fall off. But it’s not because they have great suction, as a matter of fact, they’re not really using suction at all.

Here’s how the feet work: on the bottom are dozens and dozens of tiny grooves, which you can see if you’ve ever looked closely at a lizard in a glass-walled terrarium.

On each of those little grooves you can see, there are dozens more that aren’t visible to the naked eye. And on each of those dozens of grooves are hundreds, if not thousands, of hairlike bumps.

Now, if you take a microscopic look at even the smoothest of surfaces, you’ll see it covered with microscopic pits, bumps, and grooves. To a lizard, glass, tile, concrete, and sheet rock all offer plenty to hang onto.

Its pads will grab and hang on, even if the lizard is scared, tired, sick, or dying. Sometimes it takes hours for a dead lizard to drop, because the feet are still clinging onto those tiny imperfections.

While this is rare because most wall-climbing lizards tend to go hide somewhere level when they’re sick, you still might want to keep a wary eye for falling lizards overhead.

Snake a Leg There, Buckaroo

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