Geckos Caught Playing For The First Time Ever, Scientists Say — And It All Went Down In Space
Geckos aren’t exactly known for their playful nature. Like most reptiles, they’re not really known to play at all, which is why scientists believe this video from a 2013 space mission captures something very unusual.
It’s geckos… at play.
The space geckos were sent into orbit in the Bion-M No. 1 satellite, an unmanned Russian spacecraft loaded with animal experiments. Early in the mission, one of the 15 female thick-toed geckos on board lost her collar, which floated around the geckos’ pod once they were in orbit.
The geckos didn’t float, thanks to their sticky toe pads. And as The Guardian reports, they first tried to avoid the floating collar, perhaps out of fear.
Over time, however, the geckos started to play with it. The researchers wrote in the Journal of Ethology:
Four of the five geckos participated in play episodes, which were defined as one-time interactions with the collar, as well in a fuller form of play that included approaching the unmoving collar or observing its approach, manipulations with the collar and further tracking the collar. Manipulations with the collar could take the form of complicated play, such as pressing the snout against the edge of the collar rim, multiple episodes of pushing the collar with the snout, inserting the head into the collar, holding the collar by pressing the head to the container floor and tilting the head with the collar on the snout.
Unlike the “sex geckos” that were killed during a space mission last year, the playful geckos were safely returned to earth — and researchers have been analyzing information from the mission ever since, including the video that captured them at play.