People have opposite feelings about geckos: they either consider them cute or revolting.
What about me? Well, one summer evening I was sitting with my family in a veranda, under a very beautiful wisteria pergola. While I was chatting, I felt something falling on my right shoulder: I turned my head and I saw a dark green spot. It didn’t take much time to understand a gecko fell from the branches above right on me… I took that adventurous little animal from its tail and I threw it away. I guess I was more surprised than disgusted.
But this post is not about me.
I want to show you this little warrior who fearlessly attacked a snake which was strangling his friend. Look how carefully the gecko studies the situation and then attacks the other reptile with courage!
Did our brave little friend succeed to save his friend?
Discover it watching the video!
This gecko is very scared, you can tell. He proceeds very slowly, because he knows that the snake could change its mind, change its pray and attack him.
So, what makes this gecko act against his own safety and advantage? The answer is: empathy.
Empathy is the capacity to recognize the emotions experienced by another being, feeling an appropriate emotion to what the other one is experiencing and, as possible, doing something appropriate.
Only through empathy we can recognize the other one as a being who can suffer, just like me, a being who wants to live, just like me, who wants to be happy, just like me and you and you all. This is the basis of community and it has been observed in many animals, especially primates.
Jeffrey M. Masson tells the story about an elephant which tried to save a young rhinoceros stuck in the mud despite the mother rhino was charging thinking that the elephant wanted to injure the puppy. The only reason that elephant endured the danger and the pain was that it felt the sorrow of the little rhino.
If I were the gecko victim of that attack, I would be very grateful to have such a friend! I hope you enjoyed!
J. J. Masson (1996). When elephants weep. The emotional lives of animals. Unabridged.