How to Take Care of a Fat-Tailed African Gecko

Overhead view of an African fat-tailed gecko.

Although leopard geckos and African fat-tailed geckos seem similar, they are separate species of gecko. Due to their increased availability and simplicity of maintenance, African fat-tailed geckos are almost as well-liked as leopard geckos. Knowing what these little lizards require to survive as pets is crucial if you're interested in them.

Species Overview

Common Name(s) African fat-tailed gecko

Scientific Name Hemitheconyx caudicinctus

Adult Size Usually 7-9 inches in length but may be as small as 4 inches or as large as 11 inches

Lifespan 15-20 years in captivity and the wild

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Behavior and Temperament

The placid, quiet, and non-venomous African fat-tailed geckos don't bite. These little geckos are perfect for novice reptile lovers because they don't need much training to be handled. Additionally, because they are nocturnal reptiles, they spend the daytime in hiding from the blazing heat and are active at night.

When threatened, African fat-tailed geckos have the capacity to lower their tail. This is the lizard's natural defensive strategy, but it may be quite upsetting to an unaware gecko owner. The tail will grow back, but it won't quite look the same. To assist prevent it from dropping its tail, try not to grasp it too firmly, startle it, or scare it. To prevent territorial disputes, never keep two males together. Finally, keep your hands away from your gecko if you notice it waving its tail erratically. This indicates that it is about to attack at anything or prey.

Size Information

When compared to other pet reptiles, these lizards are tiny. Male African fat-tailed geckos normally reach maximum lengths of roughly nine inches, including the tail, whilst females only reach lengths of around seven inches. However, certain African fat-tailed geckos can grow significantly bigger and can reach lengths of almost 12 inches. These geckos' uniqueness does not, however, lie in their length. An African fat-tailed gecko's tail, which may expand to be over an inch broad at its widest point, is what distinguishes it from other geckos with similar tails. These geckos got their name because of their big tail.


African fat-tailed geckos don't need much room. A 10 or 20 gallon aquarium with a mesh or screen top may accommodate one or two geckos without any problems. This kind of enclosure enables simple cleaning, secure mounting of heat lamps on the lid, and protection from other pets and kids who could harm the geckos. Whether it's a rock cave or a half log to sleep in the tank, be sure to supply different hides, both a dry hide and a humid hiding. On the hot end of the tank, temperatures should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, while on the cool side, they should be in the upper 70s or low 80s. For this species, typical humidity levels should range from 40 to 60 percent.

Specific Substrate Needs

Since African fat-tailed geckos are endemic to that continent, their natural habitats are arid ones. Since they can't climb or burrow, all you need to provide them with happiness is some simple substrate in addition to the hide. Popular options include paper towels, newspapers, butcher paper, etc., but if you prefer something with a more natural appearance, you may also use a range of reptile soils. A excellent alternative for a safe substrate that is simple to clean and cannot be digested by the lizard when it consumes its food is repticarpet. However, it is advised to stay away from sand to reduce the possibility of an impaction.

What Do African Fat-Tailed Geckos Eat and Drink?

Since these little geckos are mostly insectivores, crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and other readily available insects are common choices. Your African fat-tailed gecko should be fed these insects once they have been stomach loaded, and every other meal, you should dust them with a calcium supplement for reptiles. Consult your exotic veterinarian about your gecko's alternatives for a multivitamin, since this daily supplement supplies the vital vitamins and minerals. Adult African fat-tailed geckos should consume eight to nine insects every other day, or around two dozen crickets each week. Worms can be added to the aquarium and left in a small dish. Always have a little dish of fresh water nearby.

Common Health Problems

Similar to other reptiles, an African fat-tailed gecko might have a range of health issues if it isn't given the correct care. Geckos who are neglected frequently exhibit metabolic bone disease, dysecdysis (retained shed), starvation, and other problems. Additionally, injuries, impaction, intestinal parasites like cryptosporidium, and other conditions might happen and may call for veterinary care.

Upkeep Costs

The maintenance expenditures for African fat-tailed geckos are quite low. The biggest cost would be recurring feeding expenses, but even they will be low if you decide to cultivate your own mealworms or crickets. In addition to food, lightbulb replacements are necessary to keep the tank at the proper temperature and keep your gecko warm.

Pros and Cons of Keeping an African Fat-Tailed Gecko as a Pet

Because they are nocturnal, African fat-tailed geckos are most active at night, when most people are asleep. A diurnal animal can be a better choice if you're looking for a pet that will be active during the day. However, African fat tailed geckos are sturdy companions for novice reptile aficionados if being nocturnal doesn't bother you. They don't need to have fresh vegetables sliced every day, take up little room, and are typically calm. Alternately, because of their tiny size and propensity to drop their tail, they are delicate lizards that must be handled carefully and under adult supervision.

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Purchasing or Adopting Your African Fat-Tailed Gecko

The majority of individuals buy African fat-tailed geckos from breeders online or at reptile events and expos; but, some pet stores do carry them. The availability of these lizards will rise along with their appeal, but they could also start showing up at reptile rescues as they might survive longer than some people anticipate.

It is usually recommended to physically inspect the lizard before making a purchase if you are choosing an African fat-tailed gecko from a breeder. At a reptile exhibit or expo when various breeders are present with a variety of reptiles, your best likelihood of this occurring is typically present. By doing this, you may enquire about the gecko and confirm that it is healthy before making a purchase.


A male and female gecko may mate and lay eggs if you keep them together, but it doesn't guarantee the eggs will hatch. Eggs must be incubated under certain circumstances, and the mother must get additional attention to avoid calcium depletion and egg binding. Choose two female geckos rather than one male if you want to avoid the possibility of eggs and reduce the risk of diseases linked to eggs in a female gecko.

  • Does an African fat-tailed gecko make a good pet for kids?

    As long as the youngsters are aware of what to anticipate, African fat-tailed geckos may make wonderful pets. Kids who appreciate holding lizards gently and observing pets in tanks would enjoy these little geckos. They are also fantastic for children who have pet dander and hair allergies.

  • Is an African fat-tailed gecko hard to take care of?

    African fat-tailed geckos don't need to be handled, fed, or even cleaned on a regular basis. They are excellent for anyone who want a low-maintenance pet that is quiet and clean. The main care requirements are giving fresh water, feeding them a few times a week, and occasionally cleaning the tank on the spot.

  • How much does it cost to buy an African fat-tailed gecko?

    Depending on the African fat-tailed gecko's color mutation, prices will vary, but you can often expect to pay $50 to $75 for a standard morph. Rare designs can cost up to $1,000 and more exotic patterns can cost a few hundred dollars.


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