A Comprehensive Profile of the African Fat-Tailed Gecko

A Comprehensive Profile of the African Fat-Tailed Gecko

African fat-tailed gecko

African Fat-Tailed geckos, natives of West Africa, are a popular choice among gecko keepers because they possess several other desirable traits in addition to their appearance. For instance, they are easy to care for and are good for beginners.

Let us find out more about them below.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Overview

Scientific Name: Hemitheconyx caudicinctus

Size: 7 to 9 inches

Weight: 45 to 75 grams

Life-Expectancy: 10 to 20 years

Color: Light base with dark stripes

Diet: Insectivores

Habitat: Dry and Savannah Area

Place of Origin: Western Africa

Temperature: 80 to 95 F

Humidity: 50 to 70 %

Substrate: Paper, compressed coconut bedding, or orchid bark

African Fat-Tailed Gecko History and Origin

African Fat-Tailed geckos are found in the dry plain and savannah regions of Western African deserts. The area includes all countries from Senegal to Nigeria. Since their discovery, they have been quite popular in the pet trade.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Appearance

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are almost similar in size to Leopard geckos. They also have fully functional eyelids like Leopard geckos—most gecko species like Crested geckos, Leachie gecko, Mourning gecko, Gold Dust Day gecko, and Mediterranean House gecko, etc. don’t have eyelids.

African Fat-Tailed gecko hatchlings are 7 to 9 inches in length. Furthermore, as their name suggests, they have a fat tail, which acts as a storehouse for fats and provides energy when geckos are not eating.

They have light brown to beige base, while their stripes and bands are usually dark brown.

Like Leopard gecko morphs, African Fat-Tailed geckos are also now available in different colors, including orange, black, and white, due to selective breeding.

Male vs. Female African Fat-Tailed Gecko

Due to sexual dimorphism, there are some differences between male and female African Fat-Tailed geckos.

Those are:

  1. Males are larger than females
  2. Males have swelling at the base
  3. Tails are fatter in males
  4. Heads are broader in males, and
  5. Males have obvious pores under their legs.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Temperament

The personality of African Fat-Tailed geckos can be summarized in the following points:

  1. Shy: African Fat-Tailed geckos are usually shy in the beginning, but they open up very soon.
  2. Docile and Responsive: They are quite calm and gentle geckos who spend most of their time hunting preys in the wild. Moreover, they do not bite unless they feel highly threatened. Though geckos have teeth, their bites rarely hurt as they are quite small and unable to even pierce through the skin.
  3. Vocal: They tend to produce squeaking sounds when they try to warn other geckos of any threat or when they intend to attract a female gecko.
  4. Nocturnal: Like most geckos, they are awake at night and asleep during the daytime and spend most of that time in hiding.
  5. Defensive: Male African Fat-Tailed geckos are defensive against other males, while the females are least defensive against other females. Hence, males should not be kept together in an enclosure, while females can be kept so. They also tend to drop tail when they feel threatened to distract the perceived predator. However, you don’t have to worry about your gecko’s tail loss as it will regrow it, though it won’t be the same as the original one.
  6. Brumating in Winters: They brumate during winters. Males especially need brumation before breeding.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Lifespan

African Fat-Tailed geckos can live up to 20 years when kept with great care. Some may even live well up to 25 years of age. However, in the wild, their lifespan ranges between 10 to 15 years. Illness and poor living conditions are usually the main factors behind the drop in their lifespan. Moreover, in the wild, geckos are vulnerable to predators up in the food chain, such as snakes, large reptiles, different mammals and birds, etc.

How to Take Care of African Fat-Tailed Gecko?

African Fat-Tailed geckos can be looked after by maintaining the environment of their enclosure and its hygiene. Let’s discuss both aspects in detail.

Maintaining Habitat

The enclosure can be maintained by ensuring the following provisions in it:

General Layout

While designing or purchasing the living box for your African Fat-Tailed gecko, you should look for the following must-haves in it:

  1. The box should be wooden in the material. Wood is a great insulator that provides a warm atmosphere suitable for geckos.
  2. The box should have glass windows to provide the vent and circulation of air when needed.
  3. The box must be at least 10 gallons in volume, provided you keep only one African-Leopard gecko in it. Aim for additional 5 gallons of volume for any new entrant.
  4. Because of their terrestrial nature, provide your African Fat-Tailed gecko with more ground space than height. Hence, rectangular boxes are recommended.
  5. Placing rough decorations within the box to aid the gecko shedding process.

Lightning

African Fat-Tailed geckos need around 10 to 12 hours of light every day. However, they are nocturnal and tend to sleep during the day. Consider making a dark hide within your pet’s enclosure to help him ward off light as per his own wishes. Providing ultraviolet (UV) light is not necessary. The best gecko lighting setup should simulate the day and night cycle.

Lightning Caution!

Never keep the basking light on throughout the night.

Heat and Humidity

African Fat-Tailed geckos are ectothermic, which means they need external heat sources to maintain their body temperature. Nevertheless, their daytime and nighttime temperature needs vary, the former being 72 to 88 Fahrenheit and the latter 70 to 72 Fahrenheit.

Keep one side of the box more heated than the other to maintain the temperature gradient, essential for body temperature regulation. Though your African Fat-Tailed gecko may not require a full-spectrum or a UV basking light, it is recommended to use a household incandescent lamp to simulate the day-night cycle and maintain the enclosure’s heat. Moreover, keep the basking spot at 90 Fahrenheit ad provide a hide.

Regarding humidity, you should maintain the enclosure humidity around 50% to 60%.

Substrate

The best substrate for African Fat-Tailed geckos is paper due to its ease of cleaning. However, it needs to be changed every two to three days. Compressed coconut bedding or orchid bark is also a good substrate choice.

Never use sand as substrate as it can cause impaction if ingested, though it might give a more natural look to the enclosure. You can get Clay Burrowing Substrate for your African Fat-Tailed gecko that is not only safe but also gives a natural look.

Keeping African Fat-Tailed Gecko Healthy

The health of African Fat-Tailed geckos can be maintained by keeping up the following:

Diet

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are insectivores and only eat insects. You should feed them a variety of insects to keep them fit and healthy. Their favorite insects are crickets and mealworms, but you can also feed them wax worms, butter worms, silkworms, and locusts.

The nutrients they absorb from their food are used for day-to-day bodily functions while the fat gets stored in their fat tail, making them go for several days in case they do not eat. Like Leopard geckos, African Fat-Tailed geckos can also go around 10 to 14 days without food.

It is, hence, recommended that you keep the diet of your African Fat-Tailed gecko to be 100 percent composed of insects. You should never feed geckos any fruits and veggies.

You can make sure that your pet extracts the maximum amount of benefits from its diet in the following ways:

  1. Provide your geckos with a variety of insects, but never wild-caught insects.
  2. Adding nutritional supplements containing calcium and vitamin D3 can keep several health complications at bay.
  3. Feeding your pet live prey is beneficial as it encourages them to be physically active by going after and catching them.
  4. In case of feeding live prey, remove the uneaten one from the enclosure within a few hours.
  5. African Fat-Tailed geckos should be fed on the following basis:
    1. From hatchling to four months of age: Around five small-sized insects every day.
    2. Adults: Around seven large-sized insects two to three times a week.
  6. The insect size should not be greater than the width of the forehead of your African Fat-Tailed gecko.

Hydration

Provide fresh and clean water all the time. This will keep your gecko hydrated. Moreover, it will also help maintain the humidity level in the gecko tank. If you think the humidity level is rising extremely, you can remove the water dish from your gecko’s tank.

Bathing

Bathing is not necessary for pet African Leopard geckos as they regularly clean themselves from the shedding process; however, if he suffers from retained skin during the gecko shedding process, soak him in a tub of warm water for about five minutes to help him get his stuck shed to come off.

Enclosure Cleaning

Cleaning of the enclosure should be carried out while keeping the following recommendations in mind:

  1. If the substrate is made of paper or related material, change it every two to three days.
  2. Carry out a full cleaning of the box every month using a gecko-friendly disinfectant. This will reduce the risk of bacterial spread and infections within the box.
  3. Never allow the building of wastes within the enclosure. It can lead to the diseases such as Cryptosporidiosis.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Breeding

Breeding African Fat-Tailed geckos is simple and easy. The ins and outs of breeding African Fat-Tailed geckos are discussed below.

Breeding Season

The African Fat-Tailed geckos breeding season lasts for five months, usually from November to March. The females should be offered calcium and vitamin-rich food during this period.

Laying Eggs

During the breeding season, females lay up to five clutches of eggs. Sometimes, only one egg is laid per clutch. You can expect your African Fat-Tailed gecko to lay eight times during a year if she is healthy and fit.

Young geckos are generally not as fertile as mature ones. Likewise, older geckos are also not fertile. Fertile eggs are hard, while infertile ones are soft. Eggs are about one to one and a half-inch in size.

Consider placing the eggs in a humid container so that they don’t dehydrate.

Incubation

Eggs usually hatch within six to 12 weeks, based on the temperature provided during the incubation period. Temperature also influences the gender of the hatchlings: higher temperatures lead to male hatchlings while the lower ones lead to female hatchlings.

Higher temperatures are also necessary for the survival of the baby. A delicate balance of humidity is also important.

Raising African Fat-Tailed Gecko Hatchlings

Raise each hatchling in a separate enclosure. During the first week, baby African Fat-Tailed geckos do not eat much; however, you should consider feeding them supplemented crickets, but not the large ones. You should also mist them several times a week.

Hatchlings weigh about four grams and take eleven to eight months to reach maturity. Their enclosure should have enough hiding spots to make them feel at home.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Health Issues

The health issues that can hurt African Fat-Tailed geckos are:

  1. Respiratory Infections: It may occur due to inappropriate humidity levels—high humidity levels.
  2. Mouth Rot: In this disease, the gecko mouth becomes inflamed.
  3. Cryptosporidiosis: Geckos lose weight, and their fat tail becomes thin.

The Signs of Healthy and Sick African Fat-Tailed Gecko

You can distinguish between a healthy and an unhealthy African Fat-Tailed gecko by looking for the following signs and symptoms:

HealthyUnhealthy
Normal movements
Interaction with humans as per their personality traits
Appropriate desire to eat and drink
Friendliness and docility
Excretion in strange color
Reduced or complete inactivity
Loss of appetite

African Fat-Tailed Gecko: Pros and Cons

Following are the benefits and drawbacks of keeping an African Fat-Tailed gecko as a pet.

    Pros

    They are very attractive and have multiple available morphs

    They are quite docile and friendly, hence great for beginners.

    They are widely available.

    Cons

    Expensive ones can have a price tag of up to $500.

    They are not okay with a cold environment.

    They are quite shy at a new place.

Conclusion

African Fat-Tailed geckos make a good choice for novice gecko enthusiasts who are looking for a unique but easy-to-care-for gecko. They are friendly and easy to breed. Not as many as Leopard gecko morphs, but they also have several interesting morphs available. Nevertheless, some of their personality characteristics and inability to withstand cold temperatures can be a concern.

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