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African Fat Tailed Gecko - Hemitheconyx caudicinctus

African Fat-Tailed Geckos come from Western Africa. Their native habitat is dry desert scrub-land and savannahs. They are nocturnal. The fat tailed gecko can be considered a good pet for the beginner. African Fat-Tailed geckos have the ability to "lose" their tails when attacked. The tail does grow back although it is noticeable.


Average Size - Fat tailed geckos average about 8 inches. Occasionally they may grow over 10 inches in length.

Life Span - Fat tailed geckos can live 10+ years

Diet - Fat tailed geckos are primarily insectivores Provide a variety of insects, including crickets, small mealworms, and waxworms. Remember to "gut load" crickets a day before offering to your pet. This can be done by feeding with any of the commercial insect foods available at pet shops. You should also dust crickets or other insects about twice each week with a calcium and vitamin supplement.

Feeding - Hatchlings should be fed pin-head crickets and small wax-worms. Adults should be fed larger crickets, wax-worms, and mealworms. Adult fat tailed will occasionally eat a pinkie mouse.

Housing - Fat tailed geckos can be caged in a ten gallon aquarium which is adequate for a pair; however, a 20 gallon tank would be more accommodating. African Fat-Tailed Geckos cannot climb smooth surfaces like day-geckos, so a screen cover is not needed but is well advised if you have other pets such as cats (to keep them out).

Substrate - African Fat Tailed Geckos will ingest particles of substrate to use as grit. The new calcium carbonate based sands sold by pet stores are ideal as they are digestible and provide additional calcium. Other choices can include playsand, newspaper, coconut fiber, and peat moss. Fat-tails like to burrow in slightly moist substrate to rehydrate, so you can use a combination of coconut fiber or peat moss.

Habitat - Rocks, plants - fake and live, and logs for basking and hiding boxes are preferred for the enclosure furniture.

Temperature - Temperatures for fat tailed geckos are from 90 degrees F for daytime and approximately 75 degrees F at night. Place a heat source, such as a heating pad eramic heater or incandescent bulb, on one side of the tank so your pet can seek temperatures desired. Avoid heat rocks - they can cause burns on your pet.

Lighting - Provide fluorescent light for 10 to 12 hours a day. A UV light is not necessary since these fat tailed geckos are nocturnal but it cannot hurt either.

Water - Make sure a shallow water dish is available inside the cage at all times. Lightly mist the enclosure daily. Make sure the substrate is never wet for long.

Normal Behavior and Interaction - African Fat-Tailed Geckos are relatively docile. They rarely attempt to bite, although they may do so if restrained. An african can be held - but be careful about their movement. Do not keep more than one male per cage as they will fight.

Description - African Fat-Tailed Geckos are patterned with bold dark bands on a pale tan or pale brown background. Wild specimens sometimes exhibit a wide white stripe down the length of the back.
Males are larger than females, and can be distinguished by the presence a V-shaped row of pre-anal pores and a pair of prominent hemipene bulges.

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid 
  • Substrate 
  • Fluorescent light 
  • Book about geckos  
  • hide box
  • Non-toxic plants, branches, log, and cork bark 
  • Shallow water and food dishes 
  • Thermometer, humidity gauge 
  • Vitamin/mineral supplement
Habitat Maintenance Change water daily and remove all droppings. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a week: set gecko aside in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate

Grooming and Hygiene Fat tailed geckos will regularly shed their skin; so ensure the enclosure has enough humidity to facilitate shedding. Provide a small bowl with damp moss for the fat tailed gecko to walk through. This will help facilitate proper shedding between the toes. Always wash your hands before and after touching your gecko or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases.

Signs of a Healthy Pet: 

  • Consistent behavior 
  • Healthy skin 
  • Clear eyes 
  • Eats regularly 
  • Clear nose and vent
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Body and tail are rounded and full  
  • Mucus in mouth or nose 
  • Lethargic 
  • Swelling 
  • Labored breathing 
  • Paralysis of limbs or tail 
  • Abnormal feces 
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin 
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:25 EST
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