African Fat-Tailed Gecko Care

geckoHow to Care for an African Fat-Tailed Gecko

The Fat-Tailed Gecko is a tropical lizard so they require a habitat that has semi-moist as well as dry areas. Shed boxes satisfy their need for semi-moist areas as well as their desire to hide. Shed boxes should be furnished with sphagnum moss to hold the humidity and allow for proper shedding. Regular misting of the shed boxes and sometimes of the entire environment may be needed to maintain appropriate humidity levels. They need at least a 20 gallon aquarium and a temperature gradient that ranges from 80F at the cool end to 95F at the hot end. Heat should be provided using a ceramic heater or incandescent light. Undertank heaters can help to raise the temperature of the enclosure but should be carefully monitored to ensure that the ground does not get too hot. They should also have UVB rays for 10-12 hours per day, though they are nocturnal so UVB lighting in the lower range is preferred to avoid very bright light. Their UVB bulb should be changed every 6 months. The best substrate is either newspaper/paper towels or reptile carpet. Other substrates such as bark, mulch or sand are often used though they can be problematic as geckos are sometimes known to eat their substrate. Their tank should be cleaned weekly with a 3% bleach solution and then rinsed thoroughly with water. All old substrate should be replaced with new substrate. They do best when kept alone.

Adult Fat-Tailed geckos should be fed insects such as crickets, meal worms or wax worms. They should have access to fresh water every day and adults require live insects every other day. A powdered calcium and multivitamin supplement should be dusted on their insects 1-2 times weekly. Supplementation with a commercial gecko food is a good idea if our gecko will eat it. Juveniles should be fed every day with a supplement dusted on their insects at least three times weekly.

 Some common illnesses in Fat-Tailed Geckos are gastrointestinal disease and diarrhea which can be caused by a bacterial infection or intestinal parasite. They can also develop metabolic bone disease or vitamin deficiencies characterized by lethargy, swollen limbs or bone deformities due to a lack of calcium provided in the diet or an inability to absorb calcium from the diet. Respiratory disease resulting in labored breathing or mucous coming from the nose or mouth can also arise as a result of a habitat that is too cold or too wet. Geckos shed their skin on a regular basis and can develop difficulties shedding if their environment is too dry. Allowing them to soak in a container of warm water can often help with this problem. Geckos are delicate creatures so it is important to consult your veterinarian as soon as you notice any problems with your pet. Early diagnosis and treatment gives your pet the best change for recovery.

Please be prepared to take some time familiarizing yourself with your gecko’s needs before your new pet comes home. Additionally be prepared to monitor you gecko daily to ensure that their eyes are bright and clear, they is active and alert, their skin is clean and free from lacerations or sores, their body and tail are rounded and filled out and their habitat is at an appropriate temperature gradient and humidity level. They may also need daily misting and daily UVB lighting. They require feeding live insects every other day and a tank cleaning once a week with occasional soaks if they have trouble shedding.

New Fat-Tailed Gecko Checklist

  • 20 gallon tank
  • Secure lid with clamps
  • Substrate
  • Shed box
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Objects to hide in and climb on (branches, boxes, etc.)
  • Live insects
  • Cricket keeper and cricket food (optional)
  • Commercial gecko food
  • Vitamin supplement
  • Calcium supplement
  • Food dish
  • Water dish
  • Heat light
  • Heat fixture
  • Undertank heater (if needed)
  • UVB light
  • UVB fixture
  • 2 Thermometers
  • Humidity gauge
  • Spray bottle
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