African Fat-tailed Gecko
The African Fat-tailed Gecko is a species of lizard abundantly spread throughout the western regions of the continent of Africa. Often confused with its close cousin, the Leopard Gecko, this nocturnal creature reptile is widespread in the pet trade. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger and ornamental in appearance.
African Fat-tailed Gecko Scientific Classification
Table Of Content
African Fat-tailed Gecko
Size: The length (head to tail) is typically between 7 and 9 inches (18–23 cm).
Weight: 40-90 gram (average 50 g), with the female being relatively lighter.
Skin: Usually tan to beige and brown stripes with a pale pink or off-white underbelly; a thin white line on the dorsal side, from the head to the tail, is often seen.
Eyes: Small black eyes that are roundish triangular or almond-shaped.
Tail: Wide, thick tail with vertical segments that gradually thins towards the tip.
In captivity, the African Fat-tailed Gecko will live anything between 10 and 25 years (average 15 years). The longevity of the wild specimens is not known.
The gecko is found only in West Africa, from Senegal to Cameroon. No regional subspecies of this reptile has yet been classified.
Natural Habitat: Where do African Fat-tailed Geckos Live
African Fat-tailed Geckos prefer dry and arid regions; however, they would usually spend their time in dark and humid places.
Fat-Tailed Geckos are relatively calmer and docile compared to other gecko species including the Leopard Gecko. They are primarily nocturnal, entirely terrestrial, and will move out in search of food only after sundown. During daytime, they would usually spend lazy hours sleeping or hiding inside crevices or under barks.
In general, they move slowly, but when threatened, they will run away quickly, but only for a short distance. They vocalize and communicate with other members by clicking their tongue on the roof of their mouth.
These reptiles are territorial, and not at all social. They prefer spending time alone, other than during mating. The males are often seen as belligerently involved with other males. When they are active, they will curl their tail upwards; while when excited, like during mating, courtship, hunting or display territorial aggression, they would writhe and wriggle the tail in a zigzag manner.
Reproduction & Life Cycle
Interestingly, among the Fat-tailed Geckos, competition for reproduction (ability to acquire mates) is present only in the males, but never among the females. Their breeding season is for around five months each year. Their mating system is polygynandrous (both the genders have multiple mating partners during breeding season).
The females can lay eggs up to five clutches a year, though there are many instances of females laying fewer. After the gestation period is over, the baby or young geckos hatch out of their eggs, weighing only around 4 grams. Both the juvenile males and females grow at equal rates, and eventually, reach the age of sexual maturity between the age of 8 and 11 months.
- Like many other gecko species, this gecko has the ability to shed off its tail when attacked or threatened.
- A lost tail is replaced by a more rounded one that resembles the lizard’s head so as to confuse the predators.
- When in need of food, the gecko would use the fat stored in its tail a reserve for energy and can spend days without food.
- Their skin color is a perfect combination of colors to help them camouflage inside the dense forest amidst dry leaves and woods.
The natural enemies of these geckos are snakes, larger reptiles (like monitors, chameleons, etc.), and various other birds and mammals.
Care Sheet: Fat-Tailed Geckos as Pets
Minimum of 10-gallon capacity, but larger the better (up to 20 gallons). One with a screen cover is appropriate. Make sure there is enough room for food and water dishes, etc.
Temperature & Lighting:
A minimum of 12 hours of incandescent light is necessary to recreate daylight, while it also serves as a source of heat. Along with it, an under-cage heat pad can also be used for keeping the inside night temperature between 75° and 90°F and night temperature between 85°-90°F.
Attach a mister to maintain moisture and humidity especially during shedding. A bowl of fresh water should also be provided.
These lizards do not climb; however, you should also provide sites for hiding and burrowing. Place vines, small plants, and caves to hide.
What do Fat-tailed Geckos Eat
Fat-tailed Geckos are insectivorous. Feed them with healthy and gut-loaded crickets, roaches, mealworms, king mealworms, and silkworms, coated with supplements of vitamin/mineral from time to time. Also, mealworms fortified with calcium may be offered once every four weeks. As a treat, you can also occasionally give a pinkie mouse to the adults and the egg-laying females.
Other Things to Remember:
- Care must be taken while handling them since their brittle tail might break off easily.
- They are terrestrial animals and are prone to hurt themselves if they fall from a considerable height. So, make sure, the floor of the aquarium is made of a soft base.
- A source of drinking water will serve two purposes – allow the lizard quench its thirst, as also, help in keeping the aquarium moist. Use a shallow/flat dish for the purpose.
- Two or more males must not be kept together in a single aquarium. However, both the sexes are comfortable with the females.
As described by the IUCN Red List, “This species is listed as Least Concern as it is widespread, thought to be common, and subject to only localized threats.”
- A few captive specimens can sometimes become so tame that they would even allow some handling.
- They do not have adhesive lamellae (sticky feet), and hence, cannot climb vertically.
- The gecko gets its name from its tail that looks slightly plump storing fat for future use.
- Recently, by means of selective breeding, the reptile traders have made it possible to produce interesting color variants including tangerine, blackout, and even aberrant fat-tails, patternless, and albino.