Fat-Tailed Leopard Gecko Care Guide & Tips

fat-tailed leopard gecko

The African fat-tailed gecko, also known as the Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, is a nocturnal ground-dwelling lizard native to desert areas in West Africa. This species has become increasingly popular as a pet due to its docile nature and ability to thrive in captivity. In this care guide, we will provide you with essential tips and advice on how to create a thriving habitat for your fat-tailed leopard gecko, including proper diet, terrarium setup, and overall care.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fat-Tailed Leopard Geckos are docile reptile pets that are native to West Africa.
  • They are gaining popularity among exotic pet reptile enthusiasts due to their easy care and handling.
  • Creating a suitable gecko terrarium is essential for their well-being.
  • Feeding them a proper diet consisting of live reptile food is crucial.
  • Providing a naturalistic gecko habitat with proper temperature and humidity levels is important for their overall health.

Introduction to the African Fat-Tailed Gecko

African fat-tailed geckos are ground-dwelling lizards that have a pale tan or brown background color with bold brown and tan stripes. They are one of the few gecko species that have eyelids.

These geckos are becoming increasingly popular as pets due to their docile dispositions and their ability to be handled.

They are widely available online through breeders who specialize in their captive breeding. Wild-caught geckos may be available, but it is recommended to purchase captive-bred animals for their health and well-being.

African fat-tailed gecko

Docile Disposition

The African fat-tailed gecko is known for its docile disposition, making it a popular choice for reptile enthusiasts and beginners alike. Unlike some other gecko species, the fat-tailed gecko is generally calm and tolerant of handling, allowing for enjoyable interactions with their owners.

Captive Breeding

Captive breeding has played a significant role in making African fat-tailed geckos more readily available as pets. Breeders have successfully reproduced these geckos in captivity, ensuring a healthy and genetically diverse population.

“Captive-bred African fat-tailed geckos are not only healthier but also more accustomed to human interaction, making them a better choice for pet owners.” – Reptile Enthusiast Magazine

By purchasing captive-bred geckos, you not only support responsible breeding practices but also increase the chances of having a well-adjusted and healthy pet.

African Fat-Tailed Geckos Wild-Caught Geckos
Benefit from strong breeding programs May have higher risk of health issues
More accustomed to human interaction May take longer to adjust to captivity
Varied color morphs available Limited color variations

As you can see from the comparison table, choosing a captive-bred African fat-tailed gecko offers numerous advantages. Not only do you receive a healthier and better-socialized pet, but you also have access to various color morphs to suit your preferences.

Availability and Size of African Fat-Tailed Geckos

African fat-tailed geckos, while not as widely available as leopard geckos, can be found through online breeders who specialize in their captive breeding. They are also occasionally available at local reptile expos. When looking to purchase a fat-tailed gecko, it is crucial to choose captive-bred animals to ensure their health and well-being.

Fat-tailed geckos have a similar body shape to leopard geckos, but they typically have a larger head and sturdier feet. Let’s take a closer look at their size characteristics:

Age Size Gender
Hatchlings Around 2 inches in length Undetermined
Adults Up to 9 inches in length Males are slightly larger with wider heads

With proper care, fat-tailed geckos can live for 15-20 years in captivity, providing reptile enthusiasts with long-term companionship and enjoyment.


“I recently purchased a captive-bred African fat-tailed gecko from a reputable online breeder. The process was smooth, and I received a healthy and vibrant gecko. These geckos have a unique charm and make wonderful pets. I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an exotic and docile lizard companion.”

– Sarah, Fat-Tailed Gecko Owner

Fat-Tailed Gecko Availability

Unlike some other reptiles, fat-tailed geckos do not require additional lighting since they are nocturnal. However, it is essential to provide proper heating options to ensure their overall well-being.

“Creating a suitable and controlled environment is vital for the health and happiness of your fat-tailed gecko.”

With the right caging and heating setup, you can create a comfortable and safe home for your pet. In the next section, we will discuss how to create the perfect habitat for your fat-tailed gecko by focusing on substrate, humidity, and shelter.

Creating the Ideal Gecko Habitat: Substrate, Humidity, and Shelter

When it comes to providing a comfortable and thriving habitat for African fat-tailed geckos, there are a few key factors to consider. In this section, we will discuss the importance of choosing the right substrate, creating suitable reptile shelters, maintaining proper humidity levels, and assisting with the shedding process.

Choosing the Right Substrate

The substrate you use in your gecko’s enclosure plays a crucial role in their overall health and well-being. It should be easy to clean and free from any potential risks of impaction. Here are a few recommended options:

  • Newspaper: This is a budget-friendly and readily available substrate choice. It allows for easy cleanup and doesn’t pose a threat if accidentally ingested by the geckos.
  • Paper Towel: Similar to newspaper, paper towels are absorbent and easy to replace. They provide a clean and hygienic environment for your geckos.
  • Commercial Reptile Bedding: There are various reptile bedding options available in pet stores. Look for substrates specifically designed for geckos, ensuring they are non-toxic and dust-free.

Remember to regularly clean and replace the substrate to maintain a clean and healthy habitat for your geckos.

Creating Suitable Reptile Shelters

Providing reptile shelters within the enclosure is essential for the well-being of your African fat-tailed geckos. These shelters serve as hiding spots and sleeping areas, helping your geckos feel secure and reduce stress. Consider using plastic containers or rock caves as shelters, ensuring they are of an appropriate size for your geckos.

It’s important to have at least one shelter that is kept moist. This helps facilitate the shedding process, as the humidity within the shelter aids in the gecko’s ability to shed its skin successfully. Utilize a reptile hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels within the habitat and adjust as necessary.

Maintaining Proper Humidity Levels

African fat-tailed geckos require slightly higher humidity levels compared to their leopard gecko counterparts. It’s crucial to maintain a suitable humidity range within the enclosure to support their health and shedding process. Misting the enclosure a few times a week helps increase the humidity. However, be careful not to saturate the habitat, as excessive moisture can lead to bacterial growth or respiratory problems for your geckos. Regularly monitor the humidity levels using a reptile hygrometer.

Assisting with the Shedding Process

Shedding is a natural process for African fat-tailed geckos as they grow. To assist with the shedding process, it’s recommended to provide a moist shelter within the enclosure. The increased humidity within the shelter helps loosen the old skin and aids in the shedding process. Ensure that the moist shelter is easily accessible for your geckos and regularly check that it remains adequately hydrated.

Remember to monitor the overall health and well-being of your geckos during the shedding process and seek veterinary care if needed.

gecko shedding

Feeding and Watering Your Gecko

African fat-tailed geckos have specific dietary requirements that must be met to ensure their health and well-being. As primarily insectivores, their diet should consist of live reptile food such as crickets and mealworms. However, it’s important to note that other options like silkworms, waxworms, and pinkie mice should only be given as supplements due to their high fat content.

In order to provide your gecko with optimal nutrition, it’s crucial to gut-load the insects before feeding them to your gecko. This involves feeding the insects with gut-loading foods that add nutritional value. Nutritious options for gut-loading include baby cereal, fish flakes, and leafy greens.

Furthermore, to support the growth and development of strong bones, it’s recommended to dust the insects with calcium powder at every feeding. Calcium is an essential mineral for reptiles, and by dusting the insects, you ensure that your gecko receives an adequate amount of calcium.

Vitamin supplementation is also necessary to maintain your gecko’s overall health. It’s important to provide a vitamin supplement once a week to ensure that your gecko receives all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Lastly, fresh water should always be available to your gecko in a shallow reptile water dish. This allows your gecko to stay hydrated and ensures their well-being. Make sure to clean and refill the water dish regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria or other contaminants.

To summarize, here are the key points for feeding and watering your gecko:

  • Provide live reptile food such as crickets and mealworms as the primary diet.
  • Supplement with options like silkworms, waxworms, and pinkie mice due to their high fat content.
  • Gut-load the insects with nutritious foods before feeding them to your gecko.
  • Dust the insects with calcium powder at every feeding.
  • Provide a vitamin supplement once a week for additional nutrition.
  • Ensure fresh water is available at all times in a shallow reptile water dish.

Food Primary Diet Supplement
Pinkie Mice


In conclusion, the African fat-tailed gecko is an ideal reptile pet for those looking for a docile and low-maintenance companion. By following this comprehensive care guide, you can create a comfortable and thriving habitat for your gecko. Providing a suitable terrarium with proper heating and lighting is crucial for its well-being. Additionally, creating a naturalistic habitat with the right substrate, humidity levels, and hiding spots ensures a stress-free environment.

Feeding your gecko a balanced diet of live reptile food, gut-loaded with nutritious options, and regularly dusting with calcium powder is essential for its health. Remember to always have fresh water available in a shallow dish. When purchasing an African fat-tailed gecko, opt for captive-bred animals to support their well-being and avoid wild-caught geckos.

With proper care and attention, these geckos can live for 15-20 years, becoming beloved pets that bring joy to their owners. Whether you are a reptile enthusiast or new to keeping geckos, following this care guide will ensure a fulfilling experience with your African fat-tailed gecko. Enjoy the company of your new reptile companion and have a wonderful journey in the world of gecko care!


What is a fat-tailed leopard gecko?

A fat-tailed leopard gecko, also known as Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, is a nocturnal ground-dwelling lizard native to desert areas in West Africa.

Why are fat-tailed leopard geckos popular as pets?

Fat-tailed leopard geckos are popular as pets because of their docile nature and ability to thrive in captivity.

Where can I buy a fat-tailed leopard gecko?

You can purchase fat-tailed leopard geckos online through breeders who specialize in captive breeding. They may also be available at local reptile expos.

How big do fat-tailed geckos get?

Fat-tailed geckos can grow up to 9 inches in length. Males are slightly larger than females.

How long do fat-tailed geckos live?

When cared for properly, fat-tailed geckos can live for 15-20 years in captivity.

What size terrarium do fat-tailed geckos need?

A 10-gallon aquarium is sufficient for a single fat-tailed gecko, but larger terrariums or rack systems may be needed for multiple geckos.

What heating options should I provide for my gecko?

Fat-tailed geckos require a heating source from below, such as an under tank heat pad or heat cable controlled by a thermostat.

What temperature should the terrarium be?

The terrarium should have a temperature of approximately 90°F at the warm end and in the high 70s to low 80s at the cool end.

Do fat-tailed geckos need lighting?

Lighting is not necessary for fat-tailed geckos, as they are nocturnal.

What substrate should I use in the terrarium?

Options for substrate include newspaper, paper towel, or commercial reptile bedding.

What kind of shelters should I provide for my gecko?

Geckos require reptile shelters such as plastic containers or rock caves where they can sleep or hide.

How often should I mist the terrarium for humidity?

The terrarium should be misted a few times a week to maintain a slightly higher humidity level than leopard geckos.

What do fat-tailed geckos eat?

Fat-tailed geckos are primarily insectivores and their diet consists of live reptile food such as crickets and mealworms.

What should I feed the insects before giving them to my gecko?

Insects should be gut-loaded with nutritious foods such as baby cereal, fish flakes, or leafy greens before being fed to the geckos.

How often should I dust the insects with calcium powder?

Insects should be dusted with calcium powder at every feeding to provide essential nutrients for the gecko.

How often should I provide a vitamin supplement?

A vitamin supplement should be given to the gecko once a week to ensure they are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Should I provide a water dish for my gecko?

Yes, fresh water should always be available in a shallow reptile water dish.

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