African Fat Tailed Gecko – A Beginner’s Guide

African Fat Tailed Gecko

African Fat-Tailed Geckos, scientifically known as Hemitheconyx Caudicinctus, are ground-dueling geckos that live in Africa and are crepuscular. The can be found in West Africa from Senegal to Cameroon.

African Fat Tailed Gecko
Source: Hexasoft

Those crepuscular geckos are also terrestrial, have moveable eyelids, vertical pupils, and lack the sticky feet that lots of geckos are known for. They live in dry and arid areas but spend most of their time in humid hiding places. They also thrive in captivity.

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are typically brown with than or beige stripes, and with a possible thin-white stripe from the head to tail right on the middle of their back. And the underbelly is either off-white or a pale pink color.

You should also keep in mind that this gecko is from the subfamily Eublepharinae, which also includes the whitely popular leopard gecko. They are becoming more and more popular because they are even more docile than the leopard geckos and make excellent pets for novice reptile keepers.

Size (inches/cm): 7-9 inches

Life Expectancy (years): 10-25 years in captivity

What does an African Fat Tailed Gecko look like?

The African Fat-Tailed Geckos has a similar body to the leopard gecko, except it’s slightly smaller with a bigger head and a bigger tail. They get their name because of their quite large tail that resembles a caterpillar.

The tail is quite long as well, it has a big bugle in the middle and it ends in a slimmer shape. These geckos can store lots of fats in the tail, which allows them to go for days without eating. They also have the capability to lose their tail if they are attacked.

After losing its tail, it will start to slowly regenerate but it will never look the same. The new tail will most likely have another collar and pattern than the rest of the body. And it will have a more rounded shape similar to the gecko’s head.

African Fat Tailed Geckos – Temperament and Habits

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are easily some of the most docile geckos in the world. This includes both in the wild and in captivity. They are known for their gentle and calm behavior and they spend most of their time sleeping and basking. And they only go out for hunting insects when they absolutely need to.

However, this doesn’t mean that they are not capable of doing damage if they want to. They will rather intimidate the opponent through vocalizing and tail shaking instead of actually fighting. When they are strongly threatened, they tend to fight until they lose their tail.

If you have more than one, you can fit them together as they don’t tend to fight each other over food. Both males and females will use quiet squeaks and clicks to attract each other or ward off an unwanted company.

While hunting or when you feed them, you will notice that they tend to raise their tails and wave them in the air. They do this to distract the prey before they attack. They are quite intelligent creatures, but shy.

Are African Fat Tailed Geckos nocturnal or diurnal?

Those geckos are crepuscular in the wild and more likely to be nocturnal in captivity. This means that in their natural habitat they only become active during twilight. They are active during the dawn and dusk. However, they can also be seen active during a full moon or on a day where the clouds cover up to 95% of the sky.

When they find themselves in captivity they slowly start to develop a nocturnal behavior. The geckos born in captivity will be nocturnal from the start. They are also healthier and don’t carry and diseases, compared to the wild-caught African Fat-Tailed Geckos.

Are African Fat Tailed Geckos aggressive?

There are lots and lots of gecko species all over the world that vary in size. These geckos are not exactly the biggest and definitely not the most dangerous. They are actually even more recommended than the leopard gecko as the perfect choice for your first lizard.

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are extremely docile and are the easiest lizards to tame. When they are younger they tend to be shy and spend most of the time hiding away. This will make contact with them a bit difficult.

But as they get older, they are very easy to handle and if you place your hand on the ground they will often walk right into the palm of your hand. You don’t have to worry about biting as they will only retaliate in the most extreme cases.

If they feel threatened while you hold them they will more likely drop their tail and run than actually bite you. So be very careful when handling and pay attention to the signs it tries to communicate to you. If they look stressed, it’s best to put them back in their cage and leave them alone for a while.

Where do African Fat Tailed Geckos live?

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are native to West Africa and can be found almost anywhere from Senegal to Cameroon. They live in dry and arid grasslands and can also be found in rocky areas and on the sides of some rivers. They are not used to sand and can it actually be dangerous for them so it’s best to avoid them as a substrate.

They spend most of their time burrowed in humid hiding places, which means they need a higher humidity level than your leopard geckos. The humidity is necessary for their health and for skin shedding. They are quite good at avoiding predators since their color and patterns offer them an advantage.

How many African Fat Tailed Geckos can be housed together?

When it comes to housing an African Fat-Tailed Gecko, it’s actually quite easy and they can live a very long and happy life if you give them more space and take care of them properly. They are great for people that only want one reptile as they don’t need a companion.

If you want more than one, you have multiple choices. You can house one male with a female, a male with various females, or a few females together. Make sure to never put a male with more than three females together.

Just like any other male gecko, the African Fat-Tailed male gecko is very territorial and should never be housed together with another male. They will start to make squeaking sounds and threatening clicking to scare each other off.

If vocalization doesn’t work, they will start getting violent with each other and won’t stop until the other is dead or dropped its tail and ran away.


Males are known to attract females by being very vocal. This means making various clicking sounds and squeaking noises while trying to attract the attention of a female African Fat-Tailed Gecko. You can expect the mating season to start in November and last until March.

If the female is not accepting the male, she will start making threatening noises and stand her ground. But when the mating begins, don’t interrupt them if you think it’s too violent. Males tend to grab the female’s neck and hold tightly throughout the whole mating process.

The gestation period of a female African Fat-Tailed Gecko can be anywhere between 40 to 70 days, depending on the temperature. If the incubation hot is not hot enough, the gestation period will likely take longer. It’s recommended to maintain the temperature between 75F and 90F.

With time, you will be able to notice eggs inside the female’s belly. They’re typically capable of having between 1 and 3 offspring per clutch.

What do African Fat Tailed Geckos eat?

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are insectivores and should never be fed anything else. They can’t eat any vegetables or fruits and the prey always has to be alive. You should always provide high-protein insects and not even try to feed your gecko leafy greens.

The best choice for these geckos is crickets as they contain almost everything they need to lead a healthy life. You can get them from your nearby reptile pet store or have them shipped online by professional reptile food providers. It’s never a good idea to catch them yourself as they can carry diseases.

Other types of live prey your gecko will love are waxworms, mealworms, silkworms, caterpillars, etc. But since these contain a bit too much fat, they should be fed in moderation. African Fat-Tailed Geckos are also capable of eating extremely small pinky mice but they should be an extremely rare treat.

Before feeding the insects to your gecko, you need to either gut-load them or dust them with calcium powder and vitamin D supplements from time to time. This means that you should only do this once or twice a week then give your gecko the insects as they are for the remaining meals.

How much do they eat?

It’s important to keep in mind that the insects you feed your gecko are always smaller than the space between the gecko’s eyes. You can either take the gecko out of its enclosure and move it to an empty tank for feeding or let the insects roam the gecko’s terrarium and let it hunt them.

Adults should be fed up to 9 crickets or worms per meal and if they’re not excited to eat they might have a health problem. A happy and healthy gecko will always be eager to eat and hunt insects. If you let the prey loose in the gecko’s enclosure, make sure the lizard eats every one of them.

If the gecko doesn’t finish eating them, you should always remove the remaining prey and insect parts within a few hours. Otherwise, the food can go bad and the gecko can get sick from eating it later.

When it comes to hatchlings, you should only feed them 5 small crickets. Then you need to keep adding to their weekly diet as they get older.

How often do you feed a African Fat Tailed Gecko?

Adult African Fat-Tailed Geckos need to be fed at least three or four times a week. They store lots of fat in their tail, which allows them to go for days without eating. But that’s only for extreme cases where they don’t find anything to hunt for days. In captivity, you’ll need to feed them properly.

Hatchlings need to be fed a lot more often as they eat much smaller crickets and they need to eat most of the time to grow up healthy. You will have to feed them a few times a day at first, then daily, and then after 4 months, you can start feeding them less often.

How do African Fat Tailed Geckos drink?

When it comes to drinking, lots of geckos prefer getting the hydration they need from the raindrops they find on leaves. Since African Fat-Tailed Geckos need a higher humidity level in the cage, they should find lots of places to drink from.

But this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to provide a water dish. In fact, it’s a must to ensure a shallow and larger water bowl is always in the cage. It shouldn’t be too shallow as the gecko can fall and hurt itself. But it should be larger as this gecko might get into the water bowl and soak for a few minutes.

You’ll have to change the water daily to ensure your African Fat-Tailed Gecko always has a clean and fresh water source.

Caring for a African Fat Tailed Gecko

Caring for African Fat-Tailed Geckos is quite easy if you take the time to learn about their needs. In fact, they’re some of the easiest-to-take care of geckos in the world, along with the leopard geckos. They’re even more docile and make the perfect pet for first-time lizard owners.

While humidity and heat are very important and should be closely monitored, the rest of the husbandry is pretty straightforward. And if you take good care of them, you will be able to enjoy their company for over 20 years.

Type of enclosure/cage needed

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are not the biggest geckos but they still need a bit of space to live comfortably. A gecko in a tank that’s too small for it can become aggressive and destroy everything in the cage trying to escape. It might even injure itself in the process.

You can use a 10-gallon vivarium for both hatchlings and an adult African Fat-Tailed Gecko. But if you can get a 15-gallon tank it would be perfect. Housing two geckos together require a 20-25-gallon tank to live very comfortably but three of them can live happily in this space as well.

The best choice for these geckos is a wooden vivarium with sliding doors and ventilation holes. This will do a great job at maintaining humidity and an even better job when it comes to ventilating the cage.

Substrate required in a Gecko’s tank

The Bark substrate is one of the most popular types of substrates when it comes to housing lizards. It’s widely used because of how safe it is for most geckos. And since African Fat-Tailed Geckos love burrowing in wet hiding places, you can also use soil (not from your garden). It’s great at maintaining humidity and the gecko will love making its own burrows.

Other types of substrates that work great are newspaper and paper towels, especially if you’re on a budget. The newspaper needs to be printed with non-toxic ink and the paper towels should be plain white, have no drawings, and not be bleached.

They’re extremely easy to spot clean but you’ll also have to replace the newspaper and paper towels every 2-3 days. You can also opt for a reptile carpet if your African Fat-Tailed Gecko already has all the hiding places it needs.


The African Fat-Tailed Gecko is a cold-blooded creature that needs to move around its enclosure to manage to self-regulate its body temperature. The heat requirements are quite high but you should never heat up the entire tank at the same temperature.

While these geckos will rarely bask, it’s still best to provide an area that has a temperature between 90 to 95F. On the other end of the tank, you should make sure the temperature is significantly cooler. Between 78F and 82F would be perfect.

You should also keep in mind that African Fat-Tailed Geckos brumate and their natural body clocks will tell them to shut down for a while. If you want to interrupt and prevent brumation, interacting as much as you can with the gecko should do the trick.

If you’re OK with letting it brumate for a while, you should cool down the tank to about 68-77F. And if you keep African Fat-Tailed Geckos for breeding, males should absolutely undergo brumation. You can use a thermostat to ensure the temperature is always perfect.

Humidity levels

Since they come from the same subfamily as the leopard gecko many people think that they can be housed together. And while they might even get along, it’s actually a very bad idea. This is because both species of lizards need different humidity levels.

The African Fat-Tailed Gecko needs between 50 to 70% humidity and this can cause lots and lots of health problems to the leopard gecko. And if the humidity drops to match the leopard gecko’s needs, the African Fat-Tailed Gecko will develop its own skin problems and health issues.

You should use a hygrometer to always maintain accurate humidity levels all over the tank.

How much light does it need?

In the wild, African Fat-Tailed Geckos are crepuscular and they are naturally exposed to a little bit of UVB light. This means you should equip their vivarium with a 2% UVB light. Its job is to boost their immune system and provide the calcium your gecko needs.

These geckos need 12 hours a day and 12 hours a night and the UVB light should be changed every 6 months, especially if it’s a more affordable model. If it’s a very expensive one, it might last up to 12 months. While the light still works, the UVB rays are not provided anymore, which means you need to change the bulb.

Keeping African Fat Tailed Geckos as Pets

Keeping African Fat-Tailed Geckos as pets is quite an easy thing to do. You will have to make sure the food is appropriate and that the tank is always clean. This will ensure a long and happy life.

Daily cleaning includes spot cleaning the stool and disinfecting and changing the water bowl. Weekly cleaning includes changing the substrate. And monthly cleaning means moving your gecko to a new container for a while and remove everything from the cage.

Once the cage is empty, use a reptile-cage disinfecting solution and clean everything. Put everything back together and return the gecko to its home.

Health of African Fat Tailed Geckos

Besides the common gecko health problems, such as skin infection, respiratory infection, mouth rot, bacterial infection, these geckos are also prone to another disease as well. This is called Cryptosporidiosis, which is a from of parasite that can be found in soil and water.

This disease can be very dangerous and can be spotted when your gecko has runny stool and a very thin tail instead of its usual fat one. You can prevent it by disinfecting the cage monthly and cleaning the stool daily.

Are African Fat Tailed Geckos good pets?

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are the most docile geckos in the world and 99% of the time they accept handling. They will even walk aright onto the palm of your hand if they like you. While they are young they can be shy but they are very calm and relaxed lizards.

These lizards make great pets for inexperienced reptile keepers and are very easy to take care of.

How much do African Fat Tailed Geckos cost?

African Fat-Tailed Geckos are becoming incredibly popular and you won’t find them in pet shops. You’ll be able to get them online from lots and lots of breeders. Some of these lizards that are bred in captivity come with an orange color and can be quite pricey.

You can expect to pay anywhere between $75 and $600. The price depends on its color, stripes, whether or not it has the white stripe along its back, etc.