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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

African Fat-tailed Gecko: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Learn more about this Gecko by reading these African Fat-tailed Gecko facts

The African fat-tailed gecko, scientific name Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, is a member of the Eublepharidae family and belongs to the reptiles class. The Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, generally known as the African fat-tailed gecko is brown and tannish in color with spots or stripes on the back or head. As the name suggests, it has a fat tail that stores fat. This reptile is mostly found in West Africa ranging from Senegal to Cameroon and is nocturnal. Dry and tropical or hot climates are preferred by this gecko and thus the African fat-tailed gecko habitat includes rocky woodlands and savannas. These animals are ectothermic which means that the body temperature depends on external sources. This species is not social and thus, is mostly found solitary and it is uncommon to see them in groups. The African fat-tailed gecko lifespan ranges from 10-15 years and tends to live more in captivity. The breeding process for this species is from November to March and mate with multiple partners. The male is larger and more dominating than the females. Their diet is made up of insects and this gecko does not prefer dead animals. These species are becoming popular as pets because of their calm and docile temperament and also because the African fat-tailed gecko care is not demanding. These species are also open to handling as compared to leopard geckos. Not only these species are easy to pet but are quite interesting to learn about, so keep reading!

For more animal facts, check out our articles on the sand lizard and rattlesnake.

African Fat-tailed Gecko Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African fat-tailed gecko?

An African fat-tailed gecko is a lizard.

What class of animal does an African fat-tailed gecko belong to?

African fat-tailed geckos belong to the class of reptiles.

How many African fat-tailed geckos are there in the world?

There has been no specific number recorded for the African fat-tailed geckos.

Where does an African fat-tailed gecko live?

African fat-tailed geckos live in savannas and rocky woodlands in West Africa.  

What is an African fat-tailed gecko's habitat?

The habitat of this fat-tailed gecko includes rocky hillsides, river edges, and scrublands. The habitat is dry and arid and they spend most of their time hiding in dark or humid in the surface debris or burrows as they are nocturnal creatures. These fat-tailed geckos require somewhat of a high temperature to live and survive. The habitat elevation on average is 1000 m, which could be higher or lower than this depending on the areas.

Who do African fat-tailed geckos live with?

Generally, these fat-tailed geckos live alone as they hide in burrows and males have the tendency to defend their areas.

How long does an African fat-tailed gecko live?

These fat-tailed geckos are known to live for 10-15 years while living longer than this is not uncommon. They are known to live longer in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season for these fat-tailed geckos is from November to March. The males are larger than the females and are dominating. They breed with multiple mates during the breeding season. The males also tend to be competitive and thus, both males and females are territorial. The male grabs the neck of the female and proceeds with mating. The female lays multiple clutches of eggs depending on the number of males it bred with. When in captivity, the incubation period depends on the temperature at which the eggs are kept. Lower temperatures lead to a longer gestation period compared to higher temperatures. The young geckos take 8-11 months after hatching to reach maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of these fat-tailed geckos is Least Concern.

African Fat-tailed Gecko Fun Facts

What do African fat-tailed geckos look like?

These fat-tailed geckos are brown or tannish in color. They have a pattern of light and dark blotches or broad stripes on the upper back and tail. Some also have a white stripe starting from the head and continues on back to the tail. The shape of the jaw makes it seem like the gecko is always smiling. As the name suggests, these geckos possess a bulky or fat tail. Males have pores under the base of their hind legs which is absent in females. There are different shapes among the tails but the most common is the teardrop shape which is similar to their head which can sometimes confuse the predator.

The fat tail of this gecko is one of the identifiable and distinguishing features.

How cute are they?

These fat-tailed geckos are lizards and only have a bit of a different appearance from most lizards and so, are not really considered that cute.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about the way of communication of these fat-tailed geckos but it has been recorded that these geckos use their vision to communicate and also a certain type of vocalizations are used to ward off other geckos. It is also believed that these geckos also use their tails to distract or attract prey by wagging or waving the tail.

How big is an African fat-tailed gecko?

In terms of African fat-tailed gecko size, it is comparatively small and easy to handle. It only grows around 7-9 in (178-229 mm) long.

How fast can an African fat-tailed gecko run?

These fat-tailed geckos are calm and docile and tend to mostly sleep and bask. They are not known to run very much.

How much does an African fat-tailed gecko weigh?

The weight of African fat-tailed geckos ranges from 0.09-0.17 lb (0.045-0.075 kg). These geckos are fairly small and lightweight.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female of the species.

What would you call a baby African fat-tailed gecko?

A baby African fat-tailed gecko is called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

This gecko is insectivorous and feeds on mealworms, crickets roaches, and other small insects. They are nocturnal and thus, hunt for insects at night. These reptiles are also known to eat their shed skins. Shed skin represents lost calcium and vitamin and so it is consumed to recover the lost nutrients. When in captivity, this fat-tail gecko is fed cricket and larval insects like mealworms, waxworms, and hornworms but to ensure all the nutrition and minerals, it is fed 'dusting' crickets and other insects with calcium and vitamin powder or gut-loaded insects. Gut loading is a process where the feeder insects are fed high protein and other important nutrients and then fed to the gecko.

Are they friendly?

The fat tail gecko is considered to be a shy gecko and is open to handling. The geckos can be housed but it must be ensured that the gecko is not handled by its tail. It can also become tame with regular contact.

Would they make a good pet?

The fat tail gecko makes really great pets as they thrive in captivity and not much gecko care is required. The lifespan of this reptile is around 10-15 years. They are shy and calm and open to handling. They are docile animals and are preferred to be kept as pets. These reptiles are great for beginners to learn to handle reptiles. While a certain amount of care and requirements need to be ensured, these species are comparatively easy to keep as pets and are becoming more popular than the leopard geckos which were more commonly found as pets.

While adult geckos require larger tanks, the young ones can be housed in the same African fat-tailed gecko setup. Temperature and humidity levels should be ensured. The daytime temperature should be around 72-88 degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime temperature should be around 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit and the basking spot should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Their tanks or cage or habitat should have multiple hiding places, due to the nocturnal nature of this reptile, they tend to be asleep or hidden most of the day. It should also be kept in mind that two male geckos should not be housed together as these male geckos have the tendency to defend their territories and might engage in a fight. For their bedding, a substrate such as paper towels and newspapers can be used. Some have also used orchid bark or sandy soil mix.

Their diet should be consistent and healthy. Some gecko species can eat fruit, but the African fat-tailed gecko cannot. This fat tail gecko is purely an insectivore, crickets, mealworms, and roaches should be given. This reptile should also be provided with a fresh, clean water dish every day.

When first bought, give some time to these reptiles to adjust and get comfortable with this new African fat-tailed gecko environment, once they start eating and defecating regularly, you can handle it as often as you like. It should be kept in mind that this reptile should not be handled with its tail. A carefully restrained gecko bites often and an adult male can pinch too.

Did you know...

The word gecko is derived from the Indonesian-Malay word 'gekoq', which means something similar to the sound this animal makes.

Sex determination of these fat tail geckos is dependent on temperature, if the incubation temperatures are low, then offspring produced will be female.  

The tails of these geckos are fat storage which makes it an important reserve and so, they can go days without food if it is scarce.

It is believed that the healthier the geckos are, the thicker their tails are.

If this reptile is under attack or feels threatened, it can lose its tail voluntarily and the tail grows back but more rounded in shape. This is generally done to confuse the predator.

The African fat-tailed gecko price could be as low as $75 or could be up to $500. The price depends on the appearance and the breeder.

Why does an African fat-tailed gecko have a fat tail?

The fat tails of this reptile serve the purpose of a reserve and fat is stored in these tails which allows them to go without food for days when it's scarce.

Thus, it is said that the fatness of the tail determines the health of this animal. The fatter the tail, the healthier this animal is.

What is different about African fat-tailed geckos from most other geckos?

If you're wondering about the African fat-tailed gecko vs leopard gecko, let's take a look. While the leopard gecko is more common as pets, the fat-tailed is now becoming popular too. The differences between the two are leopard geckos are longer and have eye mutations that help them with changing colors, whereas the fat-tailed reptile is smaller and has short and fat tails.

Also, this fat-tailed gecko has moveable eyelids and so, can blink which other geckos lack.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles including gecko, or golden tailed gecko.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our gecko coloring pages.

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