African Fat-Tailed Gecko, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus:

Introduction

African fat-tailed (AFT) geckos are the second most widely kept eublepharine gecko. These geckos, with their velvety appearance, rich coloration, large dark eyes, and docile personality make them o ne of the best species for gecko enthusiasts. Their care is almost identical to that of a leopard gecko.

Distribution

West Africa (from Nigeria west to Senegal).

Size

Males can grow to 10 inches in total body length. Females are seldom larger than 8 inches.

Supplies

Their care is basic and are simple to care for. Here are a list of supplies that you will need for your gecko before bringing him home:

Quarantine

It is necessary that you quarantine your new arrival to observe it and make sure that it is parasite free. Three months is the recommended quarantine period, but one month is sufficient. Make sure to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling each gecko.

Substrate

As with Leopard Geckos, it is strongly advised that you keep all fat-tails under 6" in length on paper towels. After your AFT reaches 6" in length you can either leave him/her on the paper towels for maximum safety, or you can upgrade to putting them on another substrate such as fine-grade play sand, sphagnum peat moss, or soil/orchid bark/sand mix. AFT's will usually defecate in the same area, which makes cleanup super easy.

Gecko Network feels that using fine grained orchard bark and sand is best even though there are the impaction risks. We feel that this helps keep the cage humidity higher at which an African Fat-tailed gecko needs. And that it outweighs the risk.

Shelter

Provide your gecko with at least one shelter or "hide" that is on the cooler end of the tank. A hide provides security but also allows them to escape from a bright light. There are many aquarium decorations that act as hides and at the same time livens up your gecko's home.

Feeding

The best thing for your fat-tail is crickets and mealworms. Do not feed wild caught insects as they may carry disease or parasites that may be fatal for your gecko. Always use store bought crickets and mealies. Mealworms or crickets can both be a staple diet, provided that you gutload each with the proper nutrients that your geckos need. Remember, what goes into the insect goes into your gecko. Some people prefer mealworms to crickets, and vice versa, and some people feed their gecko both. Fat-tail hatchlings should be fed crickets up to 1/2" long and adults should be fed 3/4" crickets. Feed adult AFTs two to three times a week (unless it is a female during breeding season which should be fed daily) and hatchling to juvenile geckos daily. Remove any crickets that they do not consume in 15 minutes, as leaving it in will stress out your gecko. Make sure to dust your feeder insects with a calcium powder at least once a week, and dust the food for your gravid females daily!

Water should be available at all times, and the water dish should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.

Heating

The proper temperatures for your fat-tails are 85-89 degrees on the heated end of the tank, and 70-75 degrees on the cool end of the tank. I will advise everyone to buy an UTH (under tank heater). If proper temperatures are not achieved by using the UTH, then a heat light may be needed. Fat tails are nocturnal, so to view their activities at night use a red bulb. If using a heat light, make sure it is not possible for your gecko to come into contact with the bulb, as this will cause burns. Heat rocks are NOT a good idea for your gecko, as lizards of all types are easily burned by them.

Humidity

You can mist the cage several times a week, daily for juveniles, to achieve proper humidity, but I prefer putting two humid hides in and not misting at all. After all, if you accidentally get the feces wet, it creates an environment that is very unhealthy for your gecko. If the correct amount of humidity is not offered, the gecko may have difficulty with shedding or become dehydrated, so make sure that your humid hides stay moist at all times. If you have a gravid female, then most likely this is the place where she will choose to lay her eggs. A humid hide can be made by cutting a hole in the side of a Tupperware or margarine container and filling it 1/3 of the way full with Bed-A-Beast, vermiculite, or sphagnum moss.

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