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African Fat-Tailed Gecko Care Sheet
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African Fat-Tailed Gecko
Hemitheconyx caudicinctus
Housing & Substrate:

A minimum size enclosure for one African Fat-Tail Gecko (AFT Gecko) is a ten  gallon tank but the ideal size is 20 gallons. (add ten gallons per every added gecko) They are ground dwelling lizards and do not require a lot of climbing space but should still have a screen lid and items to crawl on top of. Although they are desert lizards they should not be kept on a sand substrate. Avoid play sand, “Calci-sand”, “Repti-sand”, or any other sand. Some packages will say “Digestible” on it but most pet stores just want to make a buck. If your animal eats sand it will harden with the fluid in their stomach and wont pass through the intestines causing impaction. This can be fatal if not caught early enough. Young geckos are more perceptible to this then adults are. Adults’ digestive system can handle larger items then juveniles or babies. Sand can be ok if you watch carefully AND feed in a separate enclosure. They can accidentally snap up sand if they go after a yummy cricket! Safe substrates include but are not limited to: Reptile carpet, Shelf liner, Tile, Linoleum flooring, paper towels, newspaper, or outdoor/indoor carpet (be sure to melt the edges down so the frays don’t come loose or harm your AFT Gecko)


Humidity & Water:


The humidity doesn’t need to be high. They live in a pretty dry environment. No misting is needed. You do need to provide at least one humid hide. Usually a hiding area where its dark and has moist paper towels or moist moss at the bottom to create humidity inside. Because they don’t have humidity you need to give them a small dish of water that is replaced fresh every day.


Temperature & Lighting:
The enclosure needs to be kept between 75˙F (24˙C) and 80˙F (27˙C) on the cool side of the tank and the warm side between 85˙F (30˙C) and 90˙F (33˙C) They require heat from the ground or floor of the tank and don’t bask like other lizards. So you will need to provide a UTH (Under Tank Heater) they stick to the bottom of glass and acrylic tanks to warm the bottom and heat their bellies. African Fat-Tailed Geckos are nocturnal (awake at night) and it is a controversial subject whether they need to be supplied with UV lighting or not. AFT Geckos do not require the special UV lighting that other lizards do. Providing a UV light will not harm them and some people provide it anyways. You should supply a night light for them during the late hours because they are nocturnal and need heat through the night and you want to see them when its dark. These lights come in red, blue, black, and purple. You can keep these lights on all day and night or just during the night. Do not put your gecko near a window as the magnifying through the glass can turn the tank into an oven. Nobody likes a cooked pet. They can see without the special night lights and its mainly an optional accessory. It is ok to see your gecko out of the hide or awake during the day. They rarely sleep all the way through the day. So nothing to worry about there.
Feeding & Supplements:
Babies, juveniles, and adults can eat a staple of crickets (no bigger then the space between their eyes!) with a variety of, butter worms, super worms, silk worms, and roaches. Adults can also eat pinkie mice but it is not a required food item.  The adults should be fed every day to every other day and juveniles/babies daily. You will also need to supply a dish of calcium in the enclosure this is crucial to your pet’s health and needs to be available every day.
African Fat-Tailed Gecko’s eggs can be incubated at different temperatures to determine the gender before they are hatched! If they are incubated at 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) it will produce mostly females, 85-86 degrees produce a mixture of both genders about 1/4 male, males are incubated at 90 degrees.  So if you are getting your gecko from a breeder be sure to ask what the gender is. If you get yours at a pet store the pet store most likely wont know the gender. But don’t worry at around 6 months old you should be able to tell if the gecko is a boy or girl. And it is really simple. Lift your little one up (don’t lay them on their back as this can stop their breathing and crush their lungs) If it is a boy then he will have little bumps near the vent in the shape of the letter “V” these bumps will be raised and darker in color. If she is a female then the bumps will be nearly impossible to see but still somewhat visible. Smooth and the same skin tone as the rest of her belly.
Shopping List/Minimum Requirements:
  • You will need an enclosure (size is mentioned above)
  • Plenty of fake plants (real plants hold humidity which isn’t good for your Gecko) and branches, logs and items to climb on.
  • (optional read above) A UVB producing fluorescent light
  • A heat light or ceramic heat emitter (this basking light should be outside so the pet does not get burnt)
  • A digital Thermometer near the floor of the tank (the stick on plastic dials can be up to 20 degrees inaccurate )
  • A shallow water dish and calcium dish
  • Substrate (above)
  • A nocturnal/red heat bulb if you are not using a ceramic heat emitter to maintain night time temperatures
  • A under tank heater (U.T.H) because they need belly heat to digest food


Not Appropriate:

There are many items that these geckos should not have in their enclosure. Heat Rocks and Heat Caves can severely burn your lizard’s stomach and feet and should be avoided for all lizards. Do not use any Sand, Gravel, Walnut Shells, Wood Chips or Repti-Bark substrates.  Do not feed mealworms, their hard exoskeleton can easily cause impaction they are also very low in nutrients and aren’t healthy.


Other Information:


These lizards are nocturnal and not too active during the day. They will sleep most of the day in their hide and come to life at night. Two males should never be housed together, they can and will fight to the death. Any new reptiles should be taken to the vet before bringing them home to ensure that he or she is fully healthy and if they aren’t they can get the treatment they need. They do tolerate being handled I wouldn’t say that they enjoy it but they will tolerate it. They are docile but some males can be aggressive. The adults tolerate it much more then the juveniles especially if they were used to being held when they were young

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