The African fat tailed gecko species are known as one of the more neat and sophisticated breed of gecko. They’re very much so a pleasure to own and they’re relatively easy to take care of. They’re one of my highly recommended gecko breeds for brand new owners so they can get a feel for raising a gecko and taking care of one. Much like their name, their original source is about the same, as they come from various regions in the western part of Africa. They can also tend to be found in areas around Nigeria as well as Senegal.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the African fat tailed gecko is exactly what the name implies, and you guessed it, it’s the fat tail on the gecko. They tend to be laid back and not as aggressive as other species which might be confusing since the majority of species comes from Africa is violent in nature. It’s not exactly their fault though, because as an animal that’s not very large with a long line of animals that kill them, you have to be violent and quick to survive. However, the African fat tailed gecko has managed to survive and is a very laid back creature.
However, the only downfall to owning an African fat tailed gecko is that they tend to have a bit more maintenance and requirements than say owning a House Gecko or a Crested Gecko, but they’re still very simple to take care of. If you do maintain their living quarters every day and provide them with all the tools they need to survive, then they’ll be happy and you’ll have a healthy pet.
With being easy to take care of, this makes the housing situation incredibly easy; not that housing a gecko was difficult in the first place. Ideally, all you’re going to need to provide them with is the right combination of heat and humidity whether its night or day and you should be alright. Of course you’ll have to feed them the appropriate meals and times on a consistent basis but that’s covered a little further down. One of the greatest features for new pet owners is that the African fat tailed gecko is terrestrial. This means that they aren’t going to climb up the cage, they aren’t going to climb around and if they do happen to escape while you’re handling them or just escape, then you don’t have to worry about them climbing anything.
Therefore, you’re not going to have to provide any kind of props for anything the gecko to climb on but however, you’re still going to need to provide them with some proper substrate though. With the lack of things to climb on, you have to make up for that by providing things that are on the ground such as hiding spots and substrate that isn’t harmful to your pet which will be covered as well. If you fail to build a perfect habitat for your pet, they will become stressed out and they could possibly die.
So why is heat so important, won’t heat just add to their stress and kill them? Well, if you add too much heat into the enclosure you could kill them but generally speaking, they need heat to survive. While we might find some temperatures scorching outside and a lack of motivation to do anything, African fat tailed gecko usually use the heat and humidity to do a number of things such as shedding and digesting food. Also, all reptiles are cold blooded and what this means is, they’re going to require heat into their bodies to help regulate temperatures. If you touch your gecko, even under a heat lamp, you might notice that they’re cold to the touch.
The best example of cold blooded skin is by touching a snake, even if it’s warm out, you’ll notice that the slimy surface of a snake feels really cold to the touch. This is because it relies on heat to keep its body warm and to regulate a healthy temperature. One of the other major benefits to adequate housing and having great heat is that if an African fat tailed gecko or any gecko for that matter loses their tail, having adequate heat will help them grow their tails back quicker if they should ever happen to lose it. So the first thing you’re going to want is to make sure that the gecko has a lot of floor space in a terrarium or aquarium. You can use a cage since they don’t really climb that well but you’ll have to monitor the temperature more since the area will be more open that an aquarium is.
There are a lot of different aquariums out there and different types, but you’ll have to shop around for whichever one you think is the best. Some people recommend different companies or different brands of enclosures but you’ll just have to do some searching to find out which one is best for you and works for the living situation you’re trying to setup. Also, take into account how many African fat tailed gecko you plan on storing because the more you have, the bigger space you’ll need, provided that you’re not mixing males together. Gecko males when in the same habitat have a tendency to fight and not that brotherly love fight, that fighting as in trying to kill each other.
Providing an adequate habitat for the gecko is obviously your number one chore and the first thing you’ll want to look into in my opinion is a 20 gallon tank. The 20 long gallon tanks will hold just about any size gecko and you can even hold 2 females and one male in there if you choose to do so. Also, just be aware that if you plan on mixing females and males, there will more than likely be breeding and you will have to deal with eggs in the future. Another benefit of the 20 gallon tank is that you’ll never have to upgrade the size of the tank as it grows into it.
The African fat tailed gecko likes to play hide and seek with the owner a lot, especially in a new environment, you’ll find that they’re hiding a good majority of the time so you need to provide them with a lot of different places to hide. This can be accomplished by setting up fake props from the pet store or making your own low budget shelters such as empty upside butter bowls with a hole for the door. You can choose to provide some ground foliage inside the aquarium if you like but that’s completely up to you and will depend on what kind of substrate you end up going with.
Ideally, there are a lot of different kinds of substrate that you can go with for an African fat tailed gecko or any kind of gecko because it’s very versatile depending on what kind of theme you’re looking to build inside the housing structure. However, one general rule to go by is that it should be a very moist type of substrate and not too hard and not sharp in nature like fine grain sand. If you do go with a hard but suitable substrate, you need to make sure that the area has at least one moist place in the area that will help assist in the shedding process.
When it comes to the African fat tailed gecko, some people have found that moss type substrate works the best as they aren’t going to swallow it, it’s easy on their feet and it looks good in the enclosure as well. However, if you’re looking to make your own blend of substrate and you know exactly how to do it, then you should consider using a solution that combines cocoa husk, some peat moss and just a little bit of sand (provided that it isn’t fine grain sand).
You’ll find sometimes that a gecko likes to go into the ground and burrow. They do this in moist substrate if you’ve provided it because it feels good to them and they’ll use the substrate to hide. So make sure that its a few inches deep at the minimum if you decide to go with something moist. Also, they’ll use moist substrate to rehydrate themselves as well.
Keeping your African fat tailed gecko at a perfect temperature will ensure that they live as long as they possibly can and live a long and happy life. Now for the particular species and breed the African fat tailed gecko, a lot of people would highly recommend that you use an under tank heating pad that helps regulate the temperature of the aquarium. What this does is, comfortably sits underneath the tank or aquarium and it will evenly spread out heat around the enclosure and can be effective but cost a little bit more than what’s known as an overheating lamp.
Now, with any kind of heating source, you’re absolutely going to need a thermostat and preferably not one that’s cheap or $1. You’re going to want one that’s digital and can read temperatures accurately because it’s very important that you get the right temperature. Obviously, when it’s day time out, the heat’s going to be more active and your enclosure is going to be warmer in the day time than it is in night time. If your enclosure seems to be warmer at night time, then you need to look into something because obviously something is wrong with your heater or your thermometer.
During the night, you can adjust the temperature settings to let the temperature drop a couple of degrees or even 5 degrees in most cases. This is because they’re used to the temperature drop out in the wild and they might be hiding until the heat goes away. This also stimulates a realistic version of being out in the wild and being night and day, because if it’s always day time and the gecko never gets any time to cool off, it’ll become very stressed out relatively quickly.
One common mistake that new owners make because they’re sold by pet store inexperienced workers is what’s known as heating rocks. While they may not be extremely pricey, they can be extremely dangerous to a terrestrial animal such as the African fat tailed gecko. Any kind of pet owner or pet store worker should know that but sometimes they’re just trying to sell some products without thinking about it. What can happen is, if your heating rock is overheating, your gecko might collide with it or mistake it for a nice surface to sit on and burn themselves.
Some people say that you can use a heat rock if you’re regulating the temperature with a thermostat but its best if you just stay away from using one altogether. When you’re trying to find the perfect humidity, it’s best recommended that you use a tool known as the hygrometer because it’ll help regulate the humidity inside the enclosure. Misting will do this as well but it won’t harm you to have both in place. You’re going to want to keep a healthy 50 to 70 on the humidity scale to make sure your pet can digest food and shed healthy.
Now concerning the humidity of the enclosure, the geckos don’t exactly need to be super humid but at the same time, you also don’t want the enclosure to be really dry either. If possible at all, depending on the size of the enclosure, you’re going to want to try to keep one area of the enclosure more humid than the other one. A bowl of water in the corner or wherever you choose to place it will also assist in creating humidity but the main thing apart from measuring humidity that you can do is do what’s called misting. Almost all reptiles from benefit from misting and the African fat tailed gecko is one of them. Simply spray your reptiles down once a day with a water bottle but not to the point of dripping wet.
You just want them to be a little moist and a little wet, you don’t want them to drown or anything. While a jungle scenario and setting might look cool, it’s best not to give them this setup because African fat tailed gecko are used to living in very temperate environments, so try to keep that in mind when setting up your enclosure as well and take all of that into consideration.
The main dish and food that the African fat tailed gecko is going to eat is the insect. Insects come in a wide variety of different shapes and sizes but this is the main meal course that owners prefer to provide to geckos. Also, if you’re looking for a solid base diet that’s cost affordable, you might want to look into mealworms as well. A lot of fishermen use these types of worms because they’re really cheap and they can live for a really long time while being refrigerated. While the geckos main primary course of meal will more than likely be crickets due to a number of reasons, there’s also other species of insects and worms that you can feed to geckos as well.
The African fat tailed gecko really isn’t a picky eater by any standards which is why you have to be careful when feeding them because they’ll eat just about anything and everything that you put into the cage with them. Also, on the list of edible things for an African fat tailed gecko is a butter worm (while this isn’t very common it’s still acceptable), the silk worm, and the cut worm. Some people will feed them wax worms but it’s best just to never start this habit and don’t feed them wax worms.
If you like and want to make sure that your geckos are getting the most nutrients possible inside of a meal, then what you’re going to do is a process called gut loading. This basically means that you’ll either load up crickets with vitamins by feeding it to them or you’ll sprinkle vitamin powder on crickets before feeding them to geckos. This ensures that if any vitamin deficiencies are present, it’ll be addressed but this really isn’t something that’s necessary most of the time. There are a lot of different products out there on the market today for the sole purpose of gut loading or reptile vitamins.
You really don’t need to buy any of them but if you do choose to gut load your insects prior to feeding them to the gecko, then what you want to do is mix them up thoroughly. First, the most common option is to go with the feeding option where you feed the insects vitamins rather than use some kind of sprinkling powder and if you do this, you need to make the insects that are gut loaded wait at least 24 hours before being fed to the geckos. The nutritional value will go way up, which is no secret but a lot of people debate how much value it really adds and this will depend on the kind of vitamin that you’re using.
The only vitamins that you’ll find in a powder form will more than likely be Calcium and D3 which substantially help the growth process so if you feel gut loading is absolutely necessary, sprinkle them on the insects prior to feeding them and after you’ve fed them. How often you need to and should be feeding the gecko will really depend on the age of the gecko, because the older they get, the less they eat. African fat tailed geckos tend to come out of the wood work and eat when they want, and at times their eating schedules are a bit sporadic.
Also, you need to know that when you’re watering geckos, that you can’t get away with simply misting the cage and hoping that they’ll lick the water droplets because African fat tailed gecko will not lick the droplets, even when they’re starving. You have to keep a water bowl in the enclosure at all times and make sure that it’s filled up constantly.
As stated in the introduction of the African fat tailed gecko, they’re extremely tame pets and they’re reasonably easy to handle. They’re known as one of the most docile and easy to tame breeds of gecko out there as long as you have the patience required to sit there and work with them. Ideally, you’ll notice that after a few weeks and getting used to their environment, the geckos will be less jumpy and won’t be as frightened as easily. However, sometimes this can be done in less time it just depends on how stressed out they are and other contributing factors.
The first couple of weeks, it’s probably for the best that you’re not trying to handle the gecko and you’re not constantly trying to pick it up and add any unneeded stress.