Gecko Care – tail loss
A gecko will drop it’s tail when it is threatened or grabbed by the tail (never hold a gecko by it’s tail), it does this as a defense mechanism. When it first drops the tail it will wriggle around on the floor, this is hoped to distract the enemy while the gecko makes their escape. This is labeled as autonomy and is used as a defense mechanism by many species of gecko.
The connective tissue around the tail is specially designed to allow the tail to break off easily. Sometimes the tail does not break off fully and either heals or in some cases it heals and a new tail will also start to grow thus leaving the gecko with 2 tails, there are reports of geckos being sighted with 3 tails still attached.
When the Tail or part of the tail first disconnects the nerves go through a process called vasoconstriction. This stops the blood flow to the open area of the tail that prevents the wound from loosing and blood. Over time the tail will grow back but it is unlikely that it will resemble the original tail in its looks.
If your captive gecko looses its tail it is very important to discover what initially made the gecko drop it’s tail to ensure that they will not suffer any additional stress. The tail will heal itself so no intervention is required on your part, you may if you wish treat the wound with Neosporin to help prevent any infection. You should place the gecko in a separate container in a quite environment to avoid added stress and to prevent any other geckos attempting to feed from the wound.
When a gecko looses it’s tail then they also lose all the stored fat reserves that they had in the tail, thus it is important to feed up the gecko on some fatty foods so they can replenish lost reserves. Remember to still keep an eye on extra food that it not eaten that can easily build up when you are trying to do this.
A gecko without a tail can become the subject of bullying from other geckos that may be present. Signs of bullying are not often too obvious to the owner as it will usually take place at night times. Geckos bully each other by biting either at the legs of the lesser gecko. You should look for any scuff marks that could be showing on the geckos head, sometimes you can clearly see the bite marks but other times it is not so evident, the best you can do is to regularly check everyday and if you notice anything out of place then note it down. Bullies will need to be separated. Sometimes it is the better option to remove the wounded gecko from the tank as opposed to the bully. You can help cut down the chances of bullying by making sure there is a choice when it comes to drinking water and hiding places, this is what fighting will most likely take place over.