Fat Tailed Gecko General Information:
The African fat tail gecko (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus) is native to the West African region from Senegal to Northern Cameroon. Adults can obtain a length of 8 to 10 inches. Fat tails are a terrestrial animal which means they are ground dwellers. Being nocturnal they are most active at night.
Fat-tails are very easy to house. A pair (1 male and 1 female) can live comfortably in a 2 foot x 18 inch vivarium but larger is always better. Most breeders use some kind of rack system. Substrate – The best substrate to use is paper, newspaper, paper towel, slate, tile or packed eco earth. I suggest not using sand at all as the gecko may become impacted and their environment needs to be more humid which sand consistently doesn’t provide. Impaction is when the gecko ingests sand which can build up and block the intestine. When keeping them on these substrates you must provide a humid shelter. If you’re looking for a more naturalistic look packed eco earth (coconut fiber) works well. Never use cedar or pine shavings. These are toxic to reptiles.
Hides – In order for the gecko to feel secure in its enclosure provide several hiding places. These can be as simple as inverted plant saucer pans, plants, wood etc. It’s a good idea to put a hide on both the warm end and cool end of the cage. Heat & Light – Provide a hot spot of 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm end with the cool side of the cage in the mid 70’s. It is very important to provide a temperature gradient for the animal. This is basically having a warm end and a cool end that will allow the animal to regulate its own body temperature. We recommend using a infrared heat bulb controlled with a thermostat.
Handling – Fat tails are by far one of the tamest geckos I have seen, even more so than leopard geckos. When holding any animal it’s best to take it slow. When you first acquire a new animal don’t hold them for several weeks to several months depending on the individual. This will allow them to adjust to their new environment. Once they have calmed down gently hold the gecko by letting it walk across your hand as it is inside the cage. Once the gecko is familiar with you, you can take it out and hold it. Remember that too much handling too fast or too rough of handling can cause stress on the animal. Another thing to remember is to never grab the tail! If threatened, the tail will detach. Many reptiles are capable of this defense mechanism. It will grow back but will look nothing like the original.
Fat Tailed Gecko Feeding
Fat tails are insectivores and the most common items used in captivity are crickets, mealworms, superworms, silkworms and small cockroaches as a staple diet. The occasional pinkie mouse (only a few days old) and waxworms can be given as a treat. Pinkie mice should only be given to full grown adults and are excellent for breeding females. Not all individuals will eat them but the majority prefer them live. Feed waxworms sparingly as they can become very addictive to geckos and not as healthy because they are very fattening. Gutloading – Make sure to gutload all food items for 24 hours prior to feeding. Gutloading is feeding very nutritious/high quality foods to prey prior to feeding to your animals. These can include but not limited to fruits, vegetables and grains. There are also many commercially available products that are in powder form. I make and use Pro Gutload for all my feeders. Gutloading will ensure a healthier insect and in the long run a healthier gecko. Remember your geckos are what they eat.