Question: I have recently purchased an African Fat-tailed Gecko and was told to keep it the same way as you would keep a Leopard Gecko. I just want to make sure that this is the correct advice, thanks! Hennie Jones
Answer: Hi Hennie. I must say that yes, you can keep an African Fat-tailed Gecko the same way as you would a Leopard Gecko with one exception: they require higher humidity levels than the Leopard Gecko. There are just a few things to keep in mind when working with this species, so let’s take a look at their basic care requirements.
Fat-tailed Geckos are related to Leopard Geckos, in that both species have true eyelids. Fat Tailed Geckos are shyer than their spotted cousins, and are somewhat slower-paced than Leopard Geckos as well. The African Fat-tailed Gecko is found in West Africa from Senegal through Ghana and Togo all the way over to Cameroon and inhabit savannah habitat, rocky hillsides, river edges, and scrubland.
If you are keeping one or only a few geckos then a simple glass tank will be ideal, if you are considering keeping many of them a racking system will be better suited. In order for your African Fat-tailed Gecko to thrive you will need basic requirements within the enclosure, which are heat, substrate, shelter and water/minerals. Heat is best achieved using a heating pad, which can be purchased at most pet stores nowadays. This heating pad will just need to be plugged in and placed under one side of the enclosure. Try and make sure that the area of the enclosure where the heat pad is, is maintained at 32°C and the cooler end should be around 24 – 26°C. African Fat-tails are nocturnal and therefore don’t require any special UVB lighting; if you have lighting in your enclosure make sure it is off at night for 12 hours. You can house African Fat-tails in groups of three females to one male. Never house two males together as they will fight aggressively and can cause serious injury to one another.
For a substrate something that easy to clean such as newspaper or paper towel is recommended. This might not look the best but it is the most effective substrate for maintaining a hygienic environment at all times. Sand might be appealing to the eye but is not a good substrate to work with for these geckos. It is hard to keep clean and there is also the risk of the sand impacting their digestive track if they ingest it.
As the African Fat-tail is nocturnal and fairly shy it is important that they have a shelter to hide in during the day for sleeping and shelter. It is best to have two hides: one dry and one moist. A moist hide is best achieved with a small plastic container with a lid with a hole cut in it just big enough for your gecko to get in. Inside the container you can put a layer of moist sphagnum moss. This will be the humid hide, which will aid them when it comes to shedding. Then another simple hide can be placed on the other end of the cage, which will just provide them with something to hide under during the day.
An essential part of maintaining good health in African Fat-tailed geckos is calcium. Calcium ensures proper bone development and overall health. This, along with fresh water, must be available at all times and provided in shallow dishes.
Feeding is very straight forward and can be the same as a Leopard Gecko, with a basic diet of mealworms, superworms and crickets, along with a supplement every now and then of a pinkie or silkworm. So overall they are kept in very similar ways to Leopard Geckos and just need the higher humidity requirements. They are amazing little geckos and are fast gaining popularity. I am sure they will catch up to the closely related Leopard Gecko: enjoy!
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