Fat-tailed Gecko

Hemitheconyx caudicinctus

Order: Squamata

Family: Eublepharidae

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • A 10 gallon aquarium can house a pair of geckos. Multiple female geckos can be housed together or can be housed with a single male.  It is very important to never house two male fat-tailed geckos together as males will defend their territory through aggressive fighting that can cause serious injury.
  • Lighting, Temperature and Humidity
    • African fat-tailed geckos should be exposed to light for 10-12 hours per day but because they are nocturnal they do not require a UVB light.
    • 90F on warm side, with gradient to 70s to low 80s
  • Shelter: nocturnal so shelters within their enclosure will provide them with a peaceful retreat to sleep or hide in.
    • Place a dry shelter close to the heat source with a moist hide placed at the cool end.

Diet Requirements

  • crickets and/or mealworms
  • They may also readily accept silkworms, waxworms or pinkie mice, but these food items should only be given as a supplement as they are high in fat content.

Veterinary Concerns

  • It is important to always take great care when handling a gecko and it is important to never hold or constrain a gecko by its tail. The tail of a fat-tailed gecko will detach as part of a defense mechanism called caudal autotomy. If your gecko does drop its tail, it will grow a regenerated tail, but it will have a different appearance than its original tail.

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

  • Extra care should be taken when handling any gecko so as to assure they do not get startled and “drop” their tail. Geckos exhibit tail autonomy and have specialized muscles in order to break their tail off and run away from a potential predator. While the tail can regrow, this is a stressful process, and should be avoided if possible.

Potential Messaging

  • Many regions of Africa including the Congoand the island of Madagascar are extensively mined for coltan and other minerals that go into cell phones, tablets, and computers. Natural habitat, frequently in areas that are legally protected, is lost for wildlife, trees and topsoil scraped away. In addition, toxins from discarded electronics leach out of local landfills and contaminate waterways here at home. Please ask guests to think twice before replacing their electronic devices and to recycle their old ones when they do. http://www.houstonzoo.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Why-should-I-recycle-my-cell-phone.pdf
  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters. http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/Images/PetWalletBro2012.aspxhttp://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/pets/index.html

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

  • Woodland Park Zoo: Very easy to work with, socialize quickly.
  • Zoo New England, Stone Zoo: easier than a leopard gecko – more docile to handle

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Western Africa, ranging from Nigeria to Senegal.

Physical Description


Life Cycle

When cared for properly fat-tailed geckos have been known to live for 15-20 years in captivity.



Threats and Conservation Status


Did you know…





Contributors and Citations

Cover Photo: AJ, African Fat-tailed gecko – Stone Zoo

  • Nancy Romanik, Education Program Manager – Zoo New England, Stone Zoo
  • Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters
  • Reptiles Magazine