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AFRICAN FAT-TAILED GECKO Caresheet
Common Name: African fat-tailed gecko
Scientific Name: Hemitheconyx caudicinctus
Origin: West Africa
Size: 8-10" males being the larger
Lifespan: 10-25 years
You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
African fat-tailed geckos are terrestrial in nature. So you want an enclosure that has more ground space than height. Adults can live in a 20 long enclosure or an Exo Terra 18" x 18" x 12". That size can house 1-2 adult fat-tailed geckos their whole life. Groups of 1 male and 1 female or all females work well. If you do a trio you will want a bigger enclosure, like an Exo Terra 24" x 18" x 12". Trios are 1 male, 2 females or 3 females. If you have more than one adult males in an enclosure, they will fight. It's also important to keep your aft (African fat-tailed) geckos similar in size. Don't house a baby with an adult. If one is significantly larger than the other, the smaller one usually ends up being bullied by the bigger.
For a loose substrate, you can use eco earth. Alternatively you can use a solid substrate like the exo terra sand mat, moss mat, or regular paper towels.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Aft geckos are hardy little guys. Being nocturnal, they usually sleep in a hiding spot during the day and are active at night. UVB lighting is not necessary for these geckos. You'll want to turn any daylight off at night. Your afts warm spot should be kept at 88-90 degrees during the day. They are comfortable with the rest of the tank being daytime temperatures of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras digital thermometer. It's OK if the temp drops to the low 70s at night, as long as you still have a warm hide for them to go in.
The easiest way to get your gecko a warm hide is to use an Exo terra or Zoo Med heat pad. It should be placed underneath the tank, with the hide inside positioned on top of it. Always have part of the tank cooler so your gecko can regulate its own body temperature by moving from one to the other. The side without the heat pad is where the humid hide will go. It's a second hide but with moist sphagnum moss inside. This is necessary for your gecko to shed properly. You can also use damp paper towels but they do dry out faster. Whatever you use, keep an eye on the moisture in your humid hide and remoisten when needed.
You should only have to mist your enclosure a couple times a week. This depends a lot on how dry your part of the world is. They do need a water bowl to drink from. Flukers rock dish is a nice naturalistic non-porous water bowl, or Exo terra's bowls are nice too.
Afts typically eat crickets or mealworms. You can also try other bugs such as dubia roaches, phoenix worms or small hornworms. Let the crickets loose in the enclosure for your pet to hunt. Place any worms in a shallow dish so they can't hide under anything which would make it more difficult for the gecko to find. The insects should be "gut loaded" with a high quality gut load such as flukers cricket diet or Natures zone cricket gut load. Alternately, you can feed your crickets dry oatmeal and carrots or other leafy greens.
When you are ready to feed your gecko, dust the bugs with a calcium powder. When using regular reptile calcium, dust the bugs every feeding. If it's a multi-vitamin, then do once a week. Repashy Calcium Plus is a combo of calcium and multi vitamin and can be used instead at every feeding.
Afts are naturally calm and they tolerate quite a lot of handling. Give your pet a few days to settle in to its new home. Then start slow with handling and gradually increase the amount of time until it gets used to being held. Babies like to wiggle and have little bursts of energy. To help calm a wiggly one, use your hands like a treadmill. Just put one in front of the other. The gecko will get tired and should calm down after a few minutes. Your aft should feel more comfortable being handled after a few times. Never pull on your geckos tail or it could end up in your hand. Afts can naturally break off part their tails if they are trying to get away from a predator (or you). Once dropped, your gecko's tail will grow back, but it will never look the same.