African fat-tailed geckos are a distinctive species of gecko notable for having a fat, bulbous tail. They’re very unique and one of Africa’s most interesting creatures.

These ground-dwelling reptiles originate from West Africa. Their habitat ranges from semi-forested areas to dry savannas.

They have an impressive lifespan of between 10-18 years. However, they can live even longer in captivity. They’re relatively small in size and will grow to a length of between 7 and 9 inches.

These are just a few general facts about this unique lizard species. This list includes even more interesting and incredible information about these fat-tailed reptiles.

1. As the Name Suggests, Their Tails Are Fat

A plump, well-rounded tail on an African fat-tailed gecko is a sign of good health

The most distinctive feature of the African fat-tailed gecko is its tail. This is noticeably wide and thick in shape, with vertical segments running the entire length.

The tail is for fat storage, making it an important energy reserve. They can go days without eating if food is scarce.

If African fat-tailed geckos come under attack or feel threatened, they can voluntarily lose their tails. This is to confuse their predator and allow them to escape.

If this occurs, a new tail will grow back. It will develop even more rounded in shape than their previous tail – to resemble their head. The new tail may have different coloring or patterning than the rest of the gecko’s body.

2. The Thicker the Tail the Healthier the Gecko

You can gauge the health of an African fat-tailed gecko simply by looking at their tail. A thin tail will indicate they’re not getting enough food. It can also be a sign of an illness.

A plump, well-rounded tail on an African fat-tailed gecko is a sign of good health. Since this is where they store their fat, the bigger their tail is, the more access they have to food.

3. African Fat-Tailed Geckos Are Not Social

Hemitheconyx caudicinctus is the scientific name for the African fat-tailed gecko

African fat-tailed geckos are not social. Other than when they’re mating, they prefer to spend their time alone. Even after laying eggs or giving birth, the adults will not stay with their young.

In captivity, female fat-tailed geckos can live in one enclosure. However, males should not be housed together. They are territorial and will fight each other to defend their space.

4. African Fat-Tailed Geckos Have Distinct Patterns

Fat-tails naturally have patterns with brown and tan banding, with a pinkish or off-white underbelly. Some geckos also have a long white stripe that runs the entire length of their bodies.

Through selective breeding in captivity, other pattern variations occur. This can include albino, fully black, and even tangerine-colored geckos.

5. Fat-Tailed Geckos Are Insectivorous

African fat-tailed geckos are insectivorous, meaning they only eat insects

African fat-tailed geckos are insectivorous, meaning they only eat insects. They won’t eat dead insects, only live prey.

The African fat-tailed gecko’s diet consists of a variety of insects: crickets, roaches, mealworms, king mealworms, and silkworms. Most of the insects they consume are no larger than the width of their own heads.

6. These Geckos Can Blink

Most geckos lack eyelids. Therefore, to keep their eyes moist and clean, they will lick them. However, African fat-tailed geckos do have eyelids, which means they can blink.

This enables them to keep their eyes clean in their natural dusty habitat. They are one of only a few species of geckos that can do so.

7. Fat-Tailed African Geckos Aren’t the Best at Climbing

Fat-tailed gecko in its natural habitat

Most geckos have sticky pads on the bottom of their feet, called adhesive lamellae. This allows them to easily climb up structures and even hang upside down.

However, these fat-tailed lizards lack sticky toe pads. Because of this, it is difficult for them to climb vertically.

8. African Fat-Tailed Gecko vs Leopard Gecko

African fat-tailed geckos and leopard geckos are part of the same subfamily, Eublepharidae

They share some similarities. For example, both species have a similar body shape. Both of these types of geckos also have true eyelids which allow them to blink.

However, they have different temperaments. While the African fat-tailed gecko is generally mellow and calm, leopard geckos are more active and less docile. 

9. African Fat-Tailed Geckos Thrive in Captivity

African fat-tailed gecko having a little nap

Fat-tailed geckos thrive in captivity and are common reptile pets. They stay relatively small in size and are docile, calm creatures. Unless threatened, they’re slow-moving. This is partly due to their large tails that make it hard for them to move too quickly.

Because of these features, they are easy to handle and care for. After the initial week or so of settling in, they usually don’t mind humans handling them. They’ll even start to develop individual personalities that you can pick up on over time.

When cared for properly, they can live for up to 25 years in captivity.

10. They Are a Nocturnal Species

African fat-tailed geckos are nocturnal. During the day, they conserve their energy, and usually sleep under bark and rocks, or inside crevices.

After sundown, they’ll go off in search of food. Although they’ll eat a variety of insects, their insects of choice are crickets and mealworms.

The predators of the African fat-tailed gecko are snakes, larger reptiles, and various birds and mammals. 

A Few Last Thoughts on the African Fat-Tailed Gecko

Curious African fat-tailed gecko poses for the perfect shot

The African fat-tailed gecko is among the most incredible varieties of geckos. Hopefully, this list of facts has taught you something new and has helped you to appreciate all of their unique and unusual qualities. 

Luckily, these large tailed lizards are not an endangered species. They thrive in the wild, as well as in captivity. Thanks to their distinctive fat tails, if you do happen to spot one you’ll know right away what you’re looking at.

Considering they are native to West Africa, the best chance of seeing one is by visiting the region. After all, why keep them as pets when they can be observed wild and free, as nature intended?