H. caudicinctus are most commonly known as the African Fat-tailed Gecko and are found throughout Western Africa from Senegal to Nigeria. They are a terrestrial, nocturnal species of gecko that are very easy to care for in captivity and are readily available at reptilian pet shops. African Fat-tailed Geckos can live for upto 15 years in captivity.
Multiple females can be kept within the same enclosure, provided that they are supplied with sufficient food and shelter (see below). Males should not be kept together as they are very territorial, and it is recommended to keep males and females seperate to avoid excessive breeding and territorial disputes.
|Pet Reptile (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus) Care Information|
|Regions Found:||Western Africa from Senegal to Nigeria|
|Longevity:||Can live for upto 15 years in captivity|
|Years to Maturity:|
|Adult Size:||21-25cm (8-10 inches)|
|Housing, Feeding and Climate of Hemitheconyx caudicinctus|
|Housing Size:||15 gallon enclosure|
|Reptile Foods:||Mealworms, crickets, locust, cockroaches, butter worms, silkworms and cutworms|
|Reptile Lighting:||Are there any special reptile lighting requirements?|
|Breeding Hemitheconyx caudicinctus|
|What are the reptile health concerns? Is pet insurance recommended? Is reptile health a common problem?|
|Recommended Pet Supplies for Hemitheconyx caudicinctus|
nb. All of these can be purchased from an online pet store
DescriptionLeopard Gecko, but do not have as many morphs. They usually have a light orange/brown topside with dark, thick, brown bands running across the body, the underside is usually a pale off-white. Some Fat Tails feature a white stripe that runs from the head down to the tail along the centre of it's back.
A healthy adult ranges in size from 210-250mm (8-10 inches), with the males having a larger, stockier appearance.
It's distinguishing feature is ofcourse its fat tail and this is what the animal uses for fat storage. The tail is specially evolved to detach in case of predatory attack, and then has the ability to regenerate. If, for whatever circumstances your gecko does lose it's tail, extra care should be taken to ensure the animal is warm, as it's fat reserves have been severely compromised. The gecko should also be particlarly well fed to to provide the necessary nutrients required for the regeneration of the new limb.
A 15 gallon enclosure is recommended for this species, however, a ten gallon tank with plenty of floor space is sufficient for an adult gecko. Glass tanks are the most practical and aesthetic option, being easy to clean and readily available at commercial pet stores.
The Fat-tailed Gecko's environment does not have to be too high as they are not enthusiastic climbers. Floorspace and features such as fake plants, rocks and a suitable hiding place are the most important components of the habitat. Shelters should be provided on both the cooler and warmer sides of the enclosure so that your gecko can avoid excessive exposure to light.
Be sure to provide ample space within the habitat for a large, shallow water dish, a hiding place and sufficient open space for the gecko to move freely without obstruction.
Orchid bark, cypress mulch, coconut fiber bedding, or peat moss can be used for a substrate and will help maintain humidity. Fat-tailed gecko's like to burrow in a slightly moist substrate to re-hydrate and for this reason a combination of orchid bark with sphagnum moss and a small amount of play sand works well. Vermiculite or rubber gecko mats are also suitable options.
Newspaper can be used however, the ink, although harmless to your gecko will readily transfer onto the body of your pet creating a less than desired affect, especially on albino individuals.
Whichever substrate you choose, you should ensure that they are either specifically designed for use within a reptile enclosure or are properly sterilised. Raw substrates such as mulch can contain mites that can be potentially fatal to a Fat-tailed gecko.
A thermal ground gradient (temperature gradient) is essential because reptiles are unable to physiologically regulate their body temperature for adequate digestion. A gradient offers them the choice of a temperature they require and are comfortable with.
An enclosure for a Fat-tailed gecko should be maintained at between 27-32°C (80.6-89.6°F) during daytime and nighttime conditions should be reduced to around 24-26°C (75-80°F).
Humidity should be maintained between 55-70%, and this can be achieved by misting several times a week and the presence of a large, shallow water dish. Most experienced keepers also suggest that you provide a shelter with a higher humidity than the rest of the enclosure, usually containing a layer of sphagnum moss that is misted daily. This shelter can be sued by the gecko to access a high-humidity environment when required, such as whilst the animal is shedding.
Fat-tailed geckos have no special requirements for UV light, however, a 12 hour day and 12 hour night cycle should be provided. Seasonal changes in the lengths of daylight may be adjusted, especially if you are planning on breeding your lizards. A full spectrum light is not required. The vitamins acquired from sunlight by other lizards must be provided in their diet (see Nutrition).
Fat-tails are nocturnal, so they will be asleep during the day. To view your lizard during its active hours, you can use a dull red light bulb as this colour cannot be seen by the gecko.
Three hides per gecko should be provided. A humid hide and two normal hides at either end of the vivarium, if your vivarium is especially large then more should be placed appropriately. The humid hide should be at the warmer side of the vivarium and should contain a moist medium. Vermiculite can be used as can kitchen roll, sphagnum moss and cotton wool. Ideally the moist medium shouldn’t be vermiculite in case of digestion but does its job well and works well as a laying medium.
Mealworms (not morio) offer a good staple diet as do crickets, locust, cockroaches, butter worms, silkworms and cutworms. It is a good idea to feed a mixture of livefoods so that your gecko will consume a good variety of vitamins from each source.
Waxworms are a larvae that contain high amounts of fat and phosphorus, and they should generally be considered an unhealthy food source for you gecko. The phosphorus inhibits calcium absorption and can be potentially deadly in high doses to a growing gecko as they will develop a severe case of MBD. Geckos have a tendency to become addicted to waxworms and may begin to refuse all other livefoods, despite this, a couple of waxworms per week will make a good treat for a healthy gecko and will not cause any problems.
Gut loading and dusting improve the nutrients passed up the food chain to your reptile. It is necessary to do both to ensure your gecko leads a long healthy life. Dusting should be done immediately prior to feeding but gut loading can be done within 24 hours of feeding. A good gut loader can be homemade or you can obtain commercially available gut-load diets. A good homemade gut loading diet should consist of ground grains (barley, oatmeal, wheat germ and other similar products) and high quality flaked fish food. This gut loader should be fed to the feeder insects prior to feeding to your gecko.
Calcium and vitamin dusting is another way to increase the vitamins your gecko absorbs. For baby geckos it is recommended that calcium dusting is done at least twice a week and for adults at least once per week. D3 dusting should be done once per week or per fortnight, D3 is a vitamin that promotes absorption of calcium but in high doses can be fatal whereas excess calcium will just pass through the system.
Small pinky mice may also be offered to adults occasionally, and gravid females have a particular appetite for these treats.
Depending on the age of the gecko and the size of the food items, he or she will eat daily or every other day with younger geckos eating more often. Any food item bigger than the space between the geckos eyes is too big and will probably be spat out or not fully digested.
A large, shallow water dish should be provided, and this will provide the gecko with all the water it needs as well as help to miantain suitable humidity conditions within the enclosure. Any water source provided should be refreshed daily with clean water to prevent bacterial contamination.
Geckos usually shed their skin every week to every month, depending on age and environment. In pre-shed the gecko will look very dull like it is covered in dust and needs cleaning. While they are shedding the gecko will retreat to the humid hide for a while to soften up the skin and they rub against walls or furnishing to remove the dead skin. Sometimes the vivarium will look like it has been vandalised if your gecko has had a particularly difficult time removing the skin.
After a shed the gecko usually eats its dead skin but occasionally they leave it, this is not much cause for concern unless it becomes a habit. If a piece of skin falls off then the gecko is unlikely to eat it. It is believed that they eat their skin to increase calcium intake and to prevent attracting unwanted predators.
If your gecko has dead skin on its body, especially the toes, you should try to remove it with a wet cotton bud. A good soak in luke-warm water may help. The trouble with skin around the toes is that it can be ignored by the gecko and will build up over several sheds, ending up like an elastic band cutting off their blood circulation.
Handling and taming
A Fat-tailed gecko will quickly become comfortable with its owner. Some quicker than others, it may take weeks or it may take months to earn the trust of your gecko. Firstly try not to grab your gecko unless you have to, especially not the tail or else that will be the only thing you have hold of as the gecko crawls away in severe pain. Grabbing your gecko will give it the impression it’s going to be eaten or similar. Leopard geckos are curious by nature, so if you find that he/she is afraid of your hand you should initially hold it somewhere insight of the gecko to allow him/her to get curious and come to investigate. This may take a few attempts but it is a vital step to earning trust and letting them understand you are not there to hurt them. Remember to be gentle but keep control, any sudden movements to a skittish gecko will send him/her flying – literally. They have this frustrating tendency to take a running jump from your hand without analysing a drop that can be quite serious.