African fat tail gecko, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus

African fat tails are a great choice for those looking for something a little different

At a glance...
  • African fat tail geckos make an extremely interesting pet
  • Can be skittish but usually tames down well
  • A great choice for beginner and intermediate keepers
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Do African fat tail geckos make good pets?

African fat tails are adorable little geckos hailing from West Africa where they inhabit humid burrows in arid grassland habitats. These geckos get their name from their chunky tails where they store excess fats, which is a highly beneficial trait particularly in periods where food sources may be difficult to find.

African fat tail geckos are usually quite skittish, although with enough time spent with them they can tame down quite well and will tolerate handling. All of our African fat tail geckos are captive bred in the UK, meaning you can rest assured your gecko came from a reliable source with minimal environmental impact.

If you're looking for an alternative to African fat tail geckos, we recommend looking into Leopard Geckos, by checking out our Leopard Gecko care sheet, or snakes, like the Western hognose snake.

What size enclosure does an African fat tail gecko need?

Despite being nocturnally active and mostly inhabiting burrows in nature, African fat tail geckos require a good amount of space to roam during the night when they are awake. At Swell Reptiles we recommend a minimum adult enclosure size of 90 x 60 x 60cm (3 x 2 x 2ft), for example, the VivExotic Viva+ Terrestrial Vivarium Medium makes a good choice.

If you choose a wooden vivarium like this, it is important to seal the inner joins with a vivarium sealant to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing the wood to warp. One way around this is to use a PVC or glass enclosure, with the Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 90x45x45cm not being a bad choice at an absolute minimum.

What heating equipment do I need for an African fat tail gecko?

As with all reptiles, African fat tail geckos are ectothermic and cannot control their own body temperature, so rely on external heat sources to do this for them. Due to this, their captive environment needs to provide them with a thermogradient that goes from warm to cool from one end of the enclosure to the other.

African fat tail geckos do best with a basking temperature between 30-32°C (89-98&degF) and a cool end temperature of around 22°C (71°F).They are a burrowing species, so heat mats should be avoided. Overhead heating systems such as basking lamps or ceramic heat emitters work much better to warm the ambient temperature in the larger enclosures that this species requires.

All heating equipment should be attached to a compatible thermostat to maintain the required temperatures and ensure their safety. If you decide to use a basking lamp, a dimming thermostat is required, whereas if you use a ceramic heat emitter, a pulse thermostat is required.

Do African fat tail geckos need to have UV?

Although they are nocturnal in nature and like to burrow, African fat tail geckos should still be provided with a source of UVB, giving them a UVI between 2-3. This will ensure they are able to metabolise vitamin D3 so that they can properly utilise the calcium taken in from their diet, preventing serious illnesses such as metabolic bone disease.

The percentage of UVB required depends on how high the light fixture will be from the gecko's highest basking point. To get the required UVI for an African fat tail gecko, an Arcadia ShadeDweller ProT5 Kit can be used between 25-40cm (10-15”) from the basking area, or an Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Forest 6% can be used between 40-45cm (15-18”) from the basking area.

What type of substrate does an African fat tail gecko need?

African fat tail geckos should be given a thick layer of loose, moisture-retaining substrate such as coco soil or Arcadia EarthMix. Not only will this help to keep the humidity up, but it will also provide them with a good burrowing opportunity. A drainage layer of Hydro Rocks topped with Hydro Matting underneath the substrate should also be considered, particularly if live plants are being used as this will prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.

How do I decorate an African fat tail gecko’s vivarium?

At least two hiding areas and plenty of cover should be provided for an African fat tail gecko to give them a safe space anywhere along the thermogradient within the enclosure. This can be done using traditional reptile caves, cork bark flats, rounds or half rounds and foliage either from real or artificial plants. Other items such as natural reptile decor, rocks, vines and branches can be provided for enrichment and to enhance the overall look of the set-up. It is a good idea to move decor around from time to time to help keep things interesting for your gecko, and even for yourself.

What do African fat tail geckos eat?

African fat tail geckos are insectivorous, so should be fed a diet solely made up of livefoods including crickets, locusts, cockroaches and calci worms. To ensure all of the nutrients your gecko requires are provided in their diet, all livefood should be dusted with supplements according to a schedule.

For this species we recommend using a calcium-rich multivitamin on every feed, such as Arcadia EarthPro-A, a calcium plus magnesium supplement on every fourth feed, such as Arcadia CalciumPro Mg and finally, a vitamin D3 supplement on every eighth feed such as Arcadia EarthPro RevitaliseD3.

How do I buy an African fat tail gecko?

If you are interested in adopting one of our UK captive bred African fat tail geckos, please come down to our superstore and speak to us. We will ask a few questions and will also ask to see some images of a suitable set-up, already with the required temperature and humidity parameters and adequate lighting. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

For more detailed husbandry information, please see our African Fat Tail Gecko Care Sheet.

Common names African fat tail gecko, AFT
Scientific name Hemitheconyx caudicinctus
Country West Africa
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 22cm (8")
Natural habitat Arid grassland in humid burrows
Housing 90 x 60 x 60cm (3 x 2 x 2ft)
Ideal temperature 30-32°C (89-98°F) (warm end); 22°C (71°F) (cool end)
UVI 2-3
Ideal humidity 50-60%
Diet Insectivorous
Average lifespan 15-20 years
Personality Skittish but can be tamed
Ease of handling Easy-moderate
Cohabitable No
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  1. African fat tail gecko, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, care sheet
    Categories: Care sheetsLizards

    African fat tail gecko, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, care sheet

    African fat tail gecko, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, husbandry guide from the experts at Swell Reptiles, covering housing, heating, lighting and more.