Reptiles are absolutely extraordinary creatures. They are the closest things in the modern day to look like dinosaurs and when you keep one as a pet, it’s a bit different and more unique than cats or dogs.
One such lizard that is quite popular to keep as a pet is the Leopard Gecko.
The reason they are so popular is that they are quite easy to care for overall and in comparison to other lizards, they don’t require as much maintenance and care.
However, just because they are easier to care for doesn’t mean it’s all easy either.
If you are keeping a Leopard Gecko, you might have noticed that its tail has gotten fat and you might be concerned that it is unhealthy.
The science behind the Leopard Gecko’s tail is definitely something that you should be aware of, and we are here to help you understand why Leopard Geckos have fat tails and what you should do if it’s thin.
So read on to find out everything you need to know!
What Are Leopard Geckos?
Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are a kind of reptile that are native to places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, northwest India, and Iran, but in modern times, they are a popular pet choice.
They don’t require as much maintenance and upkeep as some other reptiles, which makes them perfect for beginner reptile owners.
They usually have the coloring of yellow, and white, and spotted black dots, but they are known to come in many different color variations.
They are quite small, reaching a full length of 8 to 10 inches, which includes their tails. When kept in captivity or as a pet, they can live for up to 20 or more years.
Leopard Geckos are mostly nocturnal and ground-dwelling, so you can expect them to rest during the day and be more active during the night.
Their main way of communication is through their tails, and like rattlesnakes, they are tail rattlers. If you see your Leopard Gecko rattling its tail, this usually means that they are excited to eat or mate.
These small geckos are absolutely extraordinary creatures and they are a really interesting and unique kind of animal to keep as a pet.
Why Do Leopard Geckos Have Fat Tails?
The tail of the Leopard Gecko is one of its most important biological features. As they use their tails to communicate, it is important to make sure that they have good tail health.
If you have noticed that your Leopard Gecko’s tail has become fat, then we are here to tell you that you don’t need to worry about it!
It is actually completely normal for Leopard Geckos to have fat tails, so if yours has a fat tail, this actually means that it is quite healthy!
When the Leopard Gecko’s tail gets fat, you don’t have to stop feeding it as much food and you don’t need to change the way you are caring for it.
A Leopard Gecko’s tail is meant to be fat, and when it happens, it is just doing what its body is meant to do.
If anything, your Leopard Gecko having a fat tail is actually a good indicator that you are taking adequate care of it.
Leopard Geckos’ tails naturally fatten up in the wild, and this doesn’t change if they are kept in captivity.
It is just a natural process that all Leopard Geckos go through and it is a good sign that they are in good health.
Their tails are designed to store fat deposits and even water deposits too, and the tail is simply where they store them.
When a Leopard Gecko’s tail is fat, you can still feed it as you normally would and you don’t have to worry about your Leopard Gecko eating less.
They simply eat however much they would usually need and then they convert that foot into energy to use. If there is any energy left over, it goes straight to their tail for them to use for later.
What To Do If Their Tail Is Thin
So, if a fat tail on a Leopard Gecko is good, and yours has a thin tail, you might be a bit concerned.
The tail of the Leopard Gecko is the best way to determine the Gecko’s health, but if it isn’t fat yet, that doesn’t mean that it won’t ever be.
Sometimes, even if you do cater completely to the Leopard Gecko and give it everything it needs, its tail can still be thin.
If this is causing you to stress, take a look at some of the reasons below as to why your Leopard Gecko’s tail might still be thin.
If you are still concerned after checking off this list, you should take your Leopard Gecko to see a professional.
Your Leopard Gecko Has Dropped Its Tail
This is one of the first things you should check before you start to get alarmed by the thin tail.
When a Leopard Gecko drops its tail, this means that the reptile has actually amputated its own tail, so if it is amputated, it’s not going to be able to have a fat tail at all.
But fear not! Leopard Geckos have the ability to regrow their tails, so if your Leopard has dropped its tail, it’s only a temporary situation.
The reason why your Leopard Gecko has dropped its tail is usually due to stress or improper handling of the reptile.
Stick Tail Disease
Another common reason why your Leopard Gecko has dropped its tail is due to Stick Tail Disease. Now, Stick Tail Disease isn’t technically a disease, it’s actually considered to be a weight loss condition.
Usually, Stick Tail Disease can be caused by a number of things, with some of the most common causes being injury, parasites, and infections.
Other things can cause your Leopard Gecko to get Stick Tail Disease, but the causes we have mentioned are the most common reasons.
When your Leopard Gecko has Stick Tail Disease, its tail will appear dangerously thin and it will be fragile to touch.
Another common thing that causes Stick Tail Disease is Cryptosporidiosis which is a type of parasitical infection that affects the Leopard Gecko’s intestines.
It will cause your Leopard Gecko to stop eating, sleeping, and functioning normally, so if you are concerned your Leopard Gecko might have this, you should definitely seek out professional help as soon as possible.
What Is The Purpose Of A Leopard Gecko’s Tail?
The tail of the Leopard Gecko is one of the most important parts of the reptile’s body.
By now, you know that the Leopard Gecko uses its tail to store extra fat preserves, but what you might not know is that there is actually more than one use for the tail.
If you are curious about what the purpose of a Leopard Gecko’s tail is, then read on to find out a bit more about its uses!
Used For Fat Reserves
When your Leopard Gecko feeds, it usually takes its tail is going to grow fatter.
This is because it is taking the energy of the food it has just eaten and any extra that it doesn’t need is saved and stored up in its tail.
However, what you might not know is that Leopard Geckos do not preserve fat every single time they eat.
They only actually preserve the fats when they have that excess fat and water in their bodies.
Storing fat reserves might also seem a bit pointless for Leopard Geckos who live in captivity, but it is actually a massive benefit to the reptiles.
If they fall sick or have any issues that render them immobile, they will not be able to catch and eat any live feed, so having those fat reserves on standby can actually save them a lot of trouble.
When Leopard Geckos are sick, they generally tend to stay in their enclosure and hide somewhere out of view, and if they have fat tails full of fat reserves, you don’t have to worry about them starving.
The fat reserves can actually save their lives in that sort of situation.
As A Defense Mechanism
Leopard Geckos are quite solitary animals and they actually like to keep to themselves more than they like to socialize.
They even like to just pick a spot in their enclosure and just stay there, and you will not find them exploring the enclosure all that much.
Because they aren’t very social and they like to keep to themselves, Leopard Geckos have evolved to use their tails as more than just a storage unit for their fat preserves.
They also use them as a defense mechanism too.
Leopard Geckos are quite small reptiles and if they were to come across any predators in the wild, they would not really be able to fight them off.
In most cases, they would simply freeze or runoff, but even then, they aren’t very nimble creatures.
The way they use their tail as a defense mechanism is by raising it and then wiggling it in the direction of the predator that is coming towards them.
They do this to make the predator focus on their tail rather than their head.
If the predator were to go for their head, the Leopard Gecko would most likely die, but if it went for its tail, they stand a much better chance of survival.
As Leopard Geckos can drop their tails, this is exactly what they would do in the event of a predator actually pouncing on and attacking them.
With the predator completely focused on their tail, they would wait for them to attack the raised tail and then drop the tail.
This act of self-amputation gives the Leopard Gecko a much better chance of survival and allows it to escape while the predator is focused on the tail.
For smaller animals and reptiles who can’t self-amputate, they wouldn’t be able to get out of that situation in the same way a Leopard Gecko can and it’s an incredible survival tactic that really gives the Leopard Gecko a fairer chance of survival.
Obviously, Leopard Geckos in captivity don’t really have to use this defense mechanism, but if you do see them point their tail up and wiggle it, this is why they are doing it!
How To Protect A Leopard Gecko’s Tail
So now you know just how important the tail of a Leopard Gecko is, you might be wondering how you can better protect it in the future.
There are a few ways you can ensure the safety of your Leopard Gecko’s tail, and we are going to go over a few of the ways now.
As you now know, Leopard Geckos can live without their tails and if they do drop their tail, they will grow back, so if on the off chance this happens, remember not to worry about it too much.
But obviously, you want your Leopard Gecko to keep its tail for as long as possible, so use these tips to keep it protected.
Feed Your Leopard Gecko A Balanced Diet
This will ensure that your reptile is getting all the proper nutrients that it needs and it’s more likely for the Leopard Gecko to have a fat, healthy tail when it has a balanced diet.
Keep Your Leopard Gecko Separate From Other Reptiles
If you are concerned about the well-being and safety of a particular Leopard Gecko and you are keeping it in an enclosure with other Leopard Geckos or reptiles, it might be a good idea to keep it separate for a while.
Leopard Geckos are not very social creatures, so you can do this without causing any stress.
If its tail is currently damaged or has dropped off, this will give it the chance to regrow and repair itself without any distractions too.
Never Hold It By Its Tail
Regardless of if your Leopard Gecko has a healthy tail or a damaged tail, you should never hold it by its tail. This can be incredibly damaging and it will cause your Leopard Gecko a lot of stress.
Keep The Enclosure Clean
This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but it’s important to list this here just as a reminder.
A clean enclosure means that there is less risk of bacteria and infection getting in, which in turn, means your Leopard Gecko is less likely to get infected or sick.
These tips can be applied to Leopard Geckos with thinner or damaged tails, but if your Leopard Gecko’s tail is actually fat and healthy, the best safeguard against dangers is just to leave the tail alone!
Even in captivity, Leopard Geckos have no issues in looking after themselves and their tails, and you do not need to offer any outside assistance in that situation.
Just make sure to keep the enclosure clean and do not hold it by its tail.
Keep feeding your Leopard Gecko a balanced diet, and its tail should stay fat and healthy pretty much indefinitely until it needs to use up the fat reserves.
Another really important thing to be aware of (just so it doesn’t shock you if it happens!) is that Leopard Geckos can get quite stressed, especially in situations where they feel unsafe or in danger.
In these situations, they can just drop their tail due to stress, and it has happened to many Leopard Gecko owners.
If this happens, it’s completely normal, but to avoid it in the future, just make sure you are not stressing the Leopard Gecko out while it’s in your hand!
How To Fatten Your Leopard Gecko’s Tail
If your Leopard Gecko currently has a thin tail and you want to help it fatten up a bit, there are a few things you can do.
Leopard Geckos are biologically designed to be able to store fats and water in their tails, so all you need to do is help it in the right direction if it seems to be struggling.
The biggest things that contribute to your Leopard Gecko’s tail growth is the frequency in which you are feeding them and the variety of feeders you use to feed them.
We will go into a bit more detail about both of these things though, so you can have a better understanding of what you need to do.
Check out some of the suggestions below to gain a better understanding of how you can encourage your Leopard Gecko’s tail to grow.
Make Sure Not To Overfeed Your Leopard Gecko
You might think that when your Leopard Gecko’s tail is thin, the best thing to do is to just feed it as much as possible.
But overfeeding your Leopard Gecko will not help the situation, in fact, in most cases, it will actually make your Leopard Gecko’s health worse.
When the Leopard Gecko eats too much, it can put a serious strange on its stomach and this can lead to your Leopard Gecko and it can struggle to digest its food.
Remember, Leopard Geckos are quite small, so overfeeding can be quite dangerous for them.
It’s more than likely that you are already feeding them the right amount of food, and there could be another issue, such as Stick Tail Disease that is causing them to have thin tails, or they could just be stressed.
Do not immediately resort to trying to feed them more food, instead, switch up the variety of what sort of feeders you are giving to them.
Use A Variety Of Feeders
If you just give your Leopard Gecko one type of feeder, it might be in your and the Gecko’s best interest to bring more variety into the diet.
You don’t need to adjust what time you give them the feeders, nor do you need to adjust how many feeders you are feeding them, but having a varied diet will definitely help your Leopard Gecko’s tail in the long run.
The more variety you offer your Leopard Gecko in the feeders and their diet in general, the more likely they will stay healthy, and this will contribute to them getting a fatter tail.
Most people who own a Leopard Gecko do make the common mistake of giving them feeders that are high in fat, and this can cause the Leopard Gecko to gain too much weight in a small amount of time, effectively rendering them obese.
Being obese is dangerous across all different kinds of animals and reptiles, and Leopard Geckos are no exception.
This is why the variety in the feeders is so important.
You definitely do want to feed your Leopard Gecko feeders that are high in fats, but you also need to make sure that they are eating feeders that are high in protein and essential nutrients too.
A balanced diet will ensure that your Leopard Gecko does not risk becoming overweight and it will keep them healthier for longer.
There are lots of different kinds of feeders and they each offer something a bit different in terms of fats, nutrients, protein, and water.
Some of the best feeders you can give to your Leopard Gecko include Dubia roaches, Mealworms, Crickets, Hornworms, Waxworms, Superworms, Black Soldier Fly Larvae, and butter worms.
Have a look into the nutritional value of each to work out a meal plan that will suit your Leopard Gecko’s needs.
Believe it or not, but Leopard Geckos are actually one of the easier reptiles that you can look after.
Understanding everything about their tails can seem like a bit of a minefield at first, but once you get into the swing of caring for them and you know what sort of signs to look out for, you will find that looking after your Leopard Gecko isn’t too difficult at all.
Remember – fat tails are good, but thin tails… not so much! Use the tips and tricks we have provided here to know what to look out for when you’re concerned about your Leopard Gecko!
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