You are probably reading this now as you have seen countless pictures of tailless crested geckos. Hopefully, you are not reading this as your crestie just lost its tail *crossed fingers* If that is the case, will your crestie be okay? Do you need to stop reading this and just run to your vet? Before you head out, give this a read while you collect yourself.
Crested geckos drop their tails as a flight response. When they feel that their life is threatened, they drop their tails to distract predators so they can easily escape. They can also drop their tails due to stress, injury, and even stuck shed. Unfortunately, their tails do not grow back.
So there is really a possibility that your crestie will drop its tail. The next question is, is it going to be okay? Do you need to do something to ease its pain? Is it in pain in the first place? We have a lot to cover so keep on reading!
Table of Contents
Why Do Crested Geckos Drop Their Tails?
Crested geckos drop their tails for many reasons, but we can categorize it into three major reasons. There are still other unforeseen reasons why crested geckos drop their tails, but just to ease your mind, let us look at the following.
Defense Mechanism Of A Crested Gecko
In the wild, it is easy to conclude that crested geckos are not at the top of the food chain. In fact, they are easy prey. Therefore, the main defense mechanism of crested geckos is the flight response, and this is where their tails come into play.
Once a crested gecko feels immense stress or it feels threatened, it would then intentionally drop its tail. Why? So that the focus of the predator will shift to the wiggling tail and in turn, the crested gecko can make a quick getaway.
Do they just drop their tails when they are about to be attacked? Not necessarily. Some crested geckos drop their tails by the mere sound of a pouncing predator.
There are also cases where they initially see a predator from afar and they automatically drop their tails and make a run for it, even though the predator did not see them in the first place (oh, poor paranoid cresties)
What is interesting about the dropping of the tail of a crestie is that the tail does not just drop. Once it drops, it will rapidly wiggle.
This intense motion is what catches the predators off guard as its purpose is to take away the attention off of the fleeing crested gecko. 100% of the time, the creepy wiggly dropped tail distracts the predator.
The dropping of the tail of a crested gecko is considered normal, especially when it is done due to a defensive response. Only when the dropping of the tail is caused by some other factors, it is viewed as abnormal. Nevertheless, the dropping of the tail does not harm your crested gecko.
Dropping Of Tail Due To Stress
If we humans suffer from hair loss due to stress, crested geckos suffer from tail loss. Definitely, there are a lot of reasons as to why your crested gecko feels stress. We are not exaggerating as cresties have been branded as “geckos that lose their tail for absolutely anything.”
Whether that statement is fact or myth. One thing is for sure, the stress in cresties is not inherent, rather, they are induced. Therefore, you only need to nip the bud of the stress so that your crestie will not drop its tail.
Here are the possible reasons for stress in crested geckos:
Cresties are skittish and even though they can be trained to get used to handling, it does not mean that they are completely comfortable with the whole ordeal especially if the handling is incorrect. If they feel that their body is not supported enough, you might just see a dropped tail on your hand.
Wrong Temperature and Humidity Levels
It is tricky to calibrate the perfect temperature and humidity levels of a crested gecko enclosure as they prefer higher temperatures and also high humidity. But at the same time, they can also suffer from heat stress and dehydration.
A sign that something is wrong with the temperature is pacing and lethargy. They can drop their tails while pacing near the glass of their enclosure.
No Sleep Cycle and Improper Diet:
It is a given that your crestie will become stressed if it does not get enough sleep and does not have a proper day and night cycle.
On top of that, if it is not getting the proper nutrition, you are just days away from finding a dropped tail. Usually, a drop tail occurs when a crestie that is not used to handling is disturbed from its sleep during the day and forced to do handle training. Remember, they are nocturnal.
Illnesses and Diseases:
The presence of illnesses can really take a toll on your crestie’s body. Although the chances of a tail drop due to illness is rare, it can still happen.
Sometimes, the usual climb of a crestie is disrupted due to it being uncomfortable with its own body (lethargy sets in and they are no longer that active) so it drops its tail to remove unnecessary weight.
Physiological Conditions Leading To Tail Drop In Crested Geckos
There are those instances where the current state of your crested gecko contributes to the tail drop. You really do not have anything to worry about when it comes to normal crestie activities. It is a bit concerning when there are external factors that may lead to injury and stress.
Crested Gecko Has A Stuck Shed
This rarely happens, but the possibility is still there especially when your crestie is so agitated by the stuck shed on its lower body and tail. When the stuck shed is severe, they tend to scratch their body against rough and humid surfaces in order to rid of the old skin.
However, some cresties who are already distressed tend to rub roughly against surfaces and when they do not succeed in removing the stuck shed on their lower body, they tend to drop their tails so as to cause a break in the shed that will enable them to wriggle the excess skin smoother.
Again this is extremely rare, but for some owners who have witnessed this, they discussed that their cresties were completely unbothered by the drop tail due to stuck shed and they were more than happy to shed the skin on their lower body once it had a tear at the point of breakage of the tail.
Crested Gecko Suffered From Injury
It is almost a given that if your crested gecko suffers from a serious injury, it can drop its tail as a reaction to the shock of the injury. Keep in mind that even though cresties tolerate handling, they can be skittish and jumpy, so there is always a possibility that they can fall off your hand.
Lucky for some, they do not splat on the floor. However, they are still left with injuries wherein you have to take them to the vet just to see if there are any serious issues.
For owners who have experienced this, some observed that when they try to scoop their cresties from the ground, that is the time when they drop their tails.
A lot of people speculate that it can be due to the stress of coping with the fall and they try to brace themselves again with the hand that is about to get them from the floor. Unfortunately, there are still no studies about this so everything is just speculation.
Further, they can also get injured when they are housed in groups. They might have encountered a fight and in the process, their toes and tails got injured. Usually, if the injury is on the tail, they just drop the tail altogether.
Is My Crested Gecko In Pain When It Dropped Its Tail?
The good news is: For the most part, the dropping of the tail does not cause pain to your crested gecko. YAY!
A lot of researchers concluded that in terms of the tail drop in crested geckos, it is as mundane to them as walking. So you do not have anything to worry about. This has a lot to do with how their tails are designed.
The tails of crested geckos were made to break at a fracture point. You can think of it as perforated paper wherein they already have an outline on the point of breakage and one just needs to add a bit of effort for it to give way.
So when this fracture point is broken, the blood vessels in the area automatically constrict so that blood loss is prevented. So cool, right?
Keep in mind that this does not mean that they will not bleed. Slight bleeding may occur, but it should stop after a while.
Do The Tails Of Crested Geckos Grow Back?
Unfortunately, the dropped tails of crested geckos do not grow back. So once they drop their tail, they will remain tailless for the rest of their lives.
This is what they call frog butt as what is left on their body is just a stub. Again, no need to worry about anything because the dropping of the tail for crested geckos is normal and they will continue on to live normal lives.
Just as long as there are no other problems surrounding the healing of the tail, then they can eventually adjust to life without their tail. At first, their balance may be a bit off when they are climbing, but they will adjust accordingly in just a matter of days.
Do Crested Geckos Eat Their Dropped Tails?
No. They do not eat their dropped tails. If you can remember, earlier we discussed that the main purpose of the dropping of the tail is a defense mechanism where they distract the predators with their tails.
So once they drop their tails and it is seen wriggling around, they do not think twice about anything, they just automatically scurry away.
Stopping to eat their tail defeats the purpose of dropping it in the first place. Therefore, doing so is next to impossible.
However, there are weird cases where owners belatedly saw that one of their cresties dropped their tail. But upon rummaging and even tearing apart the enclosure, they cannot seem to find the tail. So the only conclusion is that their crestie ate their tail.
This is a possibility if there are other cresties inside the enclosure wherein another crestie ate the dropped tail of its fellow crestie. But it is unlikely that the crestie that dropped its tail would also eat it.
Whatever the case may be, the rule of thumb is to remove the tail from the enclosure as soon as you see it. There are still not a lot of studies regarding this, but some owners say that the components of the tail can contribute to impaction when eaten by a crested gecko.
What To Do If Your Crested Gecko Dropped Its Tail
Here are some things that you can do when your crested gecko dropped its tail.
Do not panic.
Panicking would only cause additional stress to your already stressed crestie. If you did not see the dropping of the tail firsthand, then chances are, your crestie already calmed down for a bit so you can check around the enclosure to look for the dropped tail. You should remove the tail from the enclosure.
Transfer your crested gecko to another enclosure.
If it is housed with other cresties, then it is best to separate it from the others. You can use paper towels as substrate. This is done so that nothing will stick to the open wound so that it will not be irritated or infected. Just be mindful as your crestie may eat the paper which can cause impaction
Leave the wound alone
You do not need to put anything on the wound as it will heal by itself. Just keenly observe the area so you can immediately see if there is a problem with the healing process. The things to look out for are abnormal inflammation, constant bleeding, and formation of pus.
Do not hold your crested gecko
You should leave it alone for 10 to 14 days or until the wound is completely healed. During this time, you should try to provide an environment that is stress-free so as to hasten the healing process.
Consult your vet
If it seems that the wound is not healing properly, you should immediately consult your vet. Some owners suggest adding Neosporin or an anti-bacterial cream on the wound, but we do not suggest doing this as there are other owners who shared that applying these creams made the wound worse. So to be sure, consult your vet first.
Are There Instances When You Need To Force A Tail Drop In Crested Geckos?
Yes, there are instances where forcing the tail of a crested gecko to drop can benefit your crestie and may even enhance their lives.
This goes without saying that you as an owner, should never forcibly remove the tail of your crestie, rather you should let a professional do so.
Floppy Tail Syndrome
This is what happens when the tail of your crestie flops off to the side or over the head when it is in a downward position. Usually, this is caused by calcium deficiency. For others, the cause is the usual sleeping position of cresties where they tend to always face down.
Whatever the cause may be, it can become a problem rather than a cosmetic issue especially when the pelvis and the hips of your crestie twist with its tail.
This can cause injury to your crested gecko. For female geckos, this can lead to their eggs being stuck during laying.
If you have observed that Floppy Tail Syndrome is causing a hindrance to the regular activities of your crestie, it is time to say goodbye to the tail.
Another fancy term for this is a necrotic tail. This happens when there is an injury to the tail and the tail is simply not healing.
This will then start to spread to other parts of the body which can lead to decay. There is a possibility for hip and leg deformities when there is a necrotic tail left unchecked.
Usually, tail kinks are not a serious matter as sometimes it is a result of slight injury or even tail bites from other cresties. However, it can be dangerous if the tail kink is affecting the movement of your crestie.
If this persists, your crestie may fall during its climb which can then lead to more dangerous situations. Another thing to look out for is the presence of a necrotic tail on the tail kink.
As we have mentioned previously, this case can spread to the entire body.
How To Prevent Tail Loss In Crested Geckos
Tail drops really cannot be helped especially if your crested gecko just decided that it needed to drop its tail. You can only hope to give your crestie a peaceful life so as not to make it feel threatened to ever think of dropping its tail.
This goes to show that you should not feel bad if a tail drop happens because it is simply the way it is.
Take a look at these tips:
- When you first get your crestie, give time for it to adjust to its surroundings before even attempting to handle it.
- If your crestie is outside its cage, do not make sudden movements so as not to startle it.
- Make sure that loud noises are kept far away from the enclosure of your crested gecko.
- If you are housing crested geckos in one enclosure, be mindful of bullying. Once you notice that a particular crestie is being bit by others, separate it immediately.
- You should mist from a distance especially if you still have baby cresties.
- Always check the temperature and humidity levels of your tank.
- Be careful with handling your crestie. They should not be shocked by the sudden rise of height when carrying them from one place to another.
- If you take your crestie outside its cage and it is showing signs of stress like tail wiggling, shaking, or slithering, take them back swiftly but calmly to its cage.
Final Words And Some Quick Crested Gecko Tail Loss Facts
The dropping of the tail of a crested gecko is normal and it is usually done when they feel threatened, frightened, or stressed. There are even times when they just drop their tails with no explanation.
Bottom line is, you should not kick yourself when this happens to you. We are sure that you are doing everything that you can to give your crestie a happy and healthy life. Sometimes, these things just happen.
But what you can do is to ensure that your crestie is back to its stress-free state as well as making sure that the wound is healing properly.