Why Leopard Geckos Have Fat Tails (Do This If It’s Thin)

why do leopard geckos have fat tails

“I just saw that my leopard gecko’s tail is getting fat, is it becoming obese?” For those who are not that familiar with leopard geckos, you might think that it is time to adjust the diet of your leo, but before you do so, you need to read this first! Is it normal for your leopard gecko to have a fat tail? What about a thin tail?

Leopard geckos use their tails as fat and energy storage, which means that the thicker their tail is the more energy they have stored. An adult leopard gecko with a plumb tail can survive without food for months by using the energy it has stored in its tail.

In this article, we are going to discuss why it is important for your leopard gecko to have a fat tail. We will also give you some tips on how to fatten that tail!

Further, we are going to talk about the dangers of your leo not having a fat tail as well as the telltale signs that your leo might be sick because of a thin tail. So keep on reading!

My Leopard Gecko’s Tail Is Fat – Is This Normal?

It is absolutely normal for your leopard gecko to have a fat tail, so no need to worry if you are feeding it too much and it is causing its tail to bulk up. In fact, if your leo’s tail is fat, this is a sign that you are taking good care of it. So relax!

When a leopard gecko’s tail becomes fat, it is simply living up to the natural design of how the body of a leopard gecko should respond whether in the wild or captivity.

One might think that they will stop doing this fattening of the tail when they are in captivity as there is a wild and consistent array of feeders, that surely, they will not go hungry.

However, as their tails are programmed to welcome fat and even water deposits, their bodies also respond to its natural call to automatically get fat reserves and send them straight to the tail.

Does this mean that they deliberately eat less whenever they eat so they can have fat reserves?

No, they just eat their fill. Their body simply processes the nutrients and fat that they need for the day and as for the excess ones, those are the ones that become fat deposits.

So no need to worry as your leo is not purposely starving itself. Just keep up your feeding schedule.

What Is The Purpose Of The Tail Of A Leopard Gecko?

With everything that we mentioned about your leopard gecko’s tail getting fat, you might think that this is just its sole purpose. Well, for the most part, it is actually the primary purpose of the tail, but there is still another one. Let us discuss both!

The Tail Is For Fat Reserves

This is what we already know, the tail is there so that there is a place for fat and water reserves. As the tail grows fatter, the reserves are piling up. These fat reserves come from the excess fat in their diet.

This means that with every feeding, their bodies do not actually get fat reserves every time they are fed. It is only when they have excess fat or water in their bodies that they can get reserves.

In this way, they can still have the right amount of nutrients and fat in their body while also being able to store reserves in their tail.

You may think that they do not really need this when they are in captivity. But the truth is, it is very handy especially if they fall sick and they cannot catch and eat live feeders.

During the times that they feel tired and just want to stay in their hide, you are assured that they will not starve as they have reserves.

More than that, having either a fat or thin tail can also give you a sign if your leopard gecko is doing well or not. If for any reason, their tail is not getting fat despite the numerous feeders that you are giving them, then definitely something is wrong.

The same goes for the fact that a leopard gecko has an extremely thin tail. This is the biggest sign that it is suffering from something serious.

A leopard gecko’s tail is a very obscure part of its body wherein its current state of health can easily be reflected.

This is a healthy-looking leopard gecko. The body looks still slim but the tail is fat and almost as thick as the gecko’s body at its biggest point.

The Tail Helps With Defense Mechanism

If you are familiar with leopard geckos, you know that they just love to keep to themselves and they do not really go adventuring in their enclosure.

They simply just pick a place and they stay there for hours on end. This is why the second purpose of the leopard gecko’s tail comes in handy.

Given what we said, it is expected for a leopard gecko to probably freeze in the mere sight of a predator when they are in the wild. Their bodies do not have the necessary tools to fend off enemies and they are not that nimble to escape easily.

Well, they have that cute smile. Probably, their prey will be charmed by it? But joking aside, their tails play a huge role in their fight or flight response (mostly, flight response)

What happens is that when a predator comes across the leopard gecko, the latter will raise its tail and wiggle it at the predator.

This is a distraction strategy wherein their goal is to make the predator focus on their tail instead of their head (where they will surely die if they get attacked on the head). So that in the event of an attack, the predator would go for their tail.

This is the exciting part! So let us say the predator is now focused on their tail. The leopard gecko would then drop its tail. Yes, you read that right!

They would intentionally self-amputate their tail so that they will have ample time to scurry away. In general, that is the defense mechanism involving the leo’s tail.

Tail Fact: Leopard Geckos are not arboreal lizards so they do not climb higher areas. Therefore, they do not use their tails as a means of balancing themselves when moving, unlike other lizards.

What Does It Mean When The Tail Of My Leopard Geckos Is Not Fat?

As we have mentioned earlier, it is important to observe the “fattening” of your leopard gecko’s tail because this is the most obvious sign to see if your leo is healthy or not.

So let us say that you have done everything that you can to ensure that your leo is living happily and healthily, but for some reason, its tail is still thin. What can be the problem?

You can check out this video to know other reasons as to why no matter what you do, your leo does not seem to get a fat tail.

Leopard Gecko Has Stick Tail Disease

Stick Tail Disease is not actually a disease per se, it simply refers to the weight loss condition of your leopard gecko which was caused by injury, parasites, infections, etc.

However, the term is apt as what happens with your leo is that it will have a stick for a tail.

Due to immense weight loss, you will see that the tail of your leopard gecko will look dangerously thin. It is as if you can break its tail with the use of the nail of your pinky.

The most common cause of stick tail is Cryptosporidiosis which is a parasitical infection of the intestines.

As it affects the small intestine and the stomach, you can just imagine the problems that this parasite brings to your leo. It will not be able to move, eat, poop, drink, etc. Which will then lead to extreme weight loss, thus having a stick tail.

With that said, when you first see that your leo’s tail is starting to get thin, you need to observe it closely in order to gauge potential problems. Better yet, go to the vet just to be sure as a leopard gecko that has a thin tail is most likely sick.

Leopard Gecko Dropped Its Tail

Another reason your leopard gecko has a thin tail is that it recently dropped its tail. This just means that your leopard gecko deliberately amputated its own tail for some reason.

It is also possible that the drop tail was caused by a stressful situation, like improper handling.

The good thing about leopard geckos is that their dropped tails will regrow. However, it will take some time and extra care for the tails to look like before aka fat and beautiful. They need to allocate time to get those fat reserves again.

Remember earlier when we said that fat stores are not done every feeding? This is why the fattening of the tail takes time. Overfeeding your leo is also not an option as this may cause unnecessary bloating that also has health complications.

So just as long as you can say with utmost certainty that your leo is not sick or suffering from injury, you do not have to worry about it having a thin tail.

Just ensure that as the weeks go by, nothing in its behavior is changing and that the tail is gradually becoming fatter.

If you want more information about tail regeneration of leopard geckos, this video is perfect. It tells of the story of Elia, a rescued leopard gecko on its long journey of tail regeneration.

How To Fatten A Thin Tail Of A Leopard Gecko?

Let us pretend that your leopard gecko is recovering from a sickness or it just had its tail regrow, what now? Is there anything that you can do to help its tail grow back and become fat again? Take a look at the following.

Do Not Overfeed Your Leopard Gecko

Overfeeding your leopard gecko will not take you anywhere. In fact, it may bring more harm than good. In the event that your leo does not reject its feeders when it has already had its fill, and it just keeps on eating, it will put a strain on its stomach.

You might notice that it chose a spot to rest or pseudo-bask. Most probably, in the warmer side of the enclosure. They do this to aid in digestion, especially if it consumes a large meal struggling to digest everything.

This also may end up in impaction which is another problem in itself.

Offer A Variety Of Feeders

You need not adjust the frequency of your feedings. Doing so also constitutes overfeeding, especially if you are giving your leopard gecko the same amount of feeders.

Instead, it is better to give your leopard gecko a variety of feeders. In this way, they can get different nutrients which will further make them healthier.

Remember, the healthier they are, the higher the possibility that with every feeding, fat reserves will be underway.

When fattening a leo’s tail, the common problem is that owners tend to offer their leos feeders that are high in fat.

This is good if your main goal is to fatten the tail, but the problem lies in the fact that the leos are at risk of gaining weight too much in a small amount of time. In human terms, it becomes obese.

When put in this way, you guys know that being obese is not a good thing. You can just imagine that everything that is swimming inside your leo is fat over fat and over more fat. Yikes!

Giving your leos a variety of feeders will ensure that they get proper nutrients. Once their body recognizes that they have more than enough nutrients present, it is only at that time that it will work on getting fat preserves to be stored in the tail.

Take a look at this chart to see what feeders you can rotate in their diet as well as their health benefits.

FeedersWhat They Contain
Dubia roachesProtein (17-22%)
Water (50-60%)
Chitin (3.5%)
Vitamin B (12-15%)
Amino Acids (2-3% based on the percentage of Vit. B)
Calcium (a bit higher than other feeders)
Fat (5-8%)
MealwormsProtein (15-18%)
Fat (11-13%)
Fiber (2.5% based on weight)
Water (58-62%)
CricketsZinc (10-12%)
Fat (4-5.7%)
Potassium (11.18%, regular size)
Calcium (lower % than dubia roaches)
Folate (2.5-4%)
Iron (180% higher than red meat)
Magnesium (1.7% based on size)
HornwormsWater (85%)
Protein (9%)
Fat (3%)
Calcium (4.6%)
WaxwormsProtein (14.28-15%)
Fat (25-32%)
SuperwormsWater (50-60%)
Protein (23%)
Fat (21-30%)
Black Soldier Fly LarvaeProtein (17.5-20.12%)
Amino Acids (12% relative to fishmeal)
ButterwormsProtein (13-15%)
Fat (15-20%)
When choosing your feeders, make sure that fat is not always the focus. Concentrating on fat makes it difficult for your leo’s body to utilize nutrients for its everyday activities. Leading to its body disregarding the need to store fat. Note: Even though some feeders have calcium in them, it is still needed for a calcium supplement to be dusted on them.

How To Protect The Tail Of A Leopard Gecko?

The number one full-proof way not to harm the tail of your leopard gecko is not to handle it too much. I know this can be a bit bothersome especially if you are someone who likes to hold your leo, but just think about their welfare.

If you really must handle your leo, make sure that you exercise all safety precautions.

By now you know that leopard geckos will live a normal life even with the absence of their original tail. But keep in mind that their new tail will be thinner and even shorter than their original tail.

So in order for its tail to stay healthy until it grows back completely, you can do the following tips.

  • If the leopard gecko is housed with other leos, it is best to keep it separate from the rest. In this case, it can rest completely and just focus on regrowing its tail rather than worrying about its companions.
  • Do not hold it by its tail.
  • Make sure that the enclosure is always clean. It is important to not let any bacteria infect the regrowing tail.
  • Feed your leopard gecko a balanced diet.

Let us say your leo already has a fat tail. Are there any safeguards that you can do? The thing to do is very simple, just leave its tail alone.

They are a pretty hardy species so even though there is some sort of pressure on their tail, it will not immediately drop.

However, it is vital to not stress your leopard gecko when handling it. So be gentle with your leo and do not fuss too much with its fat tail.

If you annoy it to the point of stressing it out, you might just be surprised that you have a broken tail on your hand. (The stuff nightmares are made of!)

Conclusion

The fat tail of a leopard gecko is the biggest sign that your leopard gecko is healthy. They store fat reserves in their tail and in some cases, water too! The fattening of your leo’s tail is totally normal and actually encouraged, so no need to worry.

When dealing with a leopard gecko that is recovering from illness, it is vital to feed them a balanced diet and not just concentrate on fattening the tail by overloading fat.

This is counterproductive in terms of fattening the tail and will cause more problems to your leo in the long run.

2 Comments

  1. Hudson August 3, 2021
    • Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team August 24, 2021

Leave a Reply