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Why Are Leopard Geckos’ Tails Fat?

Why Are Leopard Geckos’ Tails Fat?

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leopard geckos have become popular pets in North America. They’re native to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

If you’ve recently obtained a leopard gecko, then you’re probably having a good time taking care of it. These geckos have a very interesting look and their tails are particularly interesting to look at.

You might be wondering why leopard geckos have such fat tails. Is there a reason why a leopard gecko’s tail needs to be so fat?

Read on to learn more about leopard gecko tails and why they’re fat when compared to other types of geckos. You’ll wind up knowing a lot more about leopard geckos overall and it’ll make it easier to appreciate them.

Leopard Gecko Tails Store Fat

The first thing to know is that leopard gecko tails are fat because they’re designed to store fat. A leopard gecko stores a certain amount of fat in its tail so that it can use it when necessary.

In the wild, leopard geckos will be able to use their tail as a sort of reserve. If the leopard gecko needs energy and it isn’t able to find food for a while, then it can live off of the fat that is stored in the tail.

The concept of leopard geckos storing fat in their tails makes them somewhat similar to camels. Camels store fat in their humps in an effort to boost survival odds, and the leopard geckos are doing the same thing with their tails.

A leopard gecko’s tail is going to look a lot fatter than the tails that other geckos have. It’s part of its distinctive look that helps it to stand out among other similar lizards.

How Long Can a Leopard Gecko Survive Using the Fat in its Tail?

Now that you know the purpose of the fat tail, you’re likely wondering just how much it helps the leopard gecko. If a leopard gecko is unable to find food, then how long will it be able to live on the fat that is stored in its tail?

Assuming that you’re dealing with a healthy adult leopard gecko, it’ll be possible for it to survive one month. Some leopard geckos might be able to live longer than a month without a meal depending on how much fat is stored in the tail.

This is very impressive even if you assume that a leopard gecko would die after a month. Being able to survive that long on only the fat that is stored in its tail is quite useful.

Having a survival mechanism such as this will make a huge difference. It makes it so that leopard geckos can survive problematic situations that would kill other lizards.

Of course, a leopard gecko is going to need to find food eventually no matter what. If the leopard gecko continues to fail at finding food, then its tail is going to look a lot thinner as it runs out of fat.

A leopard gecko that has used its fat stores in its tail will have a tail that looks like a standard gecko tail. The tail can become fat again, assuming that the leopard gecko is able to find food so that it can start storing fat in the tail once again.

Gecko Tail Waving

Have you noticed that your pet leopard gecko waves its tail back and forth sometimes? There are actually different reasons why a gecko might move its tail around.

Sometimes you’ll notice that leopard geckos raise their tails while they’re hunting. A leopard gecko might wave its tail slowly back and forth before shaking it quickly as it moves in to take the prey.

Tail waving isn’t always a sign that a leopard gecko is about to go on the offensive, though. It can also indicate a defensive posture.

When a leopard gecko is waving its tail in an almost hypnotic fashion, it’s an indication that it’s being defensive and feels that it might have to defend itself soon.

You’ll often see this occur when two male leopard geckos are in close proximity to each other. It isn’t a good idea to raise two male leopard geckos together, and you should separate the geckos if you notice raised tails and tail waving.

Tail movements such as this can occur when a leopard gecko is scared, too. If you have done something to frighten your leopard gecko, then it’d be best to leave it alone for a while so that it can calm down.

A leopard gecko is more likely to bite you if you try to pick it up when it seems agitated this way. These geckos don’t bite people often, but they will do so if they feel scared or threatened.

What About Tail Rattling?

Tail rattling is a bit different because it’s something that leopard geckos do when they’re trying to mate. A leopard gecko will rattle its tail when it’s excited and trying to attract mates or indicate interest.

The tail rattling winds up looking similar to what a rattlesnake does. It’s interesting to see, and you might notice this if you’re raising a male and female leopard gecko together.

Leopard Geckos Can Amputate Their Own Tails

Did you know that leopard geckos have the ability to amputate their own tails? As useful as having fat tails can be for the leopard geckos, it’s also important to be able to escape predators.

If a predator has a gecko by the tail, then it’s possible for a leopard gecko to escape. It can detach its tail at any time and it won’t even cause a leopard gecko to lose much blood.

The leopard gecko drops its tail by contracting muscles that are located between certain bones in the tail. The tail goes off and the leopard gecko is free to escape from a predator.

Blood loss is kept to a minimum because the leopard gecko can contract and close off to stop the bleeding. This is all very interesting from an evolutionary perspective.

Losing its fat store will be a major blow to a leopard gecko, but it can grow back in a few months. Regrown tails might not be quite as impressive as the original tail, though.

Often, a regrown tail will be stubbier than the original fat tail that you’re used to seeing. Hopefully, your pet leopard gecko will never feel the need to drop its tail.

Final Thoughts

A leopard gecko has a fat tail because it stores fat in its tail. This is an important survival mechanism that can help a leopard gecko to survive when food is scarce.

Healthy adult leopard geckos might be able to live for a month or longer just on the fat that is stored in the tail. It gives leopard geckos a chance to ride things out while they get to a better place where they can find food.

It’s possible for leopard geckos to amputate their own tails when they’re in a pinch as well. If a predator grabs a leopard gecko by the tail, then it can amputate the tail by contracting certain muscles and get away.

The tail will grow back, but it might not be the same as it was before. Leopard geckos use their tails for many things and they are even important for mating rituals.

Now that you know more about leopard gecko tails, it’ll be that much easier to appreciate why they’re so fat. These are interesting pets that have evolved to survive in many different ways.

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