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Why is a Leopard Gecko’s Tail Fat?

Ever wondered why Leopard Gecko’s have a fat tail? Me too, thats why I put together this article to explain exactly why they have this. I will also break down what their tail is used for and some weird things they do with it for fun and survival.

Why is a Leopard Gecko’s tail fat? Because they store fat in their tail. This fat is effectively reserved to keep them alive for periods when they have no food. They can live a long time without food because of this fat tail.

So, now yo know why their tails are so fat, but what is the purpose of their tail? What other things can they do with it that benefits them? Well these are the things that I will be explaining in this article to help you understand just this.

What is the purpose of a leopard geckos tail?

Fat Storage

In this section I’m going to explain to you what is the real purpose of the leopard geckos tail is. Primarily it us used as a way to store fat reserves. The reason this happens is because it’s a preventative measure to stop it from starving if it has large periods of time without having any food.

As an example, you can expect a leopard gecko to last anywhere from 70 to 100 days without eating. This is as long as it’s tail has been properly preloaded and stored with the required fat reserves.

Defencse Mechanism

Another purpose of the tail is to prevent it from being attacked or even killed by a Predator. So, in this situation the leopard gecko will raise its tail and wave it towards its predator. Almost tempting the predator to attack the tail.

The idea is to stop the predator attacking its head, which could effectively mean it would be killed in this situation. The predator is coaxed into attacking the tail, giving the Leo the chance to drop his tail (literally breaking his tail off). This happens instinctively, allowing the Leo a swift getaway.

So what happens when a leopard gecko drops its tail?

In this section I’m going to explain to you exactly what happens after a leopard gecko loses its tail (will it die? click here). In the previous section I explained that after being attacked it is likely to drop its tail. Once the tail is dropped it needs to eat a lot of food.

This is to make sure that it keeps itself alive and rebuilds its fat reserves. This is quite a stressful time for the Leo, and obviously you want to avoid this happening to your lizard in the first place.

Can “Stick Tail” affect your leopard gecko?

Before I explain the affects of “Stick Tail”, let me first explain exactly what this is. “Stick Tail” is a physical condition, when your leopard gecko is losing body mass. Basically your Leo may seem to be losing weight, almost like it is starving, are you with me?

It is quite a  confusing thing actually, it can appear to be a disease, and sometimes quite hard to detect. It mainly affects leopard geckos, crested geckos and also fat tailed geckos.

If you notice that your Leo is losing weight in the tail area, this is an indication that it is a losing weight throughout its body. This is not actually a disease it is a indication of a bigger issue that is manifesting in the leopard gecko.

Be warned, it is possible that the leopard gecko can die if it is not looked after, if it has this condition.

A common cause for this condition is Cryptosporidium, which can manifest in the stomach and cause major problems. Leopard Geckos with this condition are quite hard to diagnose. It is also quite hard to get rid of once it is there.

What is Leopard Gecko tail waving?

So as discussed earlier, tail waving is away for the leopard gecko to prevent itself being attacked. It basically waves its tail at the Predator to make them lose focus on its head.

Which makes the predator attack the tail, rather than the head. If you have more than one Leo see one of them waiving its tail in this way, it is a good idea to separate them. Because there is a good chance that they will be fighting.

What is leopard gecko tail rattling or shaking?

This behaviour is noticeable when a Leo is excited (Click here to see if Leopard Geckos can see color). For example, if male sees a female. This rattling or shaking of the tail can be done by a male or female. However, during mating this behaviour is mainly seen by the male gecko.

Related Questions:

Where are leopard geckos originally from? They are originally from low-temperature areas of Asia, Afghanistan or northern India. in these low temperatures they are forced to dig burrows and keep them self warm. This is when they typically brumate (more on this in the next section).

Do leopard geckos go into brumation? Yes, brumation is a reptiles equivalent of a mammals hibernation. It typically happens to reptiles that are 1 years or older. During this time their metabolism slows down.

You may notice that your lizards will be very inactive,  not really eating, and not very active at all . You will notice that they may not move much at all during this time. It is nothing to be concerned about, unfortunately some people get worried that there is something wrong with their lizard.

It is just nature’s way. All that you can do is make sure that there is enough water available for them in the event that they need it.

One thing to look out for during this brumation period is their weight. If they appear to be losing a lot of weight during this period it could mean that they have another issue such as a parasite problem.

It is a good idea to deworm them, before brumation,  to prevent this happening in the first place.

What is a healthy leopard geckos tail size? You can expect the leopard gecko to reach anywhere from 8 to 10 inches in length. This includes the size of the tail. Obviously this can vary quite a lot, depending on the leopard gecko. You have and a number of different factors, however this is a good guide.

How Often Should a Leopard Gecko Shed its Skin? Adults will usually shed its tail once a month. However juveniles will shed their skin more regularly than this. They are expected to consume their own skin after shedding, so you shouldn’t need to intervene unless they have some issues with their shed.

Can you give your Leopard Gecko a bath? Yes, but it is not encouraged. It should only be done if you have been explicitly asked to by a qualified vet, or if your lizard is in an extremely dirty condition. The problem is if you do this, there is a chance that its skin can become dry and cause it some discomfort.

How can I tell if my Leopard Gecko is male or Female? It can be quite hard to determine this. But the answer is the preanal pores. These pores are on a male and female, but are more noticeable on a male, therefore, if you know what you are looking for, this is a great way to tell them apart.


Hi, this is me with my daughter and my Lizard friend. I hope you enjoy my research. Please feel free to check out my "About Me" page to find out more about me.