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Learn everything you need to know


This book is packed with easy-to-understand information on selecting and setting up a habitat, feeding, breeding, and all other aspects of proper leopard gecko care.

Difference Between African Fat-Tails And Leopard Geckos

The leopard gecko has been the most popular pet gecko for several years, and it is readily available from breeders and pet stores alike.

African fat-tailed geckos also make great pets, but they aren’t widely known and may be more challenging to find.

As a whole, the African fat-tail gecko is smaller with a fatter tail, larger eyes, different patterns, has pickier humidity requirements, and costs more to purchase. Leopard geckos are more popular than African fat-tails, but they have similar personalities, and both are very easy to care for.

It’s tough deciding which one you should get, so let’s dive into more of the details and help you decide. 

african fat tailed gecko vs leopard gecko

African Fat-Tail And Leopard Gecko Differences Broken Down

Here is a quick table breaking down the significant differences and similarities of both geckoes.

Read on for more details after this. 

QualityAfrican Fat-TailLeopard Gecko
Temperature86-88° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) 90-94° degrees Fahrenheit (34° C)
DietSame; insects with calcium supplementSame; insects with calcium supplement
TemperamentCalm personalities, very mellow and easy to handleCalm personalities, curious and active
SizeSmaller with a fatter tailLonger with a skinnier tail
AppearanceLarger eyes; simpler color patternsGreat variety in colors and patterns
AvailabilityRare; $75 for normal typesCommon; $20-40 for normal types

What Are the Differences in Habitat Requirements?

African fat-tail and leopard geckos have similar habitat requirements when it comes to the size of their enclosure. 

It is usually recommended to get a 10-gallon vivarium, but 20 gallons is ideal because it gives the gecko more room to explore.

For both gecko species, it is not advisable to keep two males in the same enclosure, as they will become aggressive toward each other. 

It is usually ok to keep a male and female together, but you will need to monitor them for any signs of aggression, especially if they are getting ready to mate.

Both gecko species rely on external temperature to regulate their body temperature, and they will need to have a temperature gradient in their enclosure with a cool side and a warmer basking area. 

African fat-tails need a basking area with a temperature between 86-88° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), while less require much warmer temperatures ranging from 90-94° degrees Fahrenheit (34° C).

The biggest difference between leopard geckos and African fat-tails is the humidity requirements for their enclosure. 

While African fat-tails are native to arid regions of West Africa, they spend most of their time in a humid hiding place. 

Their enclosure needs to be a humid environment with a humidity range of 70%-80%, compared to a leopard gecko’s lower humidity requirements of 30%-40%.

Both geckos need a humid hide, but African fat-tailed geckos will need to be frequently misted with water to maintain the high humidity. 

They will become very sick if kept in a low humidity environment for prolonged periods of time.

Aside from the temperature and humidity differences, both species will do well with a compact substrate, and neither of them requires any special lighting. 

If you are using a loose substrate, such as a sand and soil mix, be sure to monitor your gecko during feeding time. 

Accidental ingestion of substrate is common, and it may cause impaction.

Are There Any Differences in Diet?

The African fat-tail gecko and leopard gecko are both insectivores, and they will enjoy a varied diet of live insect feeders.

Some excellent choices for staple insects include: 

  • Crickets
  • Dubia Roaches 
  • Grasshoppers
  • Phoenix Worms 
  • Mealworms

For both species of gecko, the insects should be gut-loaded appropriately around 12 hours before feeding time.

African fat-tails and leos will also benefit significantly from having their food dusted with calcium and multivitamin powder supplements.

This is done by adding some of the powder supplements to a plastic bag or container and then adding the insects. 

Gently shake the bag or container to coat the insects thoroughly, and you may also used a light mist of water on the insects, so the powder sticks to them better.

Insects do not provide geckos with all of the nutrients they require for healthy growth, so adding a calcium or multivitamin supplement is very important. 

If geckos do not get enough calcium, they may experience a deficiency. 

A lack of calcium in a gecko’s body makes it more susceptible to metabolic bone disease.

Metabolic bone disease has no cure, and it causes crippling bone deformities, which are usually fatal.

In addition to a well-rounded live insect diet and vitamin supplements, you need to provide your gecko with fresh, clean water every day. 

Use a shallow water dish with sloping sides, so your gecko is able to soak its entire body. 

You may need to change the water several times a day to keep it clean.

Is There a Difference in Temperament?

African fat-tailed geckos and leopard geckos both have a very docile temperament, but African fat-tails tend to be even more mellow than leos.

Because of their mellow demeanor, African fat-tailed geckos are easier to handle, and they tolerate it much better than leopard geckos.

Leopard geckos tend to be more curious and active, and they wriggle and squirm if they are handled too much. 

Because of their curious nature, leopard geckos are also more likely to interact with their owners.

Both species are nocturnal lizards, meaning they are most active at night.

The easy-going nature of both gecko species makes them excellent pets for first-time reptile keepers, and both will form a bond with their owner.

Are There Differences in Appearance?

African fat-tailed geckos and leopard geckos have very similar appearances, but there are a few key differences.

African fat-tails tend to be smaller than leos, and they have short, fat tails, which is how they got their name. 

They also have large eyes, and their stripes and dark colors are very different than the patterns found on leopard geckos.

Leopard geckos are larger in size, and they are usually longer than African fat-tails, with longer tails. 

Because of a genetic mutation, leos carry genes which may cause them to grow extra-large. 

These leos are known as Giants, and while they are not common in pet stores, many breeders produce leos with this mutation. 

Some of the largest leopard geckos grow to more than 12″ inches in length and weigh 170 grams.

Leopard geckos come in an extensive variety of morphs and colors, and there are also several eye mutations. 

These eye mutations change the colors and patterns of a leos eyes and are usually specially bred.

Unlike other types of gecko, such as the crested gecko, African fat-tail and leopard geckos have the ability to drop and regrow their tails as a defense mechanism. 

The new gecko tail is usually very different in appearance from the original tail as it is often shorter and fatter.

African fat-tail geckos and leopard geckos both store body fat in their tails. 

In the wild, they use these fat stores to help them get through their hibernation cycle, known as brumation. 

Brumation differs from hibernation because while the gecko does not need to eat during this period, it will still need to drink water every day.

Geckos generally do not experience brumation in captivity due to having constant warm temperatures. 

If you suspect your gecko is in brumation, you should check the temperature of your enclosure because it may not be warm enough. 

Brumation is not harmful to geckos, but it might be alarming to new reptile owners seeing it for the first time, as they may think their pet is very ill.

Further reading: How leopard geckos use the fat in their tails.

What Is the Availability and Price of Each Gecko?

Leopard geckos are the most popular gecko kept as a pet, so it is only natural they are more readily available than African fat-tails.

Leopard geckos are found in almost any pet store, and at $20-$40, they are relatively inexpensive for a gecko without any morphs. 

A leopard gecko with unique skin color or eye color morph will cost anywhere between $100 to $600. 

A rarer morph is usually only available through breeders, and they may be more challenging to find.

African fat-tail geckos are not as widely found in local pet stores, but they are gaining in popularity among gecko breeders. 

Because they are harder to acquire, the starting price for an African fat-tail is around $75, with rare morphs selling for as much as $500.

Is The African Fat-Tail Or The Leopard Gecko Right For You?

The African fat-tail gecko and leopard gecko are both very easy to care for, and they make great pets for first-time reptile keepers.

Leopard geckos tend to be an easier pet for beginners because they do not have the special humidity requirements of the African fat-tail.

The docile nature of both species is perfect for reptile keepers who want a lizard to bond with them.

The African fat-tailed gecko and leopard gecko have similar lifespans in captivity, with African fat-tails living between 10-25 years and leos living for 10-20 years. 

Whichever gecko you choose will be a wonderful pet for many years with proper care.

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