The Differences Between African Fat Tails and Leopard Geckos

Leopard Gecko
Leopard Gecko

The Battle!

I've seen quite a few people asking about "African Fat Tailed Geckos VS Leopard Geckos". While I don't think it is entirely right to say which is better, it definitely is a very viable questions. Visually, Leos and Fat Tails are quite similar, and to new keepers, can be easily confused. There are seems to be a few behavior differences as well. The biggest difference between Leos and Fat Tails is their required husbandry. Many people wrongly believe that Fat Tail geckos can be kept the same as Leos, or vice versa. If you are stuck between which species to get, please stay tuned!

Husbandry Requirements

Leopard Geckos and African Fat Tailed Geckos actually are two different species and originate from different regions.

Leopard Gecko - Eublepharis Macularius; arid, high desert mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and India

African Fat Tailed Gecko - Hemitheconyx caudicinctus; scrublands of Western Africa, from Cameroon to Senegal

Leos and AFTs require similar enclosure size. A 10 gallon minimum is a generally recommended minimum, with 20 gallons being ideal. Both species thrive when kept singly, though males can be kept with females. The males of each species can NOT be kept together. Another thing to note is that many people have noticed that their AFTs seem to drop their tails quite easily. Like most any reptile, both geckos rely on thermoregulation. They need a hot side and cool side in their enclosure. Both species are mostly nocturnal and need belly heat via heat tape or a heat pad, not an overhead lamp.

Leos require slightly higher "hot side" temperatures (90-94F), while AFTs prefer things a bit cooler (86-88F). One of the biggest differences between these two species is that AFTs require higher humidity. Leos and AFTs both need a humid box, but AFTs will benefit from misting every few days. In fact, AFTs kept in low humidity like Leos need can get quite ill.

As for diet, and other care, they are very much the same. Both species are strict insectivores and enjoy a varied diet. Compact substrate is best for both of them, and they require no special lighting. They both shed every 2-3 weeks on average. Though AFTs have few differences in care compared to Leos, they will greatly suffer without those key needs.



African Fat Tailed and Leopard Geckos both have excellent temperaments. However, AFTs seem to be much more mellow, and even wild-caught adults seem to tame down nicely. AFTs seem to tolerate handling better, even as babies, and may make better pets in that aspect. Leos are more active and inquisitive.

All in all, Leos seem to be more interactive with their owners but squirmy, while AFTs are more mellow and easy to handle.

African Fat-Tail Gecko
African Fat-Tail Gecko

Physical Appearance

Leos and AFTs are pretty similar in overall appearance. AFTs are a bit more pudgy looking in their body and tail. They move more slowly and while not as long as Leos, are stockier. They also have bigger eyes, and smaller feet. Leos and AFTs have different patterns as well. Most AFTs have banding. Leos come in more color morphs and to some are more aesthetically pleasing.

Speaking of morphs, in general AFTs are more expensive since they aren't as commonly seen as Leos. However, rare Leo morphs are more expensive than a normal AFT. In turn, AFT morphs can get pretty pricey since the gecko themselves are more expensive than Leos.

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Comments 1 comment

Cat 19 months ago

I love AFT I have one myself and his name is Pickle, he is about 4 years old, he is a rarer morph, bright yellow and a bright purple tail, purple feet, and an orange stripe down his back, he is VERY tame I tamed him myself he will sit on my shoulder and he allows me to put him in the costumes I get him, they are actually pretty hard to keep if you work all the time because they won't get tame if you don't work with them(-: not great pets for children if not tame, even though I am 12 I have lots of experience

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