African Fat Tailed Gecko

Why African Fat-Tailed Geckos Bite? (What To Do If Bitten)

African fat-tailed geckos are small nocturnal and docile creatures that have greatly interested people who would love to pet reptiles. Their ability to respond well in a captive setting and openness to human handling and touch make them ideal for petting. However, they may occasionally bite, but it’s nothing to worry about if they do.

African fat-tailed geckos bite if they feel threatened, or they might accidentally bite your hand while you’re feeding them. If bitten, you should disinfect the wound and bandage it immediately to prevent infection. 

So, let’s talk about African fat-tailed gecko bites. I’ll teach you why they might bite and help you understand what to do and what not to do if you get bitten. 

African fat-tailed geckos bite people when they are afraid or if they accidentally mistake you for a snack. They also bite the back of the neck of females during mating. In turf wars, male geckos may fight, biting on each other for dominance. 

The African fat-tailed gecko only bites as a last resort when engaging in a turf war. In most cases, before biting, a gecko will vocalize and wag its tail vigorously at another infringing gecko male. However, this biting is limited to male gecko fights, so it’s unlikely that one of these lovable reptiles would try to attack you. 

In addition, these Geckos bite the neck of a female during mating seasons to put the female in position.

So, for the most part, when a gecko bites, it is directed at other geckos. 

However, if you’re trying to hand-feed the gecko, it may mistake your hand for food, causing a bite. 

Thirdly, if you try to pick up your gecko when it feels threatened, it may bite. 

Even in its natural habitat, the African fat-tailed gecko is nocturnal and very anti-social. As a result, any encounter with it could lead to aggression or biting if you try to pet it or approach it when it wants to be left alone. 

Also, harming or hurting an African fat-tailed gecko may cause the creature to bite you in self-defense. This is a rare occasion since most pet owners want to gain the trust of their geckos, but if you ever harm yours, it won’t forgive you quickly. 

Further, restraining the African Fat-tailed gecko may cause the creature to bite. Still, it’ll only lash out when it feels afraid and wants to go back into hiding. So, if you hope to maintain a good relationship with your pet, it’s best just to let it go back into its enclosure.  

When the African fat-tailed gecko undergoes shedding, typically every 3-4weeks, they go into hiding since they’re most vulnerable when they are in the shedding process. If you attempt to touch or disturb this gecko while it’s undergoing shedding, it may bite you in self-defense.

African Fat-Tailed Gecko Bite Prevention Tips

It’s a good practice to avoid hand-feeding these geckos. That’s because, over time, a gecko can start associating your hand with feeding times, increasing the likelihood that it’ll mistake your finger for a snack. Instead, use a pair of forceps to place feeds in the cage. This practice maintains a distance between the gecko and your fingers, minimizing accidental bite incidences. 

Also, avoid touching it with your hands when the gecko seems scared. If you try to touch a timid gecko, it may perceive the touch as a threat and instead bite you as a defense mechanism. 

You can identify a threatened gecko by looking at its tail movement. Commonly, a distressed gecko will arch its back and raise its tail vertically while looking sharply in the direction of the perceived threat. 

It would be wise to withdraw if your gecko shows these signs. Then you can try to handle it again later when your gecko feels less threatened. 

When your African fat-tailed gecko is undergoing shedding, don’t interfere with or attempt to touch your pet. AFTGs have sensitive skin when shedding, so they will try to defend themselves more, occasionally resulting in a nip. 

What To Do If Bitten by an African Fat-Tailed Gecko?

Even though African fat-tailed geckos rarely bite, they’re instinctive creatures, and occasional bites are feasible. Still, it’s calming to know that bites from these lizard species aren’t fatally poisonous.

However, wild geckos are more prone to spreading oral bacteria and pathogenic fungus when they bite, usually transmissible to humans. Therefore, these gecko bites can lead to infections if unattended.

In case of a gecko bite, disinfect the area with antiseptic or antibacterial soap to kill potential pathogenic bacteria passed from the reptile’s mouth. If the bite broke your skin, it’s advisable to cover it with a bandage to minimize the chances of an infection. 

So, always treat the gecko bite with an antiseptic to prevent infection and adequately dress it. In case of any worsening symptoms, consult a medical doctor.

What Not To Do if Bitten by an African Fat-Tailed Gecko

There are several things to avoid when an AFTG bites you. 

First, do not postpone disinfecting the bite. Neglecting to dress the punctured skin could result in an infection, which will be more challenging to treat later. So, always disinfect the gecko bite as soon as it happens, regardless of how tiny the wound appears. 

When a gecko bites you, don’t drop it or toss it away, even if you feel shocked. An aggressive or violent reaction may only lead to additional bites from a scared gecko. Therefore, avoid handling African fat-tailed geckos when they seem unfriendly or after an initial aggressive encounter with the creature.

Like with any argument, get some space and allow the gecko to cool off before trying to handle it again. 

Final Thoughts

The African fat-tailed gecko is a docile and non-aggressive creature. Still, African fat-tailed geckos may bite or display aggression if they feel threatened. 

Additionally, the gecko can bite if you interfere with it during the shedding process. Therefore, any attempts to touch the vulnerable gecko will lead to the risk of gecko bites. African fat-tailed geckos may also bite their owners during feeding, mistaking their caregiver’s hands for food. 

These bites are non-poisonous, but it’s a good practice to disinfect them with an antiseptic when they occur.


Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

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