How To Hold Your AFTG And Do They Need Attention?

Though perhaps not the most common companion, African fat-tailed geckos are increasing in popularity, with many people begging to purchase the friendly amphibians to compliment their homes and office spaces. Adopting these cute creatures often comes with many questions: Can I hold my African fat-tailed gecko, and do they need my attention?

You can hold your African fat-tailed gecko. When young, African fat-tailed geckos aren’t particularly friendly, but after repeated attempts, they’ll become socialized to you and allow you to hold them. However, AFTGs don’t need personal attention from their owners to thrive.

African fat-tailed geckos can make great companions and are greater starter pets but do require some work to maintain and keep healthy. Read on to learn more about African fat-tailed geckos and how you can care for them.

Can You Hold AFTGs Without Hurting Them?

You can hold African fat-tailed geckos without hurting them, and as long as you’re gentle, they won’t hurt you, too. Though they may be shy at first, these geckos, once socialized, often love to interact with their owners. 

How To Properly Handle an AFTG

Though you can hold and handle an African fat-tailed gecko without causing harm to yourself or the gecko, doing so requires a few important considerations.

Here are the most important tips to holding an African fat-tailed gecko:

Allow the African Fat-Tailed Gecko To Climb On/Off You

Though African fat-tailed geckos will eventually allow you to hold them, they’re often squeamish at first and shy. If this is the case, don’t pick up your African fat-tailed gecko. Instead, let it climb slowly onto your hand at which point you can take it out of its habitat. Doing so will let the gecko get used to you.

After the AFTG has adjusted to you, it’ll be more likely to play and climb on you. This also means that you should be careful not to make sudden movements that might accidentally flick it off of your body. When handling your gecko, move slowly and be sure to remember your size in comparison to theirs.

Do Not Squeeze Your African Fat-Tailed Gecko

African fat-tailed geckos are small, somewhat delicate creatures. Just like small birds or other small animals, they’re weak in comparison to the strength of human hands and human fingers. Squeezing your gecko too hard can cause serious health problems, and can even cause it to bite you out of self-defense. Use a gentle touch, and never squeeze your AFTG.

Be Careful Not To Drop Your African Fat-Tailed Gecko

As mentioned previously, African fat-tailed geckos are small and relatively weak. This is especially true regarding their legs. A fall from even a small height can cause your gecko serious bodily harm.

If African fat-tailed geckos are dropped from a high place or are flicked off of your hand by accident, they can be seriously injured by the fall. They’re about 9 inches (22.86 cm) tall, meaning that a fall from even just 4 feet (1.22 m) high would be equivalent to a human falling about 32 feet (9.75 m). Be sure not to drop them!

Do Not Hold Your African Fat-Tailed Gecko by the Tail

African fat-tailed geckos are unique from most amphibians in the fact that they lack most of the self-defense mechanisms common to the animal group. They have a unique self-defense mechanism known as caudal autonomy in which they’re able to shed their tails in cases where they’ve been chased by a predator which has latched onto its tail. 

This defense mechanism means that, if held by their tails, African fat-tailed geckos may instinctively shed them. If you’re holding your gecko only by its tail, it can fall and hurt itself. It’s very important you don’t hold them by the tails to prevent this! 

Do AFTGs Need Attention From You?

African fat-tailed geckos aren’t your typical kind of pet. Dogs, cats, and other mammals require a lot of personal attention, play, and interaction. How do these geckos compare?

African fat-tailed geckos don’t need attention from you in the sense that they need someone to play with and receive love from. AFTGs need only enough attention as is required to ensure that they’re fed, have water, and are kept warm enough. 

The best way you can show love to your African fat-tailed gecko is to keep its environment safe and warm and ensure it’s well fed. Your gecko doesn’t need personal attention like a dog might, but it does need you to pay close attention to its habitat. 

African fat-tailed geckos are cold-blooded, meaning that they move their bodies to warmer and cooler temperatures in order to regulate their body heat. They survive best in temperatures between 70°F (21.11°C) and 90°F (32.22°C). In the warmest part of their enclosure, the temperature should remain around 90°F (32.22°C) and about 70°F (21.11°C) at the coolest part.

These temperatures can be difficult to regulate. It requires a lot of attention to ensure that their climate is kept at correct temperatures and that they’re eating enough.

Final Thoughts

African fat-tailed geckos can make for a great companion in your home or your office. Smart, calm, and friendly, they’re relatively easy to care for and require only a small, enclosed space to live in. 

Though you can hold an African fat-tailed gecko, it might be shy, and you must hold it in a safe way. While AFTGs don’t require a lot of attention in the original sense of the word, keeping them happy does require some attention.


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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