Leopard geckos make for adorable little pets. They are native to Pakistan, India, and the deserts of Afghanistan, and can live up to 25 years old!
Their bodies tend to be a shade of yellow, and they have black spots that run along their entire length, hence their name, leopard geckos.
They are only small lizards, measuring from 8 to 10 inches in length, and their easy care and docile nature make them a great option for first-time reptile parents.
One of the most interesting aspects of this reptile is its tail. Their tail serves many functions, some of which are crucial to their survival!
This article is going to discuss 5 interesting facts about their tails, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with when you welcome one into your home.
1. Waving Tail
A leopard gecko will normally wave its tail while it is hunting. Although this is more common in younger lizards, adults do it too.
As a leopard gecko is following its prey, it will normally raise its tail up high, and them wave slowly back and forth. Then, it may shake its tail slightly before launching itself toward its prey.
Another reason for waving their tail is defensiveness. If a leopard gecko waves its fail forward and back very slowly, it can be seen as a warning.
They may be doing this in the presence of other lizards and is a common occurrence between two males.
If you notice this happening with two of your own geckos, you should separate them immediately before harm is done.
2. Tail Rattling
Like rattlesnakes, leopard geckos will sometimes rattle their tails.
While this is normally a warning when it comes to rattlesnakes, in leopard geckos it is more a sign of excitement.
If these geckos rattle their tails when they are hungry and see food nearby, they may be excited to eat.
They may also rattle their tails as part of a mating ritual.
3. Self Amputation
These geckos are pretty small, and cannot fend off their predators by force as other reptiles can.
Leopard geckos are prey for several larger animals, so they have had to develop other forms of defense mechanisms.
One of these is their ability to detach themselves from their tail as a form of self-amputation. While it sounds very unappealing, it can save their lives in a number of threatening situations.
The way this works is that there are spaces between the bones and the tail of the gecko, and these spaces coincide with a divide between two muscle segments.
If the gecko decides to contract these muscles voluntarily, it will then be able to wriggle away, separating itself from its tail.
While the word ‘amputation’ may have you imagining pools of blood and gore, the amount of blood that is involved is minimal in this process.
This is because the other muscles in the area contract in order to close off the blood vessels. This, in turn, controls the amount of blood that gets released.
Once the tail has detached, it will continue to move around on the floor, and this works as a great distraction for predators while the gecko runs and hides away.
When the coast is clear, the gecko will often return to the area where it separated itself from its tail.
If it managed to find its tail, it may eat it in order to replace the fat stores lost.
This self-amputation process is stressful and takes a lot of energy from the little gecko, so consuming its amputated tail will replenish the energy it needs in order to grow a new tail.
4. Tail Regeneration
While self-amputating its tail is a great defense mechanism, it is a one-hit-wonder.
Once their original tail has been lost, a new tail will grow back within several months, but it will never be the same as their original tail.
This new tail will not have a bone, and it may appear stubby, and bulbous.
They will also be unable to self-amputate this new tail, as it no longer contains a bone.
5. Fat Store
If you look closely at a leopard gecko, you’ll notice their tails are rather fat.
This is because their tails serve as fat stores that provide the reptile with energy if they cannot find enough food around them.
This is why a gecko is likely to eat its own tail after self-amputation, as its tail carries a lot of its energy.
Consuming this detached tail, helps them regain the energy they lost when losing it.
How Long Do The Fat Stores In Its Tail Last?
If an adult gecko is fully grown and healthy, it could continue to live for a month without a full meal, using the fat stored in its tail.
However, if you have a pet leopard gecko, this should never be used as an excuse to not feed it appropriately.
This fat store is used as a survival mechanism when they are in the wild, and when food sources are hard to find.
Fun Facts About Leopard Geckos
Now that you’re aware of the different facts about a leopard gecko, here are some fun facts about the reptile in general!
They Eat Their Shedded Skin
Leopard geckos shed skin periodically just like other reptiles do. However, these little guys stand out from the rest, as they eat their own shedded skin!
This is done as a form of protection to deter predators, as the eaten skin won’t be able to be left as a scent giveaway!
They Make Sounds Such As Barking
These lizards will make certain sounds in order to express how they are feeling.
They make clicking noises, screams, chirps, and squeaks, but one unusual noise they make resembles a barking sound.
When these lizards are happy, they’ll make a squeezing noise, which can happen when you handle your beloved gecko.
If they are unhappy, you may hear a bird-like chirp. This can also happen if they are scared. If they feel threatened, they may emit a clicking noise, that can sound rather odd.
A scream or screeching noise will be heard if your lizard is stressed or feeling threatened.
Being aware of the different noises will help you bond with your little animal, as it is their way of letting you know what it is they want, and how they’re feeling.
They Change Color As They Age
As their name suggests, these little lizards have adorable little spots scattered all over their body. However, as they age, these spots disappear, and they become almost one color.
When they reach full maturity, they look very different from when they were babies, and these changes begin to occur after their first shed.
Beware of breeders who will tell you that the leopard gecko they are selling will always look as it does as a selling tactic.
These lizards will always change appearance no matter what!
Their Gender Is Determined By Temperature
Leopard geckos do not have a sex chromosome that leads to the gender they become like humans do.
Their gender is determined by temperature! If it is 90 degrees Fahrenheit, most of these geckos that are hatched will be male.
If it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, most will be female.
If the temperature lies between both of these, at 85 degrees Fahrenheit, then half of the eggs will be female, and the other half will be male.
They Don’t Have Sticky Pads On Their Feet
Many geckos are known for being great climbers as they have sticky pads on their feet, so they can stick to all kinds of vertical surfaces.
Unfortunately, leopard geckos aren’t able to do this because they lack the sticky pads that many other geckos have.
Instead, these little guys have claws. These allow them to climb on rocks and branches, but they won’t explore too high.
Therefore, if you ever come across a gecko climbing a wall, you know it isn’t going to be a leopard gecko!
To conclude, the tail of a leopard gecko is very interesting as it has many uses.
It acts as a fat store for the lizard and provides it with energy in case it cannot find food.
It also serves as a defense mechanism since it can detach itself, and grow a new tail within a few months.
We hope this article has provided you with a good insight into the tails of leopard geckos!