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Do Geckos Lose Their Tails?

February 8, 2021
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As a new gecko owner, you will likely have heard tales about tails; in short, that they fall off. This can be pretty scary as a new pet owner and you will likely be concerned about whether this is true and whether it is dangerous for your pet.

The good news is that while geckos do 'drop' their tails, this isn't harmful to them. Geckos will typically drop their tails when they feel scared or threatened but this is completely natural and the tail will grow back.

Even so, it can be a little scary if your gecko does drop his tail. But knowing more about this phenomena and what it means for your pet can put your mind at ease. So, let's take a closer look.

Why Has My Geckos Tail Fallen Off?

Let's get one thing straight; a gecko won't drop its tail unless it really feels like it needs to. Geckos have this ability because it helps them when they are in the wild, especially if they are targeted by a predator.

Geckos are small lizards and are on the menu for a lot of animals. Snakes, birds and some types of spider will actively seek out geckos for their lunch so these little lizards needs a good defence mechanism.

Where some animals may spray toxins, some may bite and others may simply run away, the gecko has a much more innovative and creative way to throw off predators. He will drop his tail. In short, this means that it will fall off.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this means sure death for the gecko as it would bleed - a lot. But the opposite is, in fact, true.

Inside the tail of the gecko there is a piece of connective tissue that is naturally designed to break away from the main body of the gecko. If he needs to drop his tail, this won't cause any harm to him. What's more, a gecko won't just let his tail go for anybody, he really does need to feel as though there is no other way.

In captivity, it is unusual for geckos to drop their tails unless they feel very threatened. If your pet has lost his tail, you should think about what was happening at the time.

Most pet owners will experience an unexpected tail drop if they handle the gecko too tightly when he is trying to get away. If he feels as though he should, he will drop his tail to escape. This can also happen if owners make the mistake of picking their gecko up by the tail.

Do Geckos Tails Grow Back?

If your gecko has dropped his tail, you will likely be very concerned that this new body shape is for life, but the good news is that geckos are able to grow their tails back.

You should keep in mind that when your pet regrows his tail, it is likely that it will not be exactly the same as before. Typically, the new tail will be a lot shorter than the original and may have a blunter end. You might also notice that the new tail is slightly different in colour to the rest of the gecko.

Will My Gecko Become Sick If He Drops His Tail?

While dropping their tail may not cause any immediate physical problems since the body is designed to work in this way, your gecko might suffer a degree of stress from the event that caused the tail drop.

Stress can affect geckos in a negative way, much the same as it would in humans. However, there are things you can do to make the experience as comfortable as possible for your pet.

How To Help My Gecko After HIs Tail Has Dropped

When a gecko drops its tail in the wild, the still-moving tail provides a very successful distraction to the predator which gives the gecko time to getaway. Hopefully, in captivity, a gecko wouldn't have such a significant threat and therefore, would have no need to flee.

However, it is important to assess the situation and figure out exactly what caused the tail drop. Doing this will enable you to prevent it from happening again in future. One of the most common causes in captivity is where multiple geckos are kept together and one is bullied. If they feel significantly threatened by others in the group, they may drop their tails in response to this.

Sometimes, geckos may get their tails stuck and this can also trigger a drop. If this is the case, you should reassess the layout of the enclosure and move any potentially problematic items.

Since the event that caused the tail drop is likely to have put a great deal of stress on your gecko. You should make sure that he is as comfortable as possible with as little stress as possible while the new tail grows back.

Making Your Gecko Comfortable After A Tail Drop

Reducing stress on your gecko during the time after a tail drop requires a few different tactics. Primarily, you should check the overall health of your pet since stress can bring on physical conditions.

Since there will now be an opening where the tail once was, you should avoid using fine bedding in the enclosure until the new tail appears. Typically paper towels will provide the right amount of warmth, comfort, and absorbency while your gecko grows his tail.

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You should also make sure that the gecko is kept in a separate enclosure, if you keep more than one. When a gecko loses its tail, the members of the cage may pick on it causing further stress.

Finally, be sure to provide your gecko with optimal conditions for recovery. Make sure that the enclosure is clean and he has everything he needs. You should also ensure that your pet is eating enough and at this time, it is OK to feed him a little more to aid recovery.

Conclusion

Geckos are naturally designed to drop their tails when they feel threatened. This is a way of escaping a predator by providing a distraction. However, if you own a gecko and this happens in captivity, it can be pretty alarming.

The most important thing is not to panic; this is a normal process and won't physically harm your gecko. However, the stress of whatever caused the tail drop could affect your pet so it is vital that you assess the situation and find ways to prevent it in the future.

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