African Fat Tailed Gecko vs Leopard Gecko: A Comprehensive Comparison

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Both charming and unique, the Leopard Gecko and African Fat-Tailed Gecko have subtle yet significant differences. This guide will help you choose the perfect gecko for your home.

AspectLeopard GeckoAfrican Fat-Tailed Gecko
AppearanceVibrant, spotted coloration with bumpy skin.Subdued browns and tans, with thicker tails.
TemperamentFriendly, easy to handle, more active and curious.More docile and shy, possibly more prone to stress.
Habitat RequirementsWarm, dry environment with a heat gradient.Similar, but prefers slightly higher humidity levels.
DietInsectivores (crickets, mealworms, etc.).Similar diet but may differ in feeding frequency and supplements.
Health and LifespanUp to 20 years or more with proper care.Around 15-20 years lifespan.
Activity PatternsNocturnal, with some daytime activity.Primarily nocturnal.
Ease of CareGood for beginners, hardy, and tolerates handling well.Good for beginners, but slightly more sensitive.
Breeding and ReproductionEasier to breed, with a variety of color morphs available.Less common in breeding compared to Leopard Geckos.
Price and AvailabilityMore commonly found, generally less expensive.Less commonly found, may be more expensive.
Sensitivity to EnvironmentStandard care requirements.Requires more precise humidity control.

Related: Leopard Gecko vs Crested Gecko


Origin and Habitat

The African Fat-Tailed Gecko and the Leopard Gecko come from distinct geographic regions. Understanding their origin and habitat can provide valuable insight into their distinct characteristics, preferences, and care requirements.

  • African Fat-Tailed Gecko

    • Native to West Africa, specifically in countries such as Cameroon.
    • They mainly dwell in arid savannas, with sand, rocks, and scrub vegetation.
    • Typically found hiding under rocks or in burrows to escape the heat of their environment.
  • Leopard Gecko

    • Primarily found in the Middle East, ranging from Iran to India.
    • Their habitat consists of semi-desert environments, rocky terrains, and grasslands.
    • Similar to the African Fat-Tailed Gecko, they also seek shelter under rocks or in burrows to avoid extreme temperatures.

Both geckos share certain similarities in their habitats, mainly a preference for rocky terrains and burrow-seeking behavior. However, their origins are distinctly different, with the African Fat-Tailed Gecko coming from West Africa and the Leopard Gecko from the Middle East.

Appearance and Physical Differences

Size and Weight

  • African Fat-Tailed Geckos (AFTs) usually measure between 7-9 inches in length and weigh around 45-90 grams.
  • Leopard Geckos typically range from 8-10 inches in length and weigh 45-100 grams.

Colors and Patterns

African Fat-Tailed Geckos:

  • Their colors include brown, light brown, and beige.
  • They often display bold patterns like bands and stripes.

Leopard Geckos:

  • They come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from yellows, oranges, and browns.
  • Their unique patterns consist of varying spots and blotches.

Body Shape

  • AFTs have a more rounded and bulkier body, with a shorter snout.
  • Leopard Geckos have a slim and streamlined body, with a longer snout.

Special Features

African Fat-Tailed Geckos:

  • Possess shorter and stouter limbs with strong, rounded claws.
  • They have a wider, shorter, and fatter tail for energy storage.

Leopard Geckos:

  • Their limbs are longer and slimmer, with more elongated claws.
  • Their tail is longer and tapers towards the end, used for energy storage as well.
  • Unlike AFTs, Leopard Geckos have movable eyelids.

Behavior and Temperament

Handling Capabilities

Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos generally have a calm and friendly demeanor, making them suitable for handling:

  • African Fat-Tailed Geckos: These geckos are docile and less skittish, making them easier to handle for beginners.
  • Leopard Geckos: They are also quite docile, though they can be more curious and active during handling sessions.

Remember to always handle your geckos gently and with patience. Over time, handling can become more comfortable as the geckos become more accustomed to your presence.

Territorial Patterns

Geckos, in general, can exhibit territorial behaviors, and these two species are no exception:

  • African Fat-Tailed Geckos: They are usually more tolerant of other geckos, making them more suitable for sharing enclosures with others of the same species. It is still important to monitor them closely to ensure compatibility.
  • Leopard Geckos: They can be more territorial, especially males, so it is essential to keep them separate from others to avoid aggressive confrontations. Females can cohabitate, but you should still monitor them for any signs of tension.


Both of these geckos share some adaptive behaviors to help them survive in their respective environments:

  • Nocturnal: Both African Fat-Tailed and Leopard Geckos are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night.
  • Tail Dropping: As a defense mechanism, both species have the ability to drop their tails when threatened. The tail will regrow, but it is essential to minimize stress to prevent tail loss.

To better understand and accommodate your geckos’ unique temperaments and behaviors, it’s essential to provide a safe and suitable environment, monitor their health, and handle them with care and patience. By doing so, you’ll create a positive experience for both you and your reptilian pets.

Feeding and Nutrition

Diet Preferences

Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos are insectivores, meaning their diet consists mainly of insects. Here are the most common food items for each:

  • African Fat-Tailed Gecko: Crickets, mealworms, and the occasional waxworm as a treat
  • Leopard Gecko: Crickets, mealworms, dubia roaches, and waxworms as treats

Feeding Practice

When it comes to feeding your geckos, there are some essential guidelines to follow. Remember to always choose the right size of food according to the size of your gecko.

  • Frequency: Feed juvenile geckos daily, while adult geckos can be fed every other day.
  • Quantity: Offer 2-4 insects per feeding for adults, and 5-7 insects for juveniles.
  • Gut-loading: Always gut-load the insects with nutritious food 24 hours before feeding them to your geckos.
  • Dusting: Dust the insects with calcium and vitamin supplements to ensure proper nutrition.

By following these guidelines, you will ensure that your African Fat-Tailed Gecko or Leopard Gecko receives the appropriate nutrition for a healthy and happy life.

Housing and Habitat Conditions

Enclosure Requirements

When housing your African Fat-Tailed Gecko or Leopard Gecko, consider the following:

  • Minimum enclosure size: 20 gallons for one Gecko, add 10 gallons for each additional lizard
  • Use a glass terrarium or plastic enclosure with a secure lid to prevent escapes
  • Provide ample hiding spots such as rocks, caves, and artificial plants
  • Create a basking spot with the appropriate heat source

Substrate Preferences

Choosing the right substrate can play a significant role in maintaining proper humidity levels and prevent impaction. For both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos:

  • Avoid using sand, loose bark, or other loose substrates that can cause impaction
  • Opt for reptile carpets, paper towels, or ceramic tiles that are easy to clean and safe
  • Ensure the substrate does not retain too much moisture to keep a proper humidity balance inside the enclosure

Heat and Humidity

African Fat-Tailed Gecko

  • Require slightly higher humidity compared to Leopard Geckos
  • Maintain humidity levels within 50-70%, using a hygrometer to monitor
  • Provide a humid hide box
  • Mist the tank every few days to maintain the appropriate humidity level
  • Basking spot temperature: 86-88 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Temperature gradient: 75-90°F

Leopard Gecko

  • Prefer dry environments
  • Humidity levels should range between 30-40%
  • A humid hide box is also necessary
  • Basking spot temperature: 90-94 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Temperature gradient: 75-90°F

For both species, use a heat pad or under-tank heater on one side of the enclosure to create a temperature gradient. Provide UVB lighting for better calcium absorption and overall health. Always monitor temperature and humidity levels to ensure your gecko stays healthy and comfortable.

Morph Variations and Breeding

In this section, we will discuss the morph variations and breeding basics of African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos.

Common Morphs

Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos exhibit a wide variety of morphs. Some of the common morphs in these two species are:

  • African Fat-Tailed Gecko Morphs:
    • Banded: This normal or wild-type morph features light and dark brown contrasting bands running horizontally down their backs all the way to their tails.
    • Oreo: Displaying varying degrees of white, grey, and black, Oreo morphs are generally known for their increasing white speckling on their body and tail.
  • Leopard Gecko Morphs:
    • Albino: There are three distinct strains of albino morphs (Tremper, Bell, and Rainwater) that have a base color of yellow, orange, or lavender with varying degrees of white blotches.
    • Giant: Giant leopard geckos have a unique growth gene that allows some individuals to grow up to 12 inches in length, reaching twice the size of standard leopard geckos.

Additionally, there are many other morphs within these two species, such as all-black varieties and those with red eyes.

Breeding Basics

When it comes to breeding, both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos follow similar processes and share several aspects:

  • Breeding Age and Weight: For successful breeding, it’s recommended to wait until your geckos reach a certain age and weight. For females, this is generally around 1.5 years and a minimum weight of 40 grams (African Fat-Tailed Geckos) or 45 grams (Leopard Geckos). Males should be at least 1 year old and weigh 50 grams (Leopard Geckos) or 40 grams (African Fat-Tailed Geckos).
  • Breeding Season: Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos typically have a breeding season that spans from late winter to early summer.
  • Egg Incubation: After successful copulation, the female will lay her eggs. To ensure successful hatching, maintain an incubation temperature of 82-90°F for African Fat-Tailed Gecko eggs and 74-90°F for Leopard Gecko eggs depending on the desired sex of the hatchlings. Incubation times vary from 35 to 90 days.

Remember to be patient and monitor the health of your geckos throughout the breeding process. With time and proper care, you may see some fascinating morphs develop in your gecko offspring.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos are generally hardy reptiles when kept in ideal conditions. However, some health issues can affect these species. Here are some common health problems to look out for:

  • Improper shedding: Complications in shedding may occur if humidity levels are not optimal. Ensure the enclosure has proper humidity to prevent these issues.
  • Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): This can affect both species if they are not given enough calcium and vitamin D3 supplement in their diet.
  • Impaction: This occurs when ingested substrate or undigested food accumulates in the animal’s digestive system. To prevent impaction, maintain a clean environment and avoid feeding them prey that is too large.


African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos both have relatively long lifespans for reptiles, making them suitable pets for those looking to establish a long-term relationship with their pet. Here is a comparison of their lifespans:

  • African Fat-Tailed Gecko: On average, these geckos can live up to 15-20 years in captivity with proper care.
  • Leopard Gecko: A well-cared-for Leopard Gecko can live for 15-20 years, with some even reaching over 20 years.

Proper care and attention to the animal’s environment, diet, and health monitoring will help ensure a long and healthy life for your pet reptile.

Cost and Availability

Price Range

Both African Fat-Tailed Geckos and Leopard Geckos are popular choices in the reptile pet trade, but their prices may vary slightly depending on factors such as age, morph, and breeder reputation. Here’s a general price range you can expect when considering these geckos:

  • African Fat-Tailed Geckos: Typically cost between $50 and $150.
  • Leopard Geckos: Usually range from $30 to $100 for common morphs, while rarer morphs can fetch higher prices.

Remember, prices may vary, and it is always best to do plenty of research before making a purchase.


As for the availability of these geckos, both species can be found through various channels, including:

  • Pet Stores: Leopard Geckos are more commonly found in pet stores compared to African Fat-Tailed Geckos. However, you may still find African Fat-Tails at some specialty stores.
  • Breeders: Purchasing directly from reputable breeders can be a great option, as they can often provide more information about the gecko’s history, care, and genetics.
  • Reptile Expos: Attending reptile expos and trade shows can help you connect with breeders and find both species of geckos, often at competitive prices.

By carefully considering costs and ensuring the availability of your chosen gecko species, you’ll be well-prepared to provide a comfortable home for your new reptile pet.

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