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Crested Geckos are sensitive creatures. When scared or startled, sick or infected, or even breeding, they may “drop” their tail and be left with a stumpy “frogbutt”.
Most Crested Geckos in the wild do not have tails. So, if your gecko happens to lose their tail, it really will not affect its ability to live a long, healthy life. Crested Geckos use their tails to help them balance, and jump. However, they can easily adapt to not having a tail. It may just take a few days of learning and adjusting for them to be comfortable with their normal movements.
What Does It Mean When A Gecko Drops Its Tail?
When a gecko drops its tail, there are a few things it can mean.
Firstly, your gecko may have felt extremely threatened. When geckos feel like they are in danger, they may drop their tail. This can happen in the wild, or in captivity. Crested Geckos use this ability, called autonomy, to protect themselves from predators. Imagine seeing a gecko in the wild. It’s in a beautiful rainforest, basking in the sunshine and humidity when it sees a snake. The snake begins hunting the gecko.
The gecko becomes nervous and understands that its life is in danger. As the gecko is frantically trying to escape, the tail pops off of its body and starts flopping around in front of the snake. The snake becomes distracted and confused, and the gecko is able to run away and live another day.
Secondly, a dropped tail could mean your gecko is possibly sick or has some sort of infection. The infection could be located in or around where the tail joins the body. Or maybe the dropped tail is a result of stress caused by an infection located somewhere else in the gecko’s body. Either way, if your gecko is sick, it is important to have your it treated by a vet to heal the infection and get your Crested Gecko healthy again.
Thirdly, female Crested Geckos commonly lose their tails when they are breeding.
Situations that commonly result in a lost tail are things like, loud surprising noises, squeezing, grabbing, pinching, and territory disputes. You can help your Crested Gecko keep its tail by being gentle, and protecting it from stressful experiences.
Read More: Baby Crested Gecko Care Guide!
Do Crested Geckos Lose Their Tails Easily?
The short answer to this question is no. Typically, Crested Geckos only lose their tail if they have a good reason, although they can be pretty sensitive to their environment and changes around them.
Here are things you can do to prevent tail loss.
Does It Hurt A Gecko to Lose Its Tail?
Absolutely not. A gecko’s tail is meant to fall off in certain situations. Their bodies have specifically adapted to have the ability to painlessly leave their tail behind when necessary. The connective tissue in a gecko’s tail allows the appendage to break off at specific locations called “fracture planes”. These planes are spread throughout the length of the tail. The gecko chooses to release its tail if it believes it is necessary for its survival.
Unfortunately, unlike many other geckos and lizards Crested Geckos do not have the ability to grow their tail back. So, if your Crestie drops its tail, it will be gone forever. But luckily, the Crested Gecko can actually get along just fine without its tail. It’s mostly just a cosmetic feature on the pet. The most damage that comes from dropping a tail is really to the Gecko’s ego. Once they lose their tail, they are often called a “frog butt” crestie. Some owners find that endearing, but luckily, the gecko can still live a normal, happy life.
Treatment of A Dropped Tail
Typically, a Crested Gecko can recover on its own just fine after dropping its tail. But there are a few things you can do as its owner to help assist ina speedy recovery.
Read More: Crested Gecko Dehydration
What Causes Floppy Tail in Crested Geckos?
Floppy tail syndrome happens when a gecko’s tail muscles become weak and is commonly a result of the Crestie hanging upside-down frequently. It is often noticed while the gecko is hanging upside down, and its tail droops over the gecko’s back, or to the side. The gecko loses strength in its tail muscles and no longer has the ability to lift the tail straight behind its body.
Sometimes, a floppy tail is the result of an injury or bite from another gecko. The injury may not heal well, and the tail will begin to die and tissue becomes necrotic. Often, this spreads from the injury, up toward the body of the gecko. Floppy Tail Syndrome can also be caused by several genetic issues, such as a deformed or rotated hip joint. Dietary factors may also play a role in the development of a floppy tail.
To prevent Floppy Tail Syndrome in Crested Geckos, the owner should ensure the gecko has a complete diet. And multiple branches, both horizontal and vertical, should be provided in the gecko’s enclosure for climbing. This will allow the gecko multiple spots to hide, with not all of them requiring them to be upside down, therefore protecting their tail. House Crested Geckos separately to prevent fighting and injury between cagemates.
If your Crestie has Floppy Tail Syndrome, it may be necessary to force a tail drop as it could be beneficial for the health and happiness of your gecko. It is always smart to get an expert’s opinion. Talk to your vet regarding your gecko, and see if removal is the right option for treatment. Removal should only be used for severe cases as directed by a reptile vet.
Read More: Crested Gecko Shedding Guide
Protect Your Crested Gecko
Most Crested Geckos in the wild will lose their tail before they become an adult. But in captivity, tail loss is a lot less common, but can still be traumatizing. With that said, many owners have said that Crested Geckos will give you signs they are about to drop their tail. If their tail starts to twitch and spasm, immediately back away and leave them alone.
To help your gecko keep its tail, avoid rough handling, breeding, and putting your gecko in situations of extreme stress. Luckily, losing their tail will typically not be painful, or have any long-term negative effects. Keeping your gecko’s habitat safe, providing the correct temperature, heat, and humidity, and handling gently, all to reduce stress, are simple things an owner can do to encourage a Crested Gecko to keep its tail.