My leopard gecko’s tail fell off – What should I do?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I have seen the tails of reptiles falling away but no sight was more painful when I witnessed my little leopard gecko without its tail!

I was in agony and so was my Leo (at least this is what I thought). The first question that popped into my mind was what should I do now?

Are there any ways that can soothe my gecko? I found the answers and learned a lot during the process.

If you’re also a gecko’s owner and want to know what should you do when it’s tail fells off then read on. Here’s a kicker for you:

If the leopard gecko’s tail fells off then don’t worry. Try to soothe it by changing the vivarium and its conditions, feeding nutritious food, and making sure that the wound doesn’t catch any infections. Over time, the tail would reappear due to autotomy. You have to be vigilant why the tail fell off to avoid such accidents in the future.

Let’s dig deeper and discuss what exactly you should be doing once your gecko’s tail fells off.

What to do when your leopard gecko’s tail fells off?

First things first. Don’t panic. Stay calm and try not to disturb the Leo once the tail falls off. Try to do the following things to soothe it:

Isolate it

If your gecko is living with other geckos then the wound can get worse because of any fights. Also, you can’t observe the gecko very closely due to many distractions.

So, the first thing you should do is to arrange a separate vivarium for that gecko. In this way, you’ll protect the wound from further injury and can see the gecko more vigilantly. The gecko would also be scared so by isolating it you’d give it space to relax and heal.

Disinfect the wound

After waiting for good thirty minutes, hold your gecko very softly and disinfect the wound with a disinfectant that’s suitable to reptiles.

Don’t disturb your gecko right after the tail fells off. It would be in stress and pain so leave it alone so that it can get back to normal. After that disinfect the wound to prevent any infections.

Move it to a hard substrate

Porous or soft substrates such as sand aren’t good for your injured leopard gecko. The soft substrate can penetrate into the wound, making it infectious. The wound wouldn’t heal in this condition and consequently, the tail wouldn’t grow back.

It’s recommended that you choose a hard substrate for the gecko so that the wound remains protected. You can easily disinfect the wound and allow the gecko to move freely.

Feed it well

When the tail falls off, the gecko loses a large amount of fat. Due to this, it will feel clumsy and sick. So, make sure you’re feeding nutritious food to your gecko on intervals.

You have to be very mindful while offering live food to your gecko. Don’t feed crickets to the injured gecko as crickets can start nibbling on the wound. This will worsen the wound and your gecko will be in pain for days. Feed just the right amount of food but make sure you don’t feed your reptile insects that can nibble on the wound.

Call vet in case of infections

If you see something sticking on the wound or puss coming out of the wound then it’s better to call a vet. Your gecko needs antibiotics in this case. Once the infection goes away then take care of your Leo even more so that it can regrow the tail rapidly.

Optimize the vivarium conditions

Leopard gecko feels stress in too much light and sound. You don’t have to stress out your injured gecko because it won’t be able to heal the wound under a stressful environment.

Make sure that the temperature, light, and sound is optimum. Measure the temperature of the gecko as well. Also, make sure there is no other animal, plant in the vivarium so that the gecko can relax and heal well.

How leopard gecko’s tail fells off?

Once you start taking care of your leopard gecko then the next thing you should do is to understand the process of tail falling. The tail falls off when the sphincter muscles on the base of the tail contract.

The tail releases between the two vertebrae. The blood vessels in the tail region constrict and no blood flows in that region once the tail falls off. That is why you see little or no blood loss when the tail separates.

You must be wondering why geckos do that? Is it merely an accident or geckos can intentionally cut off their tail in certain conditions? Let’s find out now.

Why leopard gecko’s tail falls off?

The tail falling event of your gecko can occur due to several reasons such as:

Reaction to a threat

Yes, geckos can intentionally “throw-off” their tails in order to escape from a predator. The predator only gets a wiggling tail while the gecko runs away. This strategy is particularly useful in their natural habitat where there are a lot of predators in search of them.

After escaping, the gecko hides in a safe place and allows the tail to regrow.

Extreme stress

The situations that are stressful for the gecko can make it drop off its tail. This is a reaction when your Leo is living under extreme stress. You have to figure out why the gecko is feeling stressful and make sure to eradicate the cause.

Fight with other geckos

Geckos, especially male ones tend to fight with one another. During this fight, they might lose their tail. That is why it’s recommended to isolate the injured gecko and don’t allow other geckos to come near it.

Injury

Injury can happen when the tail gets stuck in anything. In this case, the gecko might feel more pain due to this injury. Injury can also happen while you handle your gecko. Or in case kids handle it harshly.

How to prevent tail falling?

Once you know the causes, you can easily prevent this falling off by providing optimum conditions to your gecko and keeping a vigilant eye on it.

  • Handle the gecko carefully. Geckos don’t like to be handled all the time so they can feel stress if you keep them in hand for a long time. This stress can make them fall off the tail. Also handling by kids must be prohibited as the gecko can lose its tail in case of mishandling.
  • Maintain optimum conditions in the vivarium. Don’t add anything that can hurt the tail. Check vivarium conditions (temperature, light, population) every now and then.
  • Avoid exposing your gecko to harsh environments that can pose a threat to them.
  • Keep an eye on your gecko’s activities. If you have more than one geckos then don’t allow them to fight.
  • Feed nutritious food to your gecko to make it happy and relaxed.
  • Watch your gecko if it’s moving freely with you. Any furniture can injure it that can result in the loss of the tail. This free-roaming time should be very less to avoid such accidents.

Finally…

If your gecko’s tail has fallen off then don’t panic. Gecko undergoes a process called autotomy in which the tail regrows after some time. That new tail might not be the same as the old one but it would be definitely good enough in function.

You have to provide sufficient food and a separate vivarium to the injured gecko. Also, clean the wound and keep an eye on infections. Providing optimum conditions will allow your Leo to grow its tail rapidly.

Also, watch the activities of your gecko carefully after that injury. Because it’s not that it will regrow the tail all the time. The autotomy process slows down after the new tail has been grown.

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