Leopard geckos lose their tails when they feel threatened or in danger. Tail drop is a defense mechanism in leopard geckos and can lead to slight bleeding that should not worry you as a pet owner. Here’s a guide on why geckos drop their tails and what to do to help the lizard regrow its tail again.
What is leopard gecko tail drop?
Tail drop in leopard geckos is when the tail detaches from what is called the “tail base”. The tail drop occurs as a defensive mechanism and it’s also known to occur if leopard geckos are scared.
The difference between tail drop and tail loss in leopard geckos is the purpose of shedding their tails. A leopard gecko drops its tail when it feels threatened or frightened. Tail loss, on the other hand, happens when your gecko sheds its tail involuntarily, usually because it has been injured or is ill.
The anatomy of a leopard gecko’s tail makes its tail easy to detach, which means that there isn’t much blood loss or tissue damage after detachment. There’s no need for medical attention unless you just need to put ointment on the wound to reduce the potential risk of infection.
The detached tail will wiggle and twitch around, and it will eventually stop doing so after a while.
The tail can grow back on its own if you have the time to wait for that to happen: geckos regenerate their tails in 38-45 days.
However, as a pet owner, you should take into consideration what the causes of the drop are before deciding whether or not to let it regrow naturally.
Do leopard geckos drop their tails?
Geckos drop their tails intentionally as a form of defense. The dropped tail acts as a distraction for predators, and the loss may even save its life if it escapes unharmed from that predator.
Even though leopard geckos are small lizards with relatively short tails, they can still drop their tails as an act of defense. The simple fact that their tail was broken off would also cause them to lose blood a little bit of blood.
It has been noted anecdotally by many herpetologists (reptile experts) that when encountering something threatening, leopard geckos often ‘drop’, or release themselves from under whatever holds them up so they fall on their backs onto things like rocks or branches. This can easily lead to tail loss.
Tail loss can be life-threatening in some instances as the pet may lose too much blood as their tails are composed of fat and bone marrow which holds blood cells.
When dropping a tail due to illness, there’s usually a reason why the animal has lost some body weight but not more than 20%. They might also seem lethargic with trouble breathing if the problem is serious enough. If you notice any of these signs then consult your veterinarian immediately for treatment advice.
Does it hurt a gecko to lose its tail?
It does not hurt the gecko to lose its tail because these lizards are adapted to breaking off naturally without any pain when in extremely threatening conditions. Therefore, you should not worry when your pet lizard loses its tail as there’s no discomfort involved.
If you think the pet is in pain, check the area where the tail broke off to see if there’s any infection developing in order to apply treatment soon enough.
READ ALSO: Leopard Gecko Tail Rot: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Why do leopard geckos lose their tails?
There are various reasons why leopard geckos lose their tails. One of the most common reasons is tail drop, which can happen for a wide variety of reasons including stress or defense during feeding time and infection.
Here are the main reasons why leopard geckos lose or drop their tails:
- Stress: This is the most common cause of tail drop. Examples of stressful events include: being attacked by a predator, gecko fighting with tankmates, feeding strain, etc.
- Defense when attacked: Leopard geckos will drop their tails when they are attacked by a predator. This is usually done to distract the attacker and make it easier for them to escape being eaten.
- Infection: Diseases such as fungal infections and bacterial/viral pathogens can also cause tail drop in geckos.
A healthy leopard gecko tail should be at least two inches long with no signs of baldness or discoloration. If you notice the tail is starting to look like it has a splotch on it, it may be infected so take your pet to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you think your pet gecko has lost its tail due to stress or defense while feeding then try separating it from other tank mates before mealtimes to reduce this risk.
Possible signs that your pet has suffered from injury include pain when touched near the base of the spine as well as the inability to move freely around its enclosure without showing discomfort or acting aggressively towards others in the terrarium such if biting at them with no reaction (due to lack of the ability to feel).
What to do if your leopard gecko loses its tail
- If your leopard gecko loses its tail, there are some steps you can take to help it grow back. Here’s a list of things to do if your leopard gecko loses its tail:
- Feed it crickets and mealworms to help the tail regrow faster.
- Place the gecko in a warm, humid environment that is not too dry or hot – this helps to promote the regrowth of its tail.
- Keep handling your leopard gecko gently as much as possible so you don’t stress them out about their missing tail.
The most important thing is to make sure your pet doesn’t have any other underlying health issues before trying anything else! Talk to a vet if necessary.
Leopard gecko tail regrowth
- Leopard geckos regrow their tails soon after dropping or shedding. It can take as long as a year for a gecko to grow back their tail.
- The regrowing of the tail can take 20 days to four months because it is not an instant process. The new tissue will form at the same rate as adults, but it takes time before they have fully grown back their tails and are able to use them again.
- Here are care tips to help regrow lost leopard gecko tails faster:
- Clean debris from around the wound site using water-soaked cotton swabs to prevent infections.
- Apply petroleum jelly with an eye dropper every day (or as often as possible) at least once after cleaning away any sores that might be present so they don’t get infected.
- Make sure they have plenty of food, water and a comfortable place to hide.
- Keep your leopard gecko’s tank clean by using a disinfectant or dilute vinegar every few days.
- To help the wound heal faster, try applying an antibiotic ointment like neomycin jelly twice daily (morning and night).
- Put some extra ventilation near their spot with leaves on top so it looks more natural. The leaves will also allow better airflow which helps keep humidity down around them as well!
How many times can a gecko regrow its tail?
Your leopard gecko can lose its tail twice before it will not be able to grow back a new one. However, that depends on the species of the lizard. Some geckos are able to regrow their tails at least two times while others can regrow dropped tails multiple times.
The cause of the tail loss can also determine whether or not your pet leopard gecko will regrow its tail. Severe tail amputation by predators can leave the gecko without the ability to regrow its tails again.
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