Any Advice?

Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
My AFT is currently living in a 30" x 12" x 12" tank with a screen lid and reptile carpet. On the left side of her tank is a medium heat pad, with about a half-inch of sand between it and the carpet. She spends most of her time sleeping in her warm hide. She's hand-fed mealworms two to three times a week, although there are always some in a dish. I've yet to see her take any from the dish, and usually end up hand-feeding them. The mealworms are dusted with regular calcium, but I plan to buy some Repashy Calcium Plus. There's a potted pothos in the back of her tank as decoration. Her tank is sprayed each day, and she has a small water dish which I refill every-other day. I combined her cool and damp hides, for better or worse, and she has a large cave filled with damp sphagnum moss. I remove her droppings whenever I come across them, and clean her carpet every two or three months.

Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated, but I also have a few questions.
I've been thinking of setting up a vivarium for her, and was planning to use Eco-Earth as substrate, sloping up from the warm side to the cool side. I was also wondering if pillow moss is suitable. I want to remove the pothos from the pot and split it into two plants, and add a few small spider plants. Does this setup sound suitable? If plan to keep all of her current hides and dishes with her.
Does she appear to be a good weight? Also, would a UVB light be good for her? If so, 5.0 or 10.0?
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DrCarrotTail

Moderator
Messages
3,590
Location
Ridgewood, NJ
Your gecko does looks a bit on the thin side. The regenerated portion of their tail should be plump and not wrinkly. I'm no expert on AFTs but from what I I've heard, they need higher activity prey than mealworms. Many will learn to eat worms from a dish but some never do. They do better with crickets and/or dubia roaches. AFTs also are a bit more secretive than leos and do better in smaller enclosures with a lot more and darker hiding places than leos. I would provide yours with at least three or four more hides that are enclosed on three sides and dark on the inside. The half log you have in there is probably too exposed and bright to provide a secure hiding spot to your gecko. I might also cover the back of the tank and possibly the sides with construction paper or a decorative panel to provide her with more security. I would not mist her cage every day but every 2-3 days and make sure her moist hide is damp so she can decide the humidity level she needs. Much like leopard geckos AFTs can ingest substrate so they are best kept on paper towels, tile or repticarpet. Eco earth would not be a good choice for the whole tank. personally I wouldn't put potted plants in with my gecko but would choose a nice imitation plant that can be cleaned well from time to time. If you really want to use real ones I would make sure you are using soil that is 100% organic and the plants are thoroughly cleaned of pesticides before placing them in your geckos tank.
 

acpart

Geck-cessories
Staff member
Messages
11,165
Location
Somerville, MA
I do have different experience than Lisa with AFT's, so here's my take. As you'll see, there are different ways of doing things, so pick one and see how it goes.

Planted cage: I keep my AFT's (3 cages of them so far) on coco fiber with plants with no problem. In order to provide proper drainage for the plants and also to keep the hides close to the UTH on the warm side, I put hydroton balls on the cool side (about 2/3 of the tank) and wrap a piece of vinyl screen around them to hold them there. Then I put eco earth over the entire cage. That results in the substrate being higher on the cool side with the drainage layer and lower on the hot side. I kind of half bury the hot side hides so the geckos can be close to the heat source when they're in there. I use a variety of plants which I plant right into the eco earth. Pothos is fine.

Hides: No matter how many hides I put in my AFT cages, my geckos usually huddle together in one hide. It's certainly a good idea to give them choices, but I don't think it's essential. They do like a dark, well protected hide, but I have no problems keeping them in an "exposed" glass enclosure.

Lights: If I didn't have the plants in there I wouldn't use lights, but I do, so there are lights. I use good compact florescent grow lights that I get from the hydroponics store.

Misting: I do mist every day. The plants need it, the soil needs it and the geckos are fine.

Feeding: it's rare that a fat tail will eat mealworms. I also encourage you to expand to crickets and your gecko may gain some more weight.

Aliza
 

DrCarrotTail

Moderator
Messages
3,590
Location
Ridgewood, NJ
I'm speaking from book knowledge and a brief 6 month period of keeping two AFTs 8 years ago (which really doesn't count for much!!) so I would take Aliza's advice over mine in a heart beat! Good luck and keep us posted on the changes you make and how she does :)
 

Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
Well, thanks to both of you anyways.
I'll be giving her one more cool hide, and I'll get a light as well. Any particular brand?
Now... how deep should I make the substrate on the warm side, if I have the hide partially buried? One inch? How close can geckos get to heat pads without getting burnt?
I don't have any experience with hydroton balls. Do they absorb extra water, and release it later? Do I need a tank divider to keep the water on the cool side? Oh, and once again, is pillow moss okay? I only ask because I haven't seen much in vivariums.
With feeder insects... Would you say crickets or roaches? I've never tried roaches before. Do they grow too big to be fed? Which is more likely to harass or bite geckos?
 
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DrCarrotTail

Moderator
Messages
3,590
Location
Ridgewood, NJ
This I can say from experience! haha. The best way to ensure your gecko doesn't get harmed or burnt by your heat pad is to make sure it doesn't get hot enough to hurt or burn them. Many of the heat pads on the market get up to 130 or more degrees when they are simply plugged into a wall and they can and will burn your gecko at that temperature. If you don't have some way to regulate or control the temperature of your heat pad you should pick up a thermostat (best) or a dimmer for it.
 

Olympus

Biologist & Ecologist
Messages
298
Location
Miami, Fl.
I have a naturalistic vivarium for my 4 AFT geckos, with plants (washed) planted directly into organic top soil and peatmoss. Then I use logs and bark flats as additional hides. I usually hide the hides among the plants and this seems to work beautifully for the group, they feel very safe and hidden during the day and then they're active and engaged during the night when they hunt down crickets (I do bowl-feed any worms, which they do feed from, and tong-feed roach nymphs.)

Here is their tank when I first set it up. It's undergone a few changes since then, the plants have grown, others have been replaced, etc. But in essence it's the same, several years later:



(Drowsy geckos being introduced to the cage)



I don't have a basking light, I was using it for extra illumination for the photos. But I do have a 48" fluorescent fixture across the entire top that houses 2 x 5,000K daylight bulbs, available cheaply from any Home Depot/Lowe's. They're usually $6 for a 2 pack and because 5,000K (Kelvin) is in the daylight spectrum it does wonders for keeping plants alive. Some also use 6,500K lights but I find them too blue, these I find to be a perfect white without leaning towards blue.

I don't think you would need a UVB bulb, honestly.

I use under tank heat pads for warmth and find that it doesn't matter how thick you have your substrate, the geckos will do what they were born to do and dig until they are comfortable. It's not usual for me to lift up a log and find a system of little caves and nooks at different depths and a gecko in each of them. They are natural diggers, so they will change their own set up to better suit their needs if given the ability to.
 
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Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
Just a quick update. I'll be adding an 18in 5000K daylight bulb soon. Picking up 20-30 crickets today- should I set some in a box with Stripe so that they're easier to catch? I've been pretty busy with school and my other pets, but I'll try to set aside time for the tank this weekend.
 

Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
I had been feeding Stripe crickets years ago, but she eventually stopped eating them. Maybe they started biting? It appears that she still dislikes them, as she didn't take a single one when I offered them. She was hardly even interested. Any ideas why this is happening? I set her in a small plastic tub with seven 1/3"-2/3" crickets, and offered a few by hand. Left four in her tank, but I don't think that they've been eaten. I've ordered some Eco-Earth and pillow moss from Amazon.com and will redo her tank once they're here.
 

Olympus

Biologist & Ecologist
Messages
298
Location
Miami, Fl.
It may just be the nervousness of being put in a container if that's not usually where she eats. I will put mine into a large plastic tub when I'm cleaning or re-arranging their enclosure and I'll throw in any superworms or crickets if I find them loose in the enclosure but they don't go for them unless I leave them in for a long while. They're too busy exploring the container and figuring out what's happening.
 

geckobabies

African Fat Tails <3
Messages
867
Location
Northern, VA
A few general comments that may or may not help you. I don't know the background on your gecko or how long you've had it but maybe this will help.

In general, fat tails are very shy. Removing them to another container is not the best idea. It works for some, I would guess the majority it does not. If it's not eating, it could be because winter is here and they can go off feed during that time, it could be the tank is not warm enough, it could be it's stressed and unhappy, or it could be parasites.

From looking at your gecko from that photo it looks skinny to me. If it's an import, my guess is parasites. If it will eat mealworms out of your hand, feed it about 10 mealies a day everyday to get it to gain some weight. If it starts eating well but does not gain weight it's probably because of parasites. Fecals are around $25 and a good idea if you have not had one.

I cannot comment on planted tanks, as I have never had one.. but fat tails are nocturnal animals they do not like light. A bright UVB bulb is only a disadvantage for your fat tail. They need a warm side moist hide more so than a cool side. The warm side moist hide provides shelter, comfort and humidity. I prefer New England Sphagnum moss for my hides for juvies and adults. I juse plastic containers with a hold cut in the lid. Simple, yet effective and easy to clean and sanitize.

Hope some of that helped. good luck with your gecko, I hope it turns around for you.
 

Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
I've had her for about four or five years now, but I'm pretty sure she was an import. I'm guessing parasites are still possible? She has a heat pad under the left side of her tank and an overhead plant light that doesn't generate much heat. It's on a timer and turns on at 9AM, off at 6PM. I'll be switching her to Eco-Earth Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on when I have time. I also plan to get her a few more plants. (By the way, any plant suggestions? She has two pothos right now and I'm ordering two boxes of pillow moss.) I'll try to get/make a warm moist hide soon.
 
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Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
Well, she's been eating 9-10 mealworms daily, and seems a bit more plump. I didn't feed her yesterday however, because she was still getting used to her new surroundings. I decided to skip the layer of hydro balls. At the moment, there are 3 inches of Eco-earth on the warm side, and 4 on the cool side. Both sides slope down to the middle. Her warm hide is partially buried in the soil. I left a food dish next to it so that I can feed her without soil getting in the way. There are a few small pothos scattered throughout the back of the tank, and I was thinking about adding two small bromeliads. On the cool side I've buried the bottom half of the cool hide, and covered the surface of the substrate in pillow moss. Her water dish is almost hanging off of the slope of the soil, so I might add more there. I'll upload more pictures when I get home, but does anyone have any suggestions?
 

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Olympus

Biologist & Ecologist
Messages
298
Location
Miami, Fl.
I like it. I think it was a good idea to forgo the hydroballs, if your tank was wet enough to need them I think your gecko would be in trouble! Pothos need very little water so spot-watering them and then misting the tank down like usual will be enough to keep everything alive but not spike the humidity to sky-high levels perpetually.
 

geckobabies

African Fat Tails <3
Messages
867
Location
Northern, VA
Glad to hear she is eating :) Having no experience with this type of setup, my only suggestion would be to make sure she has a warm dry area as well as moist. They are not a tropical species and need dry areas to get away from the humidity and moisture.
 

Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
Well, I haven't seen her out very much since I changed her setup. I've been attempting to feed her mealworms but she hasn't taken many, and never leaves her hide while feeding, which make things difficult. I left a few small crickets in there but I have no idea if she'll eat them. Ideas..?

Also, here are a few more pictures of the setup. I added a small bromeliad and a baby ponytail palm.
 

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Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
You know, I probably should have mentioned this earlier. I realize that this is probably a TERRIBLE thing to do, but here goes. For the past... 5(?) years, until recently, Stripe has been eating baby food out of a syringe with a rubber nipple. He ate primarily chicken or turkey baby food, with a bit of squash or sweet potato food mixed in. Calcium and Herptivite multivitamins were added, along with electrolyte powder (Store) on occasion.

The reason I'm writing this is that she's still pretty used to being hand-fed via syringe. In fact, when I first started her on mealworms, her aim was so bad that each worm took multiple attempts to eat. Has anyone ever heard of others syringe-feeding their geckos? Exactly how bad was feeding baby food? Also, once again, any feeding advice?

EDIT: Just curious- how dangerous would it be for a gecko to ingest dirt or coconut fiber?
 
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Stripe

New Member
Messages
23
Location
Lago Vista, Texas
She's been eating dusted mealworms every other day now. I take her out of her cage and set them in front of her. I've also been attempting to give her baths in about a centimeter of water. (She's got a bit of shed skin on her foot that won't come off.) Anyone have something to say with regard to the last post?
 

Olympus

Biologist & Ecologist
Messages
298
Location
Miami, Fl.
Baby food isn't great for these guys but she looks good so you're in time to correct any issues, like too much animal protein causing gout in her joints, for example.

And as far as substrate, you'll hear different answers from different people but in 15 years of keeping or working professionally with reptiles I have yet to see any issues in a healthy animal. Healthy meaning well-hydrated, no MBD, and no debilitating weakness or disease.

However, you see it a lot in animals that have these conditions, because they physically can't move things along, regardless of how loose or particulate.
 

GazzaB85

New Member
Messages
20
Location
England, uk
In regards to the post about feeding the baby food, I would book a check up at the reptile vets just to see if she could be malnourished from eating the baby food. Sorry if you have already answered this in a previous post and I missed it. Hope all goes well anyway. Gary
 
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