Leopard Geckos Caudal Autotomy - Tail Dropping
The above image is a perfect example of a tail drop. You can clearly see the fracture planes on which the tail broke clean. The image below shows that a new tail has begun its regeneration. The tail will take 2-3 months before it is as large as the previous tail. During the regeneration process the tail will take on some of the geckos coloration. It will always appear bulbous in shape however.
Caudal Autotomy is when your leopard gecko self-amputates its own tail to escape predation or as a fear response. Regeneration of the tail will take place over the weeks following the amputation.
Autotomy is from the Greek word auto = "self-" and tomy = "severing".
The self-amputation of the tail with leopard geckos is designed to distract a predator. The dropped tail will continue to wiggle around as the leopard gecko is escaping. The wiggling will keep the predators attention long enough to give the leopard gecko an opportunity to slip away.
The tail break is controlled by weakened segments in the tail called "autotomy planes" or "fracture planes'. These locations allow for easy breakage and the muscles around them are designed to constrict the caudal artery, eliminating or reducing blood loss.
The regenerated tail will never look like the original. It will be bulbous in appearance and the coloration will be significantly different from the original.
Author: Richard Brooks
Caudal Autotomy Images © Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital