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A Little Guidance for My AFT

Discussion in 'African Fat-tailed Geckos' started by autumnandkevin, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. My wife got me an African Fat Tailed geck to learn how to take care of a lizard. I wanted a bearded dragon and she suggested I learn to walk before I run. Anyways, I have a 10 Gallon tank with a mesh top. I use T-Rex Jungle Bed Premium Blend Substrate, Zoo-med Terraarium moss to help retain moisture. As you can see in the pictures There are two logs a corner of moss, and a small imitation rock watering hole. There was 2 other items as you can see in the other picture but I have recently read that AFTs need a little bit of space to walk around, so I removed those 2 items. I have had my AFT for a couple of months now and she is not eating. Her tail has gotten considerably smaller since we got her. We now believe that the tank just isnt warm enough.

    My problem is trying to get the tank to hold a decent temperature. I am running a Zoo-Med Rept-Therm 6"x8"(8W), and an Exo Terra Day Glow 60W bulb. The temperature in her cage is only 78 on the warm side and 70 on the cool side.

    I tried to create a makeshift top to trap some heat in with aluminum foil and cardboard alternating, but it is not working. I have only been able to get her to eat 2 maybe 3 times in the last 2 months, she wont go after crickets and I do not leave them in the tank with her for fear of them going after her, she doesnt like wax worms, she refuses meal worms. I have gotten her to eat pure chicken baby food from a spoon on occaision though. I really do not want her to starve to death so please HELP!

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  2. rosi92

    rosi92 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Those temps definitely sound too low. You could get an under tank heater to raise the temps, get a stronger bulb as well. If you can find a piece of wood or glass, you could use that to cover the top.
  3. rosi92

    rosi92 Subscribed User Premium Member

    Also, do you have a digital thermometer? I see in your pics that you have the dials. Those can be kind of inaccurate. I would get a digital thermometer with a probe. They are usually only like 12 dollars.
  4. Jessica90

    Jessica90 Elite Member

    you can get them from walmart for around 6 as well ! and beardies are great beginner pets BTW with good temps the right diet the acceptable amount of space and some loving there isn't much to them !
  5. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    Have you tried making platforms that bring her closer to the bulb? Think of stairs she can safely climb in order to bask nearer to the bulb. You need a hot surface temperature, not hot ambient air temperature. The stick on dials aren't just kind of inaccurate, they're totally inaccurate. Further, they aren't actually on your basking spot, so technically, you don't know what the actually basing surface temp is. Those dials are supposed to measure the ambient air temperature nearby. You can also try using an infrared temperature gun to find out what the surface temp of the basking spot is.

    Another factor that can affect appetite is dehydration. I would definitely encourage you to purchase a digital hygrometer. Not only do you need slightly elevated humidity (~50%) but you need a moist hide for healthy shedding.

    The UTH you're using is likely too low in wattage to compete with the substrate depth. I would suggest using tile over the heater to create adequate belly heat.

    See this care sheet:
    African Fat-tailed Gecko Caresheet (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus)

    Unfortunately, it looks like you're going to need to re-vamp the entire enclosure to meet the needs of your gecko. Many products intended for use with reptiles are essentially useless and it takes trial and error to discover what works. You should make the necessary changes as soon as possible if you're seeing anorexia, lethargy, and weight loss. :(
  6. The Under Tank heat that I am using is on the side of the glass on the hot side, right now she is curled up to the glass near it. I will look at getting some tile and reading into how that works. I am looking to get a 100W bulb the ceramic 24hour one. Also a couple better thermometers and hygrometers. I will post back in a few days after I have made adjustments to see where the tanks temperature and her eating habits are. I thank everyone for the posts and will adjust fire accordingly.

  7. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Why are you using the Under Tank Heater on the side of your enclosure? They need belly heat to digest their food properly.
    Their care is similar to a leopard gecko but with slightly higher humidity.

    Tiles are great for substrate, this will not cause impactions and they will also hold the heat better.
    They need 3 hides a hot hide over the UTH, a moist hide on the warm side and a cool hide on the cool side!
    Once you get a digital thermometer with a probe place the probe on the floor of the hot side and then you will know what the basking temperature is. UTH should be left on and also plugged into a thermostat like the repti temp 500 r by zilla and adjust the temperature to the desired basking temp.
    The UTH should be 1/3 of the floor of the enclosure.
    I'm not sure if you will be able to get the proper heat gradient needed to thermoregulate with a 10 gallon.
    You can by a digital thermometer/hygrometer combo, there is one by exo terra and another one that is by acu rite.
  8. Well I got a 100W ceramic heating bulb and placed that on the hot side. I bought the digital thermometer, which suprisingly the analog was only 1-3 degrees off which is still quite a bit but not as bad as I thought it would be. The hot side is now between 88 and 92 so I plan on using a dimmer switch to reduce the power of the ceramic heating bulb. Today though is the first day she has eaten on her own accord. I put 3 small crickets in the tank this morning and watched her stalk, and attack each cricket. I did however observe her eating a bit of the substrate while biting the crickets. Will the coconut fiber substrate cause her to get impacted? I have not read anything bad about it but I was more or less curious what peoples personal experiences have been with the coconut fibers.
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    How do you have the thermometer set up? Can you show us a picture?
    Unless the room itself is very cool a 100 watt emitter on a ten gallon tank is a bit much.
  10. I have the 100W on the left and a 60UV during the day on the right. I am about to replace the coconut substrate for paper towel and place a tuberware container with moss and a lid with a cutout hole in the top filled with water to help maintain humidity. I had to turn off the under the tank heater but right now with the 100w and the 60w the tank is reading 88.7 degrees. My house is kept between 67-70 but the temp outside her tank is reading 66 with that digital thermometer when I remove it from the tank. Also how many crickets can I feed her. I fed her 3 this morning and watched her chow down, she finished the third off and walked around looking for more. Today I went and bought 20 more and figured before I threw her a few more I would find out if you can over feed your lizard.

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  11. murrindindi

    murrindindi Elite Member

    Hi, I`m a little confused, are you saying you have a total of 160watts burning during the day, and you only get an ambient (air) temp of 88f in a 10gallon tank on the warm side, if yes, what`s the temp on the cool side, and where exactly have you placed the digital thermometer?
    And can you put larger photos up, you can do that by downloading them to Photobucket or Flickr, then copying the code, they`ll come out much bigger and clearer. Thanks!
  12. Flickr: kevinunwin's Photostream

    There is a 100W ceramic heating bulb on the left approximately 14" from the base of the tank, and a 60W UV bulb on the right also 14" from the base. I only have a screen top. I placed a tuperware container full of moss/coconut fiber and water on the heated side to help with the moisture. right now the moisture is at 48. She has eaten 6 crickets so far and every so often she starts wandering around looking for more. I also dont know if I should stop giving them to her for now or let her eat until she is satisfied.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Place the probe on the ground directly under the lamps and see what the temps are on each end.
    Something is wrong here. With 160 watts of heat that tank should be an oven.
    I use single 100 watt CHE's on 55 gallon tanks! And they are in a cool room that gets into the mid to upper 60's in winter.
    What brand or configuration are the heaters.
  14. The tank is 20"L X 10"W X 13"H. The heater on the right is a Flunker's Mini Sun Dome (100W MAX) with a All things living Ceramic Heat Emitter 100W Bulb. I am not sure about the lamp on the right it was given to me it doesnt have a name brand written on it but it is a 75W max, I want to say the bulb is an Exo Terra Sun Glo 60W bulb. The digital thermometer is made by zilla accurate for temps up to 140 degrees. I stuck the thermometer on the outside of the water bowl with the red lid directly at ground level directly centered beneath the light. The temperature went up from 88.9 on the left side of the tank against the glass at the bottom to 90.3 here directly beneath the ceramic bulb. I didnt stop to think about the cool side but I placed the digital thermometer beneath the other lamp on the cool side and it is at 86.5

    Now I am confused about what to do should I use the dimmer switch on the 100W bulb and see what happens or is there another solution?
  15. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Ok, lets try to get you on the right track!
    You need a hot side and a cool side.
    I'm not sure why you are using the Sun Glo 60Watt bulb on the right side. Is this a UVB basking bulb?
    For heating you are using the 100 watt ceramic heat emitter, is this right?
    Are you using an UTH as well?
    Turn off the 60 watt sun glow bulb.
    Place the probe from the thermometer on the floor of the enclosure below the heat emitter. What temperature does it read?
    Now place the probe on the floor cool side of the enclosure the far right. What temperature does it read?

    This is the heating part of the leopard gecko, it just basically show what is meant by heat gradient and how to achieve this for them to properly thermoregulate
    Leopard Gecko Heating

    By the way I glad that you switched to paper towel.
  16. alright it took a bit for temps to stabilize out I allowed for 2 hours to ensure that no risidual heat remained present. Currently the hot side is 84.6 and the cool side 76.8 give or take .2-.5 degrees.

    I am not sure what a UTH is but I do not believe I was using one. At first I had an udertank 8w heater with both bulbs going but the temp sky rocketed to 93. I turned off the undertank heater and spread the bulbs apart to the farthest points.
  17. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    I really think that your tank is too small!
    Your basking temps (floor of the hot side) should be 85- 88 degrees and your cool side should be around 74 and not go over 78.
    They need belly heat to digest their food properly.
    In your first post you had an Under tank Heater that was stuck to the side of your tank. It should have been under the tank for this type of reptile.
    A 20 gallon long (30" x 12" x 12") would give you a better heat gradient!
    I would aim for 88 for the hot side, and 75 for the cool side.
    Also, you mentioned the bulb on the right side being a UV bulb sun glo 60 watt. Is this a UVB bulb?
    I would also go with just an under tank heater and a regular low wattage incandescent bulb for light during the day for a photo period. UTH should be 1/3 of the length of the tank.
  18. I had the under the tank heater on the side because I was told my substrate would be to thick to really allow the gecko to benefit from it. The 60W bulb is a UVB. I cannot get away with just the under the tank heater and a 60 bulb I cant get the temp hot enough on the hot side then. With this 100W bulb I am for the first time in 2 months she has eaten on her own. Today she has eaten 6 crickets. I will start looking for a 20 long but I was under the impression that a 10 gallon would suffice for 1 gecko. I am not made of money so it might be a while, I think for now I will have to leave the 100W heater running by itself and keep the tank at about 84 hot side and 77 for the cool side. I will make a cardboard humid hide and see if that can sustain her for the time being.
  19. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    The UTH should have been placed on the under the tank, they need belly heat!
    I noticed that you are now using paper towel, which is great. If the UTH is proper size 1/3 the length of the tank then it should be enough on its own.
    One problem with UTH is they are usually meant to stick once and can break if they are removed.
    Do you have a piece of tile lying around if so you can place that on the hot side of the tank and the heat lamp will heat the tile allowing for belly heat. Also a hide that is made out of resin will also hold the heat better. As for the moist hide, cardboard will not hold up to moisture, your better off using a margarine tub with a lid and a hole cut in the side for an entrance and lined with moist paper towel.

    They do not need UVB lights, I'm not sure why they sold you that, they are nocturnal and sleep during the day when its light and hunt at night. UVB will burn their skin.
  20. Alright well it has been a bit since I last posted here. We have finally gotten the temps to stabilize. We are still using the 100W ceramic heater on the hot side maintaining the temp at 84F we use the 60W UV bulb but on a dimmer switch turned very low allowing that extra bit of heat to stay. She has been eating regularly approx. 15 crickets every other day. We were however curious if it would be possible to introduce a leopard gecko to the tank or if that would cause problems. I have not found any forums where anyone mentions in specific keeping two different species in the same tank.

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