Care, Health and Growth, Crested Geckos, Geckos

Floppy Tail Syndrome in Crested Geckos: What Causes Floppy Tail?

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by The Pet Engineers


Being a crested gecko pet owner, especially if you have had your crested gecko for a long time, there are chances that you may witness the tail of your crested gecko hanging or “flopping” at 90 degrees to its body when your pet is upside down on the side of its tank.

This “flopping” of your crested gecko’s tail perpendicular to its body is precisely what is called the “floppy tail syndrome” in crested geckos.

Now, the controversy that is often attached to the floppy tail syndrome is that while some crested gecko owners argue that this is just a cosmetic issue that only impacts the overall visual attractiveness of a crested gecko.

Another group of crested gecko enthusiasts argue that floppy tail syndrome, sometimes simply called the floppy tail, is a serious health issue and can impact the reproductive and overall health of a crested gecko.

So, which side of the controversy has merit? There is no conclusive answer to that.

However, regardless of whether it is a cosmetic issue or a problem with deeper impacts on the overall health, either way, it is an issue that your crested gecko faces – and big or small, as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to take care of any issue that your crested gecko may face.

That is why it is important that every crested gecko owner – novice or experienced – becomes aware of the causes, symptoms, and cures for the floppy tail syndrome in crested geckos.

4 Causes of Floppy Tail in Crested Geckos?

There is no single reason that can be pinpointed as the sole reason why your crested gecko may develop floppy tail syndrome.

Sometimes, floppy tail syndrome happens due to genetics; some other times, having a floppy tail in itself can be a symptom of a much more severe metabolic bone disease.

Floppy tail syndrome

Reason 1 – Floppy Tail Syndrome As A Genetic Condition

This reason is most widely only applicable to the crested geckos that are produced by captive breeding – crested geckos in the wild are less likely to have the genetic makeup that causes the floppy tail syndrome.

This is because during captive breeding, the chances of inbred crested geckos being produced increase.

When inbreeding happens, the genetic pool of a large number of crested geckos is very small and restricted to similar characteristics – this leaves negligible or absolutely no scope for variations in the genetic makeup.

Having a smaller gene pool naturally increases the probability of propagating the genetic makeup that leads to the floppy tail syndrome.

So, captive inbreeding can be a major cause behind the floppy tail syndrome being prevalent in pet crested geckos.

Reason 2 – Floppy Tail Syndrome As A Symptom For Metabolic Bone Disorder

Sometimes, the floppy tail syndrome in itself is a symptom of a deeper and much more serious health problem called metabolic bone disease or disorder.

The metabolic bone disorder happens due to the deficiency of calcium in the diet of a crested gecko. It leads to the weakening of the bone strength of crested geckos by reducing their bone density.

What makes the metabolic bone disorder one of the most serious health conditions is the fact that there is no foolproof treatment available for it – if your pet crested gecko develops the metabolic bone disorder, it will suffer slowly and may even pass away due to the disorder.

One symptom of the onset of metabolic bone disorder, in some crested geckos, is the development of floppy tail syndrome.

However, the good news is that simply having a floppy tail does not necessarily mean the onset of the metabolic bone disorder.

In fact, in most cases, the floppy tail syndrome is not very severe – at least not so severe as to lead to the onset of the metabolic bone disorder.

Reason 3 – Partial Autotomy As A Cause Of Floppy Tail Syndrome

Autotomy refers to the ability of geckos to self-amputate or remove their tails. Even crested geckos are capable of undergoing autotomy when stressed or threatened.

One difference between crested geckos and other gecko species that undertake autotomy as a mechanism to cope with threats or stress is that a crested gecko cannot regrow its tail, unlike the other gecko species.

Partial autotomy refers to the condition in which a crested gecko is unable to completely detach from its tail. In such a case, the tail will flop around and hang perpendicular to the body of the crested gecko.

If you observe partial autotomy in your pet crested gecko, you must immediately take it to the vet to have the tail completely removed.

This is because the tail will not be getting any flow of blood, it will eventually start decaying, and it can become gangrenous and cause fatal health issues in your crested gecko.

Floppy Tail Syndrome

Reason 4 – Improper Husbandry As A Cause Of Floppy Tail Syndrome

While crested geckos are hardy and considered to be beginner-friendly reptile pets, it is still very important to ensure that the fundamentals are taken care of in a proper manner at all times.

This includes the environmental parameters and the balance of nutrients in the diet that is being fed to the pet crested gecko.

Any lack in either of these fundamentals on part of the pet owner can lead to the pet crested gecko developing many health issues – and one such health issue is the floppy tail syndrome.

How To Treat Floppy Tail in Crested Geckos

When it comes to the treatment of the floppy tail syndrome in crested geckos, there is a piece of good news and a piece of bad news.

Bad news first – when it comes to treating a floppy tail, your options may be limited to amputating the tail. The good news, however, is that crested geckos have evolved to undertake autotomy and adapt to the absence of their tails.

So, even if you end up in a situation wherein your pet crested gecko has developed floppy tail syndrome and your vet has advised cutting the tail off, you don’t have to worry much.

Just give your crested gecko ample rest and some personal space to recoup and recover. Within a couple of days, you will see your pet returning to its routine of playing around, hunting, etc.

How To Prevent Floppy Tail in Crested Geckos

When it comes to health conditions like floppy tail syndrome, prevention is much more important than cure – because there is virtually no “cure” to the condition other than ultimately having to cut the tail off.

There are several things that you can do to ensure that your pet crested gecko remains healthy and does not develop floppy tail syndrome:

  • Ensure a healthy and balanced diet that prevents deficiency of calcium. It is very important to provide your pet crested gecko with a properly balanced diet. The deficiency of calcium, especially, can not only lead to the floppy tail syndrome but also the much more severe disorder of bones called metabolic bone disorder.
  • Maintain the environmental parameters of the enclosure of your crested gecko in the accurate ambient ranges at all times. Any ups or downs in this can cause a wide variety of health problems in your pet.
  • Keep your crested gecko entertained. Have ample foliage and enrichment in the enclosure to prevent your crested gecko from becoming lethargic and just hanging upside down in the tank.

Can You Breed A Crested Gecko With A Floppy Tail?

For a crested gecko with a floppy tail, breeding becomes difficult – especially for female crested geckos, as the floppy tail causes problems in laying and hatching the eggs.

Moreover, even if a crested gecko with a floppy tail can manage to breed, you should avoid using such a crested gecko for breeding in the first place.

See a vet to treat your crested gecko

The floppy tail syndrome may happen due to genetic makeup too – so, breeding with a crested gecko suffering from the floppy tail syndrome will only increase the risk of spreading the floppy tail syndrome in the next generation of crested geckos via the gene pool of the mating crested geckos.


The floppy tail syndrome, also called the floppy tail, has no known cure other than cutting the tail off.

But it does have a lot of precautionary measures, that when taken and followed mindfully, can prevent your pet crested gecko from developing the floppy tail syndrome.

And as goes the saying since old times – prevention is always better than cure!

So, be mindful of your husbandry towards your pet crested gecko and you will easily prevent floppy tail syndrome and almost all other health problems that can plague your pet crested gecko if proper care is not taken.

The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

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