Autotomy from the words “auto” meaning “self” and “tomos” which means “cut”, tail autotomy in Tokay geckos is the voluntary dropping of their tails as part of their defense mechanism. Tokay geckos or geckos in general do not autotomize their digits. If your gecko’s toes are falling off, it might be a serious health problem that requires the immediate attention of your veterinarian.
Tail autotomy is used by Tokay geckos as an escape mechanism, the movement or twitching of the severed tail is intended to draw the predator's attention to give them the time to escape. Though they can grow back their tails there are 5 reasons why you do not want your Tokay gecko to loss its tail.
- It stresses your Tokay gecko. Though they loss very minimal amount of blood during tail autotomy, this process can be very painful and uncomfortable for your Tokay gecko. They may even refuse to eat for a few days after they loss their tail, which can lead to weight loss.
Also, tailless Tokay geckos (as in the case of female and young geckos) are vulnerable to bullying. Tailless female Tokay geckos may find it hard to find a mate.
- Your Tokay gecko losses its fat reserves. Tail loss in Tokay geckos means loss of fat and protein reserve. Also during this stage, Tokay geckos require more protein to be able to regrow their tails. This means you need to provide them with high protein food – you need to feed them more often if they lose their tail.
- Their tail will never look the same as the original. While they can grow their tail back, it will never look as beautiful as the original tail. The new tail may look duller and shorter than the original. So if you price your Tokay gecko for its gorgeous appearance, the more you don’t want your gecko to loss its tail.
- They can be at risk of infection. Normally, when a Tokay gecko drops its tail, the veins near the base of their tail contracts to avoid excessive loss of blood but it leaves an open wound which can be vulnerable to infection. Though they can pretty well handle themselves and may require little to no intervention from their owners, it is best that you keep the environment clean and as much as possible avoid anything from getting into the open wound. This means, if you have loose substrate such as soil, or any natural bedding, it is best to replace it with a paper towel.
- It takes time to grow their tail back. Normally, with sufficient feeding, Tokay geckos can grow their tail back in one month. However, poorly fed geckos may take longer period to grow their tails back. So if you don’t want waiting this long better not allow that they loss their tails or if it’s too late for that, you may want to feed them with foods high in protein.
Tail loss is costly. Not only does it mean that you need to spend more for the food of your Tokay gecko but most importantly the stress that it cause your Tokay gecko is enough that you want to avoid tail loss. Stressed geckos are very much vulnerable to sickness and illnesses. To avoid this, you may want to treat your Tokay gecko with special care especially when handling them. Avoid grabbing them by their tail and separate any dominant gecko at the first sign of bullying as tail loss is more prevalent in young geckos as a result of a fight with their cage mates.