All About Crested Gecko Floppy Tail Syndrome

If you’ve noticed your crested gecko has a troubling new habit of flipping upside down with it’s tail flopping out at an alarming angle, you might worry. In order to keep your reptilian friend healthy, you’ll need to know about crested gecko floppy tail syndrome – what is it and what to do.

Floppy Tail Syndrome or “FPS” is a condition in which a gecko’s tail is held at an awkward angle, sometimes twisting the pelvis or resulting in a gecko’s inability to reproduce, defecate or lay eggs. It can be prevented by making sure the gecko does not form a habit of sleeping upside down and receives calcium and vitamins.

In this article, we’ll cover not only a description of what Crested Gecko Floppy Tail Syndrome is, but why some geckos have it, when you should worry, whether or not you can fix it, and a few frequently asked questions related to the topic.

What Is Crested Gecko Floppy Tail Syndrome?

According to Reptile, Floppy Tail Syndrome is sometimes abbreviated as FTS. It is a serious health condition that can plague not only crested geckos, but many other species of lizards

If your crested gecko is healthy, their tail will stay at a close angle to the glass of their tank or the ground. You may notice that your gecko has this syndrome when they hang upside down and gravity pulls the tail forward, causing it to flop down or to the side at an awkward angle.

This is not only unattractive, but it is also known to damage a crested gecko’s health, particularly in their reproductive system.

Floppy tail syndrome is a kind of hyperextension, just like the pulled muscles and injuries human athletes can get. In males, this can cause problems not only in reproducing, as previously stated, but in defecating.

For female crested geckos, laying eggs can become just as difficult as a result of floppy tail syndrome. Both of these issues are caused by the twisting of the gecko’s pelvis caused by the tail’s movement. It can also hamper their climbing ability.

The added weight of the crested gecko’s tail hanging at such an awkward angle can cause joint, muscle, and even bone deformities if left unchecked for too long.

Common Causes of Floppy Tail Syndrome

It is crucial to understand why this syndrome affects crested geckos, not just to prevent it, but to recognize it in your pet. Below are some of the common causes of floppy tail syndrome:

  • Genetics – In the same way that traits passed down through our genes can alter our overall health, a floppy tail is normally a gecko’s inheritance from its ancestors. Floppy tail syndrome is most apparent in geckos bred in captivity, which all come from a small gene pool. 
  • MBD – MDB stands for “metabolic bone disease.” It’s a type of disorder that geckos suffer from when they don’t have enough calcium in their bodies, whether from a lack of calcium in their diet or because they’re not getting enough vitamins. If this is what a gecko is suffering from, the tail might become floppy in addition to other symptoms.
  • Low Bone Density – Even if your crested gecko does not have MDB, they might be prone to a floppy tail because of broken bones. Without a healthy skeletal structure, crested geckos are much more likely to break their bones, and these include the ones responsible for keeping their tails firm.

How to Tell If Your Crested Gecko Has Floppy Tail Syndrome

The best way to be sure that your crested gecko has floppy tail syndrome instead of simply holding their tails awkwardly or having another health issue is by watching the way your gecko holds their tail. 

This may seem obvious, but as previously stated, some gecko owners notice a gecko’s tail flopping at a nearly 90-degree angle from their bodies while sleeping upside down, stuck to the side of their tank. 

However, this could simply be the result of gravity on the tail and a mild breakdown of the tail’s muscular resistance to that gravity, especially if sleeping upside down has become your pet’s habit.

Watch and see the way that your gecko’s tail behaves during its waking hours. While awake, a gecko will be active, using its tail to climb. If your gecko is not wrapping its tail around the things it climbs on, it’s time to start considering that they are suffering from floppy tail syndrome.

When To Worry About Floppy Tail Syndrome

If your gecko’s tail only flops when it is sleeping upside down and has no trouble wrapping their tail around branches and structures while awake and climbing, you may not need to start worrying about their condition.

However, if your crested gecko is exhibiting bumps around the eyes and snout, is lethargic, and seems to have difficulty pooping, then it may be time to worry. In the rest of the article, we’ll cover how to prevent or fix floppy tail syndrome, so you won’t have to worry for long! 

Is It FTS Or A Broken Tail?

Many geckos have the amazing ability to self-amputate their tails. This can help them escape predators in the wild, but sometimes lizards and geckos with this ability will drop their tails as a result of stress or trauma.

These reptiles are capable of doing this thanks to fracture plates in the length of the tail’s structure. The tail will break off in segments near these plates. However, a crested gecko only has one fracture plate near the base of their tail, where the tail connects to the rest of the body. 

Otherwise, a crested gecko’s tail has no remaining fracture plates and is made up of an extension of the spine’s bone. This means that while a crested gecko can drop it’s tail, it cannot regrow it, and in addition to that, the bone of the tail may break without the tail detaching.

When this is the case, a broken tail can look very similar to a gecko with floppy tail syndrome. In order to be sure, look for where a crested gecko’s tail begins to flop and lose it’s autonomy. If it flops from the pelvis onward, it is likely that the issue is FTS. However, if the tail is flopping anywhere further down the length of it, it is more likely that there is a break in the bone.

To be totally sure, it is best to take your crested gecko to a specialist or a professional veterinarian. This way, you can move on to treating the issue correctly.

Can You Fix Floppy Tail Syndrome?

Now that we’ve covered how to tell if floppy tail syndrome is, indeed, what your gecko is suffering from, let’s talk about how to help your little pet! Unfortunately, there are no known medications to treat FTS. Luckily, there are some other ways to treat floppy tail syndrome.

  • Natural Remedies
  • Exercise ; Therapy

Let’s take a closer look at these possible preventions or cures for floppy tail syndrome in crested geckos!

Natural Remedies To Consider For FTS

While there aren’t many natural remedies for a crested gecko with floppy tail syndrome, there are a few ways you can help them recover without medication or at home. 

One option is to simply set your crestie’s tank up in a way that helps it to support it’s own tail and build strength back up in the area of damage. You can also do this in a way that discourages the crested gecko sleeping upside down on the walls of the tank, which can stress it’s condition.

Many crested geckos get their stimulation out of climbing. Without enough objects in the environment of their tank, they’ll revert to hanging out on the walls and exacerbating their floppy tails. Therefore, make sure your crested gecko has so many plants and obstacles to climb on, they won’t consider the boring tank walls!

You can also do this in a strategic way that blocks your gecko’s access to the tank walls. The only downside to covering the tank walls with a spread of leafy foliage is that you may not be able to see the gecko as easily.

Another natural remedy that can prevent floppy tail syndrome is by making sure your sticky reptilian friend is getting all the calcium they need. This way, the crestie’s bones will stay healthy and firm and be less likely to suffer from floppy tail syndrome.

This can be done by feeding the gecko calcium supplements. The vitamins and minerals they need can be gained through a UV lamp, as well.

Exercise ; Therapy

You can encourage your crested gecko to exercise in a way that strengthens the area of their pelvis and tail which is responsible for floppy tail syndrome. This is done by making sure there are plenty of entertaining structures for a crested gecko to play on in their tank.

It can also be done by feeding your reptilian buddy some live prey! Crested geckos like to eat fruit, but if you place crickets or roaches in the tank, it will encourage them to chase their food in a way that acts as therapeutic to the gecko’s health.

In conclusion, if your crested gecko’s floppy tail syndrome has progressed to the point that they cannot poop, reproduce, or lay eggs, it is time to take them to a specialist or vet for help!

How to Catch Floppy Tail Syndrome Early For Prevention

The only known way to reverse floppy tail syndrome is by catching it early. Therefore, follow the steps below, a summary of our previous points, to make sure you are aware of the signs FTS may show:

  1. Observe the diet of your crestie and feed it vitamins and calcium supplements.
  2. Make sure they are not sleeping on the side of the tank or upside down.
  3. Keep the tank full of vegetation that restricts access to the walls of the tank.

As long as you make sure to stay on top of these three steps, your crested gecko will have every chance of avoiding floppy tail syndrome, and you’ll have every chance of noticing it before it goes too far!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions related to crested geckos and Floppy Tail Syndrome!

Will they die younger because of floppy tail syndrome?

If a crested gecko has a floppy tail, but it is not affecting their ability to defecate, there isn’t any evidence that they’ll die quicker than the average lifespan of their species allows. 

Are they in pain?

Unfortunately, yes, if the crested gecko is suffering from floppy tail syndrome, they are probably experiencing some pain. This pain could simply be from the twisting of the pelvic area, but if your crested gecko is having symptoms from advanced stages of floppy tail syndrome, they may experience gut pain, too.

Will Their Behavior Change?

Some crested geckos who only have floppy tail syndrome for a short period of time thanks to the preventative measures of their owners will not show very different behavior habits. They will likely keep climbing and eating and living as normal while awake.

However, if a crested gecko’s floppy tail syndrome is advanced to the point where they are unable to defecate or use their tails for balance, expect some changes. For example, a crested gecko may become lethargic and stop eating as a result of it’s inability to poop.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, a crested gecko with floppy tail syndrome will be characterized by sleeping upside down with a tail at an angle of around 90 degrees. If the condition is serious and not treated in any way, the gecko may become unable to defecate or reproduce, or even lay eggs. 

Although floppy tail syndrome is not treatable with medication or is technically reversible, it can be prevented in the early stages of a gecko’s habits. Make sure your gecko’s habitat is full of things to climb on besides the walls, is kept at a good temperature, and their diet is full of calcium and vitamins!

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