Smooth knobby

A smooth knob-tailed gecko, Nephrurus levis

Rough knobby

Hypo and normal morph of a rough knob-tailed gecko, Nephrurus amyae

Knob-Tailed Geckos are Australian geckos of the genus Nephrurus, distinguished by having a knob-like structure on the end of their stubby tails. There are several species in the pet trade that can be overall divided into two groups: the rough knob-tails and the smooth knob-tails.

Natural HistoryEdit

Rough knob-tailed geckos are covered with spiny tubercles and live in dry and rocky areas. Smooth knob-tails, on the other hand, have smoother skin and prefer a slightly more humid environment. Both types are ravenous predators, eating ants, insects, spiders, and even smaller lizards in the wild.


As the two types of knob-tail are almost identical in requirements, they will be covered here as one. The only difference is that smooth knob-tails will need a hide box kept slightly moist, whereas rough knob-tails do not need such a shelter.

Knob-tails do not tolerate handling as well as other herps like leopard geckos, so are best kept as display animals.


All knob-tails are captive bred to the export bans put in place in their native homeland of Australia, but they are difficult to find in the pet trade. They are virtually non-existent in pet stores, and few breeders keep them. Your best bet is to go to a large reptile expo if you wish to find this gecko.


Knob-tails are not difficult to house. A standard 10-gallon aquarium provides plenty of room for a single individual, and they do not need to be kept in groups.

Fine-grain sand is a perfect substrate and will not cause impaction. The sand should be slightly moist for smooth knob-tails, as these species like to burrow. Other knob-tails may sprinkle themselves or plug their hide boxes up with sand. This is perfectly normal behavior and fun to watch.

The optimal knob-tail cage has two hiding boxes, one near the warmer side of the cage and one on the cooler. Because knob-tails are nocturnal this allows them to thermoregulate while avoiding daylight. The cooler hide box will probably be used as a retreat for when the lizard is shedding. No other cage furniture is needed, but you can add rocks and small pieces of driftwood if you wish.

Knob-tails do not need basking lights because again, they are nocturnal. An undertank heater will be a much better addition, and should raise the temperature on the warm side of the cage to suitable levels.


In captivity, knob-tails will eat actively moving insects such as calcium-dusted crickets, cockroaches, and beetles. These geckos prefer prey they can chase. Misting the cage lightly a few times each week is a good way to give knob-tails water.


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Health CareEdit

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