Crested gecko morph guide
Morph, traits, colors can all be hard to navigate in and understand all the different types. With this guide, I try my best to illustrate and describe the different kinds of coloration, traits and morphs that exist in crested geckos.
I plan on include more info, pictures of actual geckos and details with time, but I hope you find the guide as it is now, useful.
Let's start with morphs. Overall there's only a handfull of morphs in crested geckos. The morphs is patternless, bicolor, brindle, tiger, flame, harlequin, extreme harlequin, axanthic and lilly white. But even though there's only a handful of morphs, crested geckos can be found in a lot of appearances, because they can each look so different cause of each combinations of morph, the patterns shape, traits, structure etc.
Crested gecko genetics are not like most other reptiles genetic, because other reptiles morphs mostly work on dominant and recessive genes, and crested geckos are "polygenic" (multiple genes controlling their phenotype). That means you can't predict offspring the same way as dominant and recessive morphs, it's more random, but the parents still have a big influence on how the offspring will turn out.
The offspring will take characteristics from both parents, and all babies can look different from each other. So even though you can't predict that e.g. 50% is going to be extreme harlequin and 50% is going to be bicolor, the genes the parents show and hide, have influence on what you're going to produce. So with crested geckos, it's about doing your best to selective breed towards what you wish to produce.
Note that mostly when a gecko hatch, it often don't seem like much. They develop a lot with color and pattern from hatch to adult (mostly to the better). This is also why people often show parents photos, so it gives an idea of how the gecko will end up looking, or what the animal can produce in the next generation.
When describing the back and sides, the back will be called dorsal, and the sides will be referred to as lateral.
As the describtion say, patternless geckos don't have any pattern and is one solid color. They vary in color from brown, to olive, yellow, orange, red, etc.
Bicolor have two shades of the same color: One hue on the body, and a different one usually on the dorsum and head.
Tiger geckos have a light base color with darker bands that run from one side, over the dorsal, and down onto their other side. Most often found in a shade of brown or beige.
Brindles are very similar to tigers, but the bands of pattern are broken up, and don't run trough the side and dorsal in one consistent line.
flame crested geckos will have a base color with a lighter color on the dorsal and laterals. Flames will show little to no pattern on their laterals or legs.
Harlequin geckos are much like flames, but with more pattern on the laterals (sides) and legs.
An extreme harlequin gecko is a harlequin with even more pattern, covering more of the upper lateral. Sometimes the pattern on the sides even connect to the dorsal pattern.
Most crested gecko morphs is polygenic as mentioned above, but the two genes Lilly white and Axanthic is proven out to be co-dominant and recessive genes. So statistically speaking you can predict how much of the outcome that will be lilly white or axanthic - or het axanthic, depending on the pairing.
Even though you can predict (statistically speaking) how many of the babies, that are going to be lilly white e.g., the other parent or/and grand parents are still gonna have a big influence on how the babies will turn out, both the non-lilly and lilly white offspring.
Lilly white is a co-dominant gene, and is recognized with their significant white-cream coloring. Lilly whites is often some kind of harlequin with pinstripe, but can be found in a lot of variations, e.g. phantom lilly white.
The lilly white gene is discovered by lilly exotics, and you can read more about the gene here.
The axanthic gene is a recessive gene, and removes yellow pigment, leaving axanthic crested geckos in black, grey and white hues.
Axanthic is a rather new discovered gene in crested geckos. Especially Altitude exotics have worked with the gene, and have also succeed to produce axanthic lilly whites.
Traits describe some of the smaller things about the appearance on the gecko, that isn't 'big' enough to go under being a morph. There's many traits that can appear along with the morphs listed above.
White fringe is when the back side of each hind leg is lined with white.
Kneecaps is when the knees of each hind leg is lined with white.
If a gecko is called drippy, it means it has pattern that "drips" downward from the dorsal.
White wall crested geckos will have a solid block of white cream color on the lower lateral section.
Portholes are white/cream dots, usually three, on each side of the gecko.
Pinstripe is a trait, that exits in various forms, and describe the raised scales running down the crested geckos dorsal. These raised scales can be highlighted with a cream color, or not
Full pinstripe / 100% pinstripe
Full pinstripe is when the raised scales down it's dorsal, are highlighted with a cream color, and run down their entire length of their body, connecting to the tail.
Full pinstripe / 100% pinstripe
A full pinstripe don't necessarily have a highlightet crown, but just their whole dorsal is raised and highlighted.
When there's breaks in the pinstripe, and only 50-99% of the raised scales are highlighted, it's called a partipal pinstripe.
It's called a dashed pinstripe when under 50% of the crest is pinstriped.
Quadstripe is when the gecko have the standard pinstripe or structure, and in addition have two well defined lines along the top of the lower lateral area of the crested gecko's body.
A superstripe have 5 perfect stripes. 2 quadstripes, 2 pinstripes, and one clean dorsal stripe, not too wide.
Superstripe is a recessive trait.
Reverse pinstripes are non-structural darker stripes that run just along beneath the dorsal scales.
Reverse pinning can be in addition to the other pinstripe traits.
Crested geckos can have spots around their body, called dalmatian spots. With certain amounts they're referred to as dalmatian or super dalmatian. The spots can be different sizes and shapes, sometimes called ink spots/ink blots when the spots are larger than normal and irregular shaped.
Hatchlings don't always show many spots, but develop more spots with age.
Dal spots are mostly black, but can also be green and red. When dalmatians both having black, green and red spots, they're sometimes called confetti dalmatians.
This trait can be seen on all crested gecko morphs and traits.
With dal spots
When having a few spots here and there, often just add "with dal spots" to the description of the geckos appearance. They usually go by that description when having less than 50 spots.
The number of spots isn't really the determining factor to tell if a crested gecko is described as dalmatian, super dalmatian or just 'with dal spots'. You need to look at their overall appearance when determining what they are.
A dalmatian have at least 50 spots, and have a fair about of spots across their entire body.
Super dalmatians have a significant number of spots, I usually say 100+ spots.
And then there's colors. All morphs can be found in a vary of different base and pattern colors. Describing specific colors will always include the body/leg color before the secondary color.
Beside that, there's also names for color combinations, such as tricolor, creamcircle and halloween I will describe further.
I just want to note, that crested geckos can change color, though they do not change colors like a chameleon. With crested geckos we use the terms "fired up" and "fired down" for this color change.
Fired down the gecko appears pale or muted in color, while fired up the colors are much more apparent and the gecko often have more constrast in the colors. The colors described below, will be the definition of the color/s the gecko have when fired up.
Lets start with base colors. There's a lot of different colors, not all are illustrated here, and I probably won't get to mention everyone of them, but some of the most common are: buckskin/brown, olive, yellow, orange, red, dark brown-black, and cream.
Reds can vary from bright red to a more dark red brick color
Somestimes called "yet black" when it's pretty much looks black in color.
These illustrations isn't to show pattern, but to show the color combinations, because the color combinations can be any variation of morphs and traits. For example harlequin, extreme harlequin, flame, and often also displaying traits such as pinstripe, dal spots, knee caps etc.
Creamcircle is when the base pattern is vibrant yellow or orange with a white-cream pattern.
Halloween crested geckos have a dark brown-black base color and bright orange patteren. If the gecko have any yellow or cream colors, they're not considered halloween.
A tricolor shows three distinct colors. Each distinct color should represents roughly a third of the overall color/pattern on the gecko.
They're seen in a variety of different base colors as brown, black, red etc.
The pattern is typical yellow ish or orange with cream or white mixed into the sides and sometimes the dorsal.
Example of a tricolor colored gecko with a red base color.