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Deciphering Crested Gecko Patterns, Morphs, and Traits

Posted by Mike V on


"One of the most confusing - and exciting - things about crested geckos is the variety of colors, patterns, and traits that they display."
- Joe, my neighbor

So how do you know if your gecko is a “Flame” or a “Tiger”? The honest truth is that when you come across verbiage like “Flame”, “Tiger”, “Harlequin”, “Brindle”, or even “C2 Citrus” – it’s not entirely that important.   If you think your gecko looks awesome… we say that is good enough!

But I digress. It actually is helpful to make sense of the madness, and as a breeder, it can help to keep your projects organized and on track. In fact, much of the interest in crested geckos is centered around stabilizing and improving on favorable colors, patterns, and traits – and when an attractive new morph is successfully reproduced through selective breeding, they are often given a new name – typically which will later be referred to as a “designer morph”. And if you are lucky enough to consistently produce a crested gecko morph that has never been seen before, you might be able to slap on your own, cool label as well.

So let’s go over the conventions -

Most hobbyists have agreed that the best way to describe a crested gecko’s appearance is by referring to their three distinguishing features: colors, patterns, and physical attributes (traits). Moreover, the term “morph” is a general description used to categorize one or a combination of these features. For example, a crested gecko with an orange base color and cream or white pattern is usually considered a “Creamsicle” designer morph. It is important to add that traits, such as dalmatian or pinstripe, are independent characteristics that can be combined with more than just one pattern. Crested geckos may exhibit multiple colors and traits, but are normally only described with one pattern or morph.

When describing a crested gecko, you can start by pointing out the animal’s distinguishing base color, pattern color, morph, and independent traits - typically in that order. For example… Can I interest you in a Chocolate [base color] and Cream [pattern color] Harlequin [morph] Partial Pinstripe [trait]? Although there is some push for an official standard, this is by no means an absolute rule and breeders have the right to describe their own products however they’d like to. New lines and morphs are appearing all the time, terminology is often used interchangeably, and the whole process can just be downright confusing. When in doubt, just smile, nod… and pretend like you understand.

Although brand new colors, patterns, and traits are introduced to the Crested Gecko hobby on a regular basis, some of the most common characteristics you will find today are described below.

Colors

Crested geckos can come in various shades of many different colors, and multiple colors can be found on a single gecko.   Some of these colors are:

    • Red
    • Orange
    • Yellow
    • Olive
    • Brown
    • Tan (Buckskin)
    • Chocolate
    • Lavender
    • Cream

Patterns/ Morphs

Patternless – solid color with no patterning

Bi-Color – patternless with two colors; one color on dorsal and second color on sides and legs

Chevron – Bi-Color with high-contrast V-shaped patterns along dorsal stripe

Flame (Fire) – two-colored with distinct, high-contrast colored pattern along dorsal stripe, and minimal patterning on body and legs

Harlequin – Flame with high-contrast patterning on dorsal as well as heavy patterning on sides and legs

Tiger – solid color with darker, tiger-like stripes across the body and down the sides

Brindle – Tiger with uneven or broken stripes

Traits

Pinstripe – raised white or cream-colored scales that run from the base of the neck down each side of the dorsal, connecting at the base of the tail. If pinstriping is incomplete, it can be referred to as “partial pinstripe”

Reverse Pinstripe – dark-colored stripes along the outside edges of the dorsum scales

Phantom Pinstripe – raised pinstripe scales that are lacking white or cream colors

Quad Pinstripe – containing dorsal pinstripes as well as lateral stripes between the front and back legs

Dalmatian Spots – scattered small to large black spots

White fringe – white or cream-colored lines along the back side of the hind-legs

Portholes – row of white spots or patches on the lateral (side) areas

Lateral stripes – elongated portholes that look like dashes or stripes

Blushing – reddish-pink coloring in area below the lower jaw

Physical Morphs

Crowned – extra-wide head, where sides of head droop down slightly

Furred – enlarged crest scales that run all the way to the tail, giving a furry appearance

Designer Morphs

Creamsicle – orange flame or harlequin; orange base color with white or creamy dorsal patterning

Moonglow –patternless with white or near-white coloring

Blonde – dark brown flame or harlequin; dark chocolate base color with very light dorsal patterning

Halloween – harlequin with black or near-black base and orange patterning

Tri-color – harlequin with three distinct colors

Cream-on-Cream – light colored base and creamy dorsal

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