14 Crested Gecko Morphs: Understanding Genetics

Crested Geckos were discovered in 1866 and were not seen for many decades after. This caused us to believe they were extinct until they were rediscovered in 1994. Meaning they’re a Lazarus species (Lazarus taxon).


Since then, Crested Geckos have increased in popularity among reptile hobbyists. Through specific breeding, we’ve managed to discover different morphs through their genetic mutations. 

In this article, I’m going to discuss 14 different morphs and the unique Crested Gecko genome that sets them apart from other reptile species.

14 Types Of Crested Gecko Morphs

The word “morph” refers to a specific visual variation or genetic trait that sets an individual gecko apart from others of the same species. 

Crested Gecko morphs include various characteristics, such as coloration patterns, body markings, and overall appearance. 

These morphs are the result of genetic mutations or combinations of genes producing unique and distinct features in Crested Geckos.

Below are the 14 most popular Crested Gecko morphs.

Brindle Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Zee’s Exotics

The Brindle Crested Gecko has fragmented and uneven stripes across their body, giving their body a marbling effect.

The color of Brindle Crested Geckos can be anything, but the more common colors are brown, yellow, and pale red. 

Breeders aim for lighter colors when breeding because they complement the darker brindle patterns.

Bicolor Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: FringeMorph.com

The Bicolor Crested Gecko has two distinct colors from the same color family on the color wheel. One lighter and one darker.

Typically it will be the lighter of the two colors running down the dorsal of the gecko and the darker color running down the sides.

Even though the Bicolor Crested Gecko is patternless, it has its own name as a morph because of the dual tones running down the body, making it unique.

Tricolor Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Gaea Geckos

The Tricolor Crested Gecko is exactly what it says on the tin, three different colors. These three colors can be an array of combinations such as; red, yellow, and orange or green, black, and cream.

Tricolor Crested Geckos can come with patterns of stripes, spots, or solid patches of color across their body.

Dalmatian Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Gaea Geckos

The Dalmatian Crested Gecko gets its name because of the Dalmatian dog breed, they’re covered in sporadic dark spots. The difference is the spots on the Dalmatian Crested Gecko can be black, green, or red.

This specific genetic mutation can occur on any morph regardless of their other visible traits.

Some sticklers for the rules claim for a Crested Gecko to be truly named a Dalmatian morph, the spots have to be accompanied by little to no patterns on the body.

Fun Fact: The Dalmatian Crested Gecko morph doesn’t require specific breeding, it can occur in the wild.

Flame Crested Gecko

The Flame Crested Gecko has similarities to the Bicolor Crested Gecko morph, the difference being the contrast and colorations. 

The contrasting color of a Flame Crested Gecko will differ from the base color and usually be white, cream, yellow, or orange. The contrasting color will run down the head and dorsum of the gecko.

Flame Crested Gecko is named after the patterns and colorations resembling flames running down the back of their bodies.

These are one of the most bred Crested Geckos and for good reason. These are my favorite Crested Gecko morph, I find their look mesmerizing to see.

Harlequin Crested Gecko

The Harlequin Crested Gecko looks similar to the Flame Crested Gecko but they have more patterning on their legs and tails.

Harlequin Crested Geckos have base colors of black, dark brown, or orange and a contrasting color of cream and brown patterns. Along the sides, legs, and tail you’ll see yellow or cream colored stripes.

Halloween Crested Gecko

The Halloween Crested Gecko comes in a color combination of black and orange, earning the Halloween-styled name. 

A Crested Gecko who displays contrasting patterns of yellow or cream instead of orange will not be classified as a Halloween morph.

Lilly White Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Lilly Exotics

This Crested Gecko does not come cheap because of its rarity. It was discovered in 2010 by Lilly Exotics – A UK-based reputable breeder. 

The Lilly White Crested Gecko has white and pale cream colors prominent on the head, back, tail, and underbelly of the gecko.

This morph is a co-dominant genetic, meaning the genes are passed onto the gecko’s offspring with bred with other morph types.

Lavender Crested Gecko

Lavender Crested Geckos are a mix of two morphs; Black Crested Geckos and Hypomelanism Crested Geckos. Because of the hypomelanistic traits their usual dark patterns and colors turn cream or white.

Lavender Crested Geckos have a purple-gray base color, when fired up the shades of purple will be more visible as opposed to when they’re fired down, the grays will look less saturated.

Pinstripe Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Gaea Geckos

The Pinstripe Crested Gecko morph is thought of as a structural trait and has raised colored scales.

The scales run down the outside of the dorsal and can start from the head all the way to the base of the tail. The scales can match the color of the dorsal or contrast against it. 

There are three variations of Pinstripe Crested Geckos:

  • Full Pinstripe Crested Gecko

The lines of scales must go from the eyes all the way to the base of the tail to be considered a full pinstripe.

  • Partial Pinstripe Crested Gecko

When the lines of scales have breaks in them and do not connect all the way from the eyes to the base of the tail they’ll be considered a partial pinstripe.

  • Reverse Pinstripe Crested Gecko

A reverse pinstripe is not a structural trait and displays reverse pinning creating a shadow effect on the outside and underneath the pinstripes. These darker colors will run down the top of the lateral area beneath the dorsum.

Phantom Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Gaea Geckos

The Phantom Crested Gecko has altered patterns and texture of its dorsal scales. Another name for it is the Phantom Pinstripe Crested Gecko.

This gecko has two rows of dark raised scales running down from the head to the base of the tail. They have a dark base color and white/cream patches on the base of the tail and the belly.

The Phantom Crested Gecko morph is made up of two recessive genes and is known to be hard to replicate and breed with consistency.

Tiger Crested Gecko

Photo Credit: Fringemorph.com

The Tiger Crested Gecko has base colors of yellow or light tan and displays dark horizontal stripes going from side to side resembling tiger stripes.

Tiger Crested Geckos have been bred for years, and breeding experts have used this morph to exaggerate other morphs traits like the Flame Crested Gecko, Harlequin Crested Gecko, and Pinstripe Crested Gecko.

Red Crested Gecko

The Red Crested Gecko is a natural morph, often observed in the wild populations of Crested Gecko.

A true Red Crested Gecko will have solid colorations and no contrasting colors. Whereas some variants of this morph can appear with browny-red or more orangey-red hues on the sides of their body.

Yellow Crested Gecko

The Yellow Crested Gecko is one of the first morphs created after their rediscovery in 1994. They have bright yellow base colors, creamy yellow bellies, and darker heads.

This morph is known in the wild so to get the brightest version of this morph, specific breeding of the brightest individuals was used to make this hue more vibrant.

Understanding Crested Gecko Genome

The Crested Gecko genome is still being studied as it differs from other reptiles such as Leopard Geckos and Ball Pythons.

Difference In Crested Gecko Genetics

Reptiles like Bearded Dragons, Ball Pythons, and Leopard Geckos morphs are determined by dominant, recessive, and co-dominant genetics. Making breeding for specific outcomes easy to conduct.

However, the Crested Gecko genetics have not yet been documented for how their traits are passed onto offspring. It is a less predictable and more sporadic breeding process. They do still inherit traits from their parents, but factors such as environment play a role.

What Is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics refers to external factors affecting gene expression.

An example of epigenetics taking place is when Crested Gecko eggs are being incubated, if it is done for extended periods of time and lower temperatures it will affect the crest size and tail pads of Crested Geckos when hatching.

What Is Polygenetics?

Traits passed down to offspring from their parents are controlled by multiple genes referred to as polygenes.

Each gene inherited by the offspring can either strengthen or weaken physical attributes of Crested Geckos making some more or less dominant.

Examples of inherited traits controlled by polygenetics are:

  • The quantity and variety of pinstripes
  • Porthole locations on the body
  • Dorsal ridges and raised scales
  • Coloration differences, specifically in base colors

Crested Gecko Genes

Although Crested Geckos seem difficult to understand, we’re getting closer.

An example of this is the Lilly White Crested Gecko, we understand the genes in this specific morph are co-dominant and recessive. 

This means we can predict the amount of hatchlings that’ll be Lilly-White morphs prior to the hatching process.

Although we have a greater understanding, a prediction is just that, a prediction, and can be wrong. The inherent lineage of the Crested Gecko can alter their genes and determine the outcome.

FAQs

What Is The Most Common Crested Gecko Morph?

The normal/ wild-type Crested Gecko is the most common type of Crested Gecko morph. These are found in the wild and have brown or gray base colors with white or yellow spots and stripe patterns.

What Is A Crested Gecko Line?

A Crested Gecko line is essentially the family tree for this reptile. It is a way of identifying specific looks and characteristics of their offspring by looking back at their family line ancestry. 

Can You Breed Different Crested Gecko Morphs?

You’re able to breed any form of Crested Gecko so long as they’re healthy. 

Remember Crested Geckos’ genetics are sporadic so even for experienced breeders predicting the outcome of the morphs is difficult. 

You could breed a new morph entirely, or get something you weren’t expecting. It’s always an interesting time when breeding these reptiles.

Summary

Crested Gecko morphs have never ceased to amaze me, they come in a range of colors and patterns. There’s a type of Crested Gecko morph for everyone’s personal preference.

Even if it’s not the Crested Gecko itself you’re interested but the science behind their genetics there is no end to this intriguing reptile.