Crested geckos have been bred over generations to have specific color and pattern morphs.
These variations are caused by genetic mutations that control colors, traits and patterns.
Standard crested geckos are normally tan, olive, orange and brown, with a lighter hued back and head. Crested gecko morphs come in almost every color of the rainbow, with a dazzling array of patterns to match.
Have you ever heard of a flame crested morph? What about a harlequin?
Keep reading for a list of the top 20 morphs and their colors, patterns and genetics.
Types of Crested Gecko Morphs
Harlequin crested geckos are easy to spot because of their contrasting cream and brown markings.
Geckos of this morph have a base color of dark brown, orange, or black, with yellow or cream mottled striping. This cream mottled striping can appear almost white on their sides, legs and tails.
Harlequins look similar to the flame morph, but have more patterning on their legs and tail.
Extreme harlequins have sharper white and cream patterns than normal, but both display the same mottled striping pattern, which makes them more desirable for breeding.
All harlequin crested geckos have the same basic dappled pattern, but can vary in color. Other varieties include the lavender and cream harlequin, red harlequin, tricolor harlequin and chocolate harlequin.
Harlequins are a popular and well-loved crested gecko morph and are usually priced around $100.
In rare cases, especially high contrast extreme individuals, they can be sold for over $800!
Lilly white crested geckos are a rare and sought-after morph. They are famous for their unusually high amounts of white and pale cream. Lilly whites typically have pale cream heads, backs, tails, and underbellies, with brown speckling on the sides.
This type of gecko was first discovered in 2010 by the UK-based breeder, Lilly Exotics.
Lilly white is a codominant type, meaning it will appear in offspring even when crossed with other types.
Breeding two lilly white geckos together will create a “super” morph. Unfortunately super lilly whites rarely hatch, and if they do, never survive longer than a few hours. The reasons for this are still unclear to breeders.
The flame crested gecko is another common crested gecko and one of the most widely bred.
Flame crested geckos have a deep brown or red base color with cream, orange, and yellow markings on their backs.
These cream, orange, and yellow markings are multi-colored and layered in a way that makes them look like fire. These “flames” can extend onto the sides, but are mostly seen on the back and tail.
Having markings on just their back and tail sets them apart from other types, like tiger or harlequin, which have markings on their sides and legs too.
When crested geckos get excited or communicate with each other, their colors brighten and become bolder. This phenomenon is known as “firing up.” When fired up, the reds, oranges and yellows of the flame stand out!
Dalmatian crested geckos are patterned with black spots over their bodies, from head to tail.
This is actually a genetic trait that can occur naturally in the wild. It is also common in some types of uromastyx and is often called a true morph.
The dalmatian trait simply adds spots on top of existing morphs, instead of totally changing the base color and pattern.
Some dalmatians appear speckled or peppered with black, while others have large, clear black spots that nearly obscure their base color. The amount of spotting is unique to each individual.
Generally speaking, larger spots are more desirable.
Surprisingly, breeding two dalmatians with plenty of spots can produce geckos with almost no spots. The opposite is also true, as sometimes breeding two dalmatians with fewer spots results in offspring with much greater spotting than the parents.
The axanthic crested gecko is one of the more recent species.
Lizards that are axanthic do not have the ability to produce yellow and red pigments. Therefore, their base color and pattern will not have any yellow, orange, or brown hues.
Axanthic is the result of a rare genetic mutation in reptiles, it is also seen in ball python morphs.
Crested geckos can be either full axanthic or het axanthic.
Full axanthic means they carry two copies of the mutation. These lizards will be a deep, rich black with scattered white markings.
Het axanthic crested geckos carry only a single copy of the mutation, which reduces the levels of red and yellow in their skin. Het axanthics appear grayish and dull, even when fired up.
Pinstripe crested geckos have a double line of pale, raised scales that run parallel down the edges of their backs.
These geckos are classified by the completeness of these lines. Geckos with unbroken lines are referred to as full or ‘100%’ pinstripes, while those with dashed or faded lines are called partial pinstripes.
Full pinstripe geckos often have lines all the way from the corners of their eyes to the middle of their tails.
Pinstriping is a single, independent trait, rather than a true morph.
This means it can be combined with different types to create truly unique crested geckos of various colors and patterns.
The base color of a pinstripe can be any crested gecko color. The most common pinstripe cross is the pinstripe harlequin, which has the pinstripe scales and the multi-colored harlequin pattern.
The Halloween morph is a favorite among crested gecko keepers, especially those just starting out.
Their popularity stems from a combination of one-of-a-kind look, affordable price and wide availability. Most can be bought for under $300, though specialty crosses like extreme Halloween harlequins can sell for quite a bit more.
Halloween crested geckos are a soft, deep black or brown base color, contrasted with an orange head, back, and side. The hue of the orange pattern varies between hatchlings, some are mottled in bright orange, while others are clay-colored.
When relaxed, Halloweens typically look closer to gray or lavender with tan markings.
Once fired up, the Halloween morph becomes stunningly vibrant.
The red crested gecko is a very common color morph that also occurs naturally in wild populations.
Red cresties have very little patterning and a deep, red hue.
The richer and more complete the red color, the more desirable and expensive the gecko will be.
Poorer quality red morphs will have muddy or orangey-red colors, which may be interspersed with browns and tans. These are the red crested geckos most often found for sale in pet stores and are usually priced close to $300.
True red crested geckos will have an even, solid red base color with little interruption from other hues. These are breeder-grade and the most expensive.
Red morphs are widely used as a starting point for breeding programs because they are readily available and combine well with other traits.
Tigering is a basic pattern in crested geckos that has been refined over decades of selective breeding.
Tiger crested geckos have a light base color (typically tan or yellow) with darker stripes that run perpendicular to their spine. These stripes can look like the stripes on a tiger.
Interestingly, the tiger trait is not a specific morph and can be bred out of any lineage.
Even when no visible stripes are present, the tiger gene will determine how much a pattern breaks or varies over a crested gecko’s back.
Some breeders have used this unique gene to enhance the characteristics of morphs like the flame, harlequin and pinstripe.
Blonde is often used to describe individuals with a specific color and pattern.
The blonde morph does not have a set of specific traits that make it unique enough to be its own category. Any crested gecko that matches the description below is considered a blonde morph, no matter its genotype.
These crested geckos have pale cream, white, or yellow harlequin or flame markings and a dark brown base color.
Flames or harlequins that are dark-colored with light cream patterns are often called blonde.
As long as the individual has a dark brown or mahogany base color with exclusively cream or yellow markings, it can be called blonde.
The lavender is a combination of two other morphs: black and hypomelanism.
A lavender crested gecko has a purplish gray base color, along with the lightening of any other markings. Their hypo trait causes their patterns to turn cream or white, instead of their natural, dark colors.
When fired down, the base colors are a lighter gray with a less saturated tone.
Once fired up, this color will darken slightly and take on the purple that gives this morph its name.
The lavender trait only impacts the crested gecko’s base color. This means it can be paired with pattern morphs such as dalmatian, snowflake or pinstripe.
The brindle looks very similar to the tiger crested gecko, but with a slightly different striping pattern. While tiger morphs have side-to-side stripes, brindle crested geckos have fragmented and uneven stripes.
Their pattern can look like marbling, latticework or elongated spots.
Brindles have markings that are dark brown, orange or red and are concentrated on the back and sides.
Stripes can sometimes be found on their legs, but this type of patterning is not common.
Brindle morphs can be any color, but are usually light reds, tans and yellows. Lighter colors are preferred by breeders because they contrast more with the darker brindle pattern. Brindle x dalmatians are popular because they can show both the striped brindle pattern and the dalmatian spots!
These crested geckos sell for $75-300 as they are one of the more common colors.
Yellow crested geckos look just like they sound: yellow!
The best examples are geckos with a bright, clean, sandy yellow base color, a pale belly and darker head.
‘Yellow’ can be used to describe any crested gecko with a yellow base color or pattern. This means any individual with a slight yellowish tint, or yellow markings, can be called yellow.
The shade and intensity of yellow will depend on their parents and any other traits they inherit.
This morph is common in the wild, so all that needed to be done was to selectively breed the brightest individuals to enhance the morph’s color. The yellow was first selectively bred in the early 2000s when crested geckos were still new to the hobby.
The patternless trait produces crested geckos with a solid base color and no markings.
Patternless crested geckos can be any color, but usually have shades of orange, yellow, red and brown. They must have no trace of a visible pattern at all.
This is a recessive trait, so both parents must be patternless or carry the trait.
The patternless morph is a favorite with breeders who want to create crested geckos with reduced patterns.
This morph is perhaps the most controversial of all because it does not exist.
Moonglow crested geckos should be entirely white, including their eyes, tail and legs. Even when fired up they should stay white.
In recent years, breeders have attempted to create a moonglow but their efforts are still ongoing.
So far, the most promising hatchlings are those bred from yellow, patternless and axanthic traits. The result is patternless white offspring.
Occasionally, some crested geckos are sold as moonglows. Unfortunately, these claims always turn out to be either lizards that change colors when fired up, or pictures that were edited to look completely white.
Crested gecko fans around the world are still waiting for the first real moonglow to hatch.
The creamsicle crested gecko is a beautiful combination of pale yellows, creams and whites.
A true creamsicle must have an orange or yellow base color with white and cream markings on the sides and back. The presence of any other colors, such as lavender, black, or gray, disqualifies them from being recognized as a creamsicle.
The highest quality creamsicles have creamy orange base colors and pure white markings.
Orange and tangerine morphs are often used as a starting point for developing the creamsicle.
In general, the patterns of orange bloodlines of creamsicles stay white, whereas those bred from tangerines become yellower as they age.
The phantom crested gecko, also called the phantom pinstripe, changes the pattern and texture of the dorsal scales on a crested gecko. This trait adds two rows of dark, raised scales where the traditional pinstripe markings are.
Phantoms have a dark base color and muted patterns with faint white patches on the base of the tail and close to the belly.
The phantom should have faded, ghostly markings.
They do not have the usual flame and cream markings of regular pinstripes.
Phantom pinstripes are recessive and two copies of the gene must be present for the trait to appear. This morph is still under development and it is a challenging one to breed.
Mocha crested geckos are typically dusty tan with light cream markings. They can take on dark, chocolatey hues and golden toffee colors as well.
These morphs fall somewhere between blonde and orange.
Some are naturally deep brown and are called ‘chocolate,’ though all mochas will darken when fired up.
The mocha trait is a color trait and does not affect the pattern.
Popular variations include mocha phantom, mocha flame and mocha confetti.
Mocha crested geckos were first bred by Allen Repashy in 2004. His bloodline is still one of the most highly prized varieties of this type.
The snowflake first appeared in a line of crested geckos owned by ACReptiles.
Snowflake morphs hatch with the same colors of a normal, wild-type. The only difference is they have very small white spots. Their pattern expands into uneven white patches that are concentrated on the sides and legs.
Their pattern solidifies by the time they are 2 years old.
The variability of white spots makes the snowflake one of the most exciting and unpredictable on our list.
Snowflake morphs are often bred to harlequins or flames to provide high-contrast, white markings. These snowflake crosses are very expensive, selling for $300 to $1,000.
Red bi-colors are a type of bi-color crested gecko morph.
The red bi-color is light cherry red or salmon pink along the top of their head and back. This color changes to a deep, patternless crimson along their side and belly.
Normal wild-types have some degree of countershading, but this morph was bred to take this color scheme further. The bi-color has two distinct shades of a single color. One shade is on the head and back, and a different shade on the sides.
Careful breeding has led to the creation of red, yellow, olive and even gray bi-colors.
In all of these morphs, the dorsal color is a much lighter shade than the base color. Their two-toned appearance and reduced patterning make this species very beautiful.
Crested Gecko Morph Chart
|Harlequin||Brown, black, or dark orange||Cream, yellow, or white mottling on the sides and legs|
|Flame||Dark red or brown||Yellow, orange, or cream stripes|
|Lilly White||White or cream||Brown speckles on either side of the ribcage|
|Blonde||Dark brown or dark orange||White or cream mottling|
|Bi-color||Olive, red, yellow, or brown||A lighter shade on top and darker shade on the sides and belly|
|Dalmatian||Brown, tan, or cream||Black speckles and spots|
|Red||Rich red||None (or minimal patterning)|
|Halloween||Black or dark brown||Orange stripes and mottling|
|Tiger||Brown, yellow, orange, olive, or cream||Light to dark brown tigerlike stripes|
|Snowflake||Brown, tan, yellow, or olive||White speckles that expand in size|
|Pinstripe||Brown, tan, orange, or olive||Pale, raised stripes from each eye to the tail|
|Brindle||Orange, tan, or light yellow||Highly broken brown, black, and orange stripes|
|Lavender||Pale blue-gray or lavender (when fired up)||Cream and white mottling|
|Phantom||Dark brown or orange||Raised pinstripe scales and faint white markings near the tail|
|Patternless||Brown, tan, orange, yellow, or red||None|
|Mocha||Coffee-colored to chocolate||Cream markings (flame, harlequin, or pinstripe)|
|Creamsicle||Pale orange||White and cream markings|
|Axanthic||Black (full) or grayish brown (het)||White mottling (full) or tan mottling (het)|
Crested gecko morphs come with many different patterns, colors and scale types.
These three traits all interact to produce many different types of appearances.
For first-time keepers, the harlequin, flame, tiger, and dalmatian are popular. These four give plenty of options for bright colors and bold patterns that pop. They are also easy to care for and common to find.
Prices for morphs range from around $100 for a harlequin to over $1,000 for more exceptionally patterned lizards.
Which on our list is your favorite? Leave us a comment below.