[crested gecko morph guide]
Flame/Fire - These geckos have an area of bright, patterned color that covers their head and runs in a stripe down their back (dorsal stripe). The sides (lateral areas) and the legs of the gecko are a distinct 2nd color ... a "base color" (often darker and/or duller). The base color that covers the sides & legs of the gecko is relatively solid, with little or no patterning or mottling.
Harlequin - A harlequin or morph is a specific type of flame morph. A "harley" gecko looks very much like a typical flame, except there is a significant amount of patterning (blotches of brighter/lighter color) on the base color (sides/lateral regions and on the legs). These irregular blotches & patches of contrasting color are similar in appearance to the pattern found on other harlequin animals ... such as the harlequin Great Dane. An "extreme harlequin" is a gecko with an extreme amount of patterning. In general, more patterning and higher contrast throughout the patterning is desirable and will determine the quality of the harlequin gecko.
Tiger - A relatively solid colored gecko with darker stripes along its back & sides is considered a tiger morph. Quality tigers have bold, distinct stripes that cross the dorsal (back) region and continue down their sides. Like the name says, these geckos should resemble tigers ... which means they should have distinct stripes. That said, there are a lot of "tigers" out there with very little in the way of striping.
Brindle - A tiger morph with an extreme amount of striping & patterning is considered "brindle." Like cats, dogs & horses that exhibit "brindle" coloration, brindle geckos have a streaked & mottled appearance, with patchy striping that is more subtle than the bold stripes of a tiger.
Dalmatian - The dalmatian spot trait is one that can appear on any of the morphs (such as flame or harlequin) but geckos with just a few spots are generally not considered "dalmatians." For a gecko with other morph characteristics to be called a dalmatian (morph), it should have a significant amount of spotting (otherwise it would be a "such-and-such morph with some dalmatian spotting"). However, a patternless gecko with a few spots (even if it doesn't have very many spots) is more apt to be called a "dalmatian" just because it doesn't fall neatly into any other morph category. Dalmatian spots are generally black, but red spots are seen as well. "Super dalmatians" are geckos that have many, many spots ... they look like what most of us think a dalmatian dog should look like ... covered in spots.
Peppered - These geckos are covered in dots, but the dots are lighter and smaller than dalmatian spots ... more like "speckles" or "sprinkles." The specks are usually just a darker shade of the gecko's overall coloration (much lower contrast than the bold black spots of a dalmatian gecko). They are more "speckly" in appearance than "polka-dotted." Peppered geckos are rare, and are sometimes confused with the dalmatian morph since dalmatians with a very small spots are sometimes described as being "peppered with dalmatian spots." Peppered geckos might also display the distinctive traits of other morphs.
Pinstripe - This trait can also appear on just about any morph, though it is almost always seen on flames & harlequins. "Pinstriping" refers to the two rows of enlarged crest/scales that run from the head/neck area of the gecko, down its back to the base of the tail. These stripes are a bright cream/white color, and in the case of a flame or harlequin, they frame the colorful, patterned area of the gecko's back. If the pinstriping does not have any gaps or breaks in it, the gecko is a "full" or "100%" pinstripe. If there are a few small gaps, the gecko might be described as 95% pinstripe or something similar, depending on how much of the stripe is missing. If the gecko just has dashes of striping, it's descried as having "partial pinstriping."
Reverse Pinstripe - Reverse pinstriping refers to dark shading that runs in a stripe directly below the pinstripe scales. So unlike normal pinstripes that have two light stripes running down their back, reverse pinstripes have dark stripes. This trait can appear on just about any morph, as well as geckos with traditional pinstriping.
Lateral Stripe - Sometimes pinstriped geckos also exhibit a "lateral stripe" that runs along their sides. White raised scales often appear on the sides of geckos as a row of dots, a.k.a. "portholes" (see description in "Traits" section below), but in more extreme cases, these scales form a series of dashes or even a complete line or lateral stripe. Complete lateral stripes are most often seen in full or near-full pinstripes and/or geckos that have a lot of cream on them. Often, these geckos are also flame/harlequins ... which results in a very unique striped appearance ... Between each pinstripe & lateral stripe is the flame's base color (often darker), while between the gecko's pinstripes and between the lateral stripe & belly lies the bright, patterned color.
Bicolor - Bicolors are two-tone geckos, where the head & back are a different shade from the sides & legs of the gecko. There is normally very little patterning or contrast on a bicolor gecko (if there were, it would probably be considered a flame/fire morph instead).
Patternless - Geckos that are one relatively uniform color with no patterning are called "patternless." Sometimes "patternless" cresteds have a slightly lighter-colored head region, but as long as the color shift is subtle and does not continue along the back, the gecko is still patternless as opposed to bicolor.
Chevron or "chevron-back" - These geckos are somewhere in between a patternless and a flame. They have a bright, patterned back like a flame, but their head is the same color as their sides & legs (as opposed to a flame which has a bright colored head too). Aside from the area on their back, they don't have much patterning. Quality chevron geckos have nice symmetrical "v" shapes running down their backs (hence the name "chevron"). However, with any morph there are good representatives and not-so-good ones. So, if a gecko has the patterning & coloration described above, BUT the pattern on its back doesn't form nice chevron arrows ... that does not somehow make it a flame/fire. It still probably fits the chevron category best ... it's just not a great example of the morph :)
The following are independent traits that can appear on any of the morphs.
- When a gecko has a thickened line of "fringe" that runs down the very back of its hind legs, it is called white-fringed. The fringe can be anywhere from bright white to yellow-white, and on some geckos can be very thick.
- This trait often appears with the "white fringe" trait, and describes a whitish "cap" on the knees of a gecko's hind legs.
- "Blushers" will fire up with a bright reddish-pink coloration on their cheeks, throat and sometimes the "blushing" extends towards their belly/underside.
- Crested geckos ideally have nice, wide heads and large crests ... and when the head is extra wide and the fleshy flap & crests actually droop down a bit, the gecko is described as being "crowned."
- Most cresteds have a relatively smooth diamond-shaped head with fairly consistent, evenly-spaced crests that stick out all the way around ... but on horned cresteds a small segment of their crests sticks out further (right at the tips of the widest part of their head). Often there are two big crests that stick out in this area, and there may be a gap in the crests around the protruding area, thus making the "horned look" even more apparent.
- Large crests are desirable in cresteds, and some geckos have very large crests indeed! Enlarged crests/scales can run from the gecko's head, down their neck and all the way down their back to the base of the tail. Geckos with large crests that run down much of their body look almost "furry" or "furred." Enlarged crests that appear on the gecko's back are also sometimes called "raised dorsal crests" or simply "dorsal crests." When these raised crests/scales are white or cream in color, the gecko is "pinstriped" (see description in "Morph" section above).
- Black (and/or red) dalmatian spots are actually an independent trait that can appear on any morph, but when there are lots of spots the gecko is called a dalmatian morph (see description in "Morph" section above).
- All cresteds (supposing they still have a tail) have a pad at the end of their tail that works like the pads on their feet that enable them to stick to stuff. Most of the time a crested's tail gradually & slightly tapers towards the tip, but geckos with this trait have an enlarged (wider) pad at the tip of their tail.
- Just like the small circular windows on the sides of ships, "portholes" is a term used to describe the row of raised white scales that sometimes run down the lateral sides of a gecko. There are usually around 3 or 4 of these white spots. They may appear round or slightly streaked ... but when they take on a more dashed appearance, they are not really described as "portholes," but rather a partial "lateral stripe." (see description in "Morph" section above).
:: special morphs
These morphs are described here since they are often mentioned and seem to be "what's hot" in the pet trade at this time ... Please note however, that many people are incorrectly labeling geckos as certain morphs (either knowingly or unknowingly), so before you spend a lot of money on a gecko, make sure you know what you're really getting!
"Creamsicle" - Like the popsicle, a creamsicle crested gecko is an orange flame morph with a bright cream back and bright orange body. Some creamsicles tend to be more red than orange ... whether a person should consider this a true "creamsicle" is open to debate. High-quality creamsicles are quite rare.
"Red Harlequin" - A harlequin gecko with a base color that is a vibrant, saturated red (not brownish) is considered a red harlequin. The dorsal flame & harley patterning color can vary quite a bit (cream to yellow-orange for instance). Sometimes people call a gecko with a dorsal coloration that is reddish a "red harlequin" ... but most often this dorsal & harley pattern color is more of a reddish-orange than true red, and the base color is often not red at all (brownish, greyish, or the like).
"Blonde Harlequin" - A harlequin gecko with a dorsal color & harlequin patterning that is a bright "blonde" (ideally cream/white or very light yellow) is a blonde harlequin. The base color is generally quite dark - chocolate to dark grey or near black.
"Dark Harlequin" - This simply refers to a harlequin with a base color that is very, very dark (the closer to black the better). The dorsal flame & harley patterning color can be pretty much anything.
"Super Dalmatian" - A line must be drawn somewhere to differentiate regular dalmatians from supers ... and different people will draw it different places. But in my opinion, super dalmatians should be "covered" in many, many spots ... much like a dalmatian dog is "covered" in spots.
"Moonglow" - Super pale cresteds that are almost white in color are called moonglows. A true moonglow should be as close to white as possible - creamy bone white, but not pale yellow, greyish, or pinkish.
"Snow Camo" - These are tiger morph geckos that are very pale (white-grey) with dark greyish-black streaks & tiger/brindle patterning.