So you want to get a leopard gecko, but you need to know where to start? Which morph should you get? Are you looking to breed?
The most common leopard gecko morphs include wild, high yellow, albino, mack snow, and bold stripe leopard geckos. However, not all morphs are suitable as pets.
Read on to learn more about each type of morph so you can make the right decision.
What is a leopard gecko morph?
A leopard gecko morph displays a variation in color, pattern, or any other physical trait.
While some morphs are a result of random mutations, many are made through purposeful selective breeding.
Before you get to breeding your leopard geckos, you need to understand some basic genetics.
For one, each leopard gecko has two copies of each gene within its DNA.
A parent supplies each copy. Beyond that, mutated genes (aka alleles) are usually associated with morphs that can then be passed onto offspring.
To better understand this process and morphs in general, you need to understand the terms below:
- Dominant traits – these are traits that have physical manifestations even when your leopard gecko has only one gene associated with them. So when one parent has a dominant gene, its offspring will have physical manifestations of this gene.
- Recessive gene – this is a gene that has to be passed down by both parents for an offspring to have its physical manifestation.
- Codominant/incomplete dominant traits – these are two different traits that physically manifest simultaneously. They are caused by two different dominant genes, one from each parent.
- Phenotype – this word describes the observable characteristics of your leopard gecko.
- Genotype – this word describes the genetic makeup of your leopard gecko.
- Heterozygous leopard geckos – these have one copy of a normal trait and one of a recessive one.
- Homozygous leopard geckos – have two copies of the same trait. Each parent is responsible for one copy.
- Out-crossing – this is the process of breeding reptiles with different traits. It’s usually done to reduce the chances of a genetic defect, introduce a new trait, or create a very different physical outcome.
- Line breeding is the process of breeding reptiles with a particular set of characteristics. It’s usually done to produce offspring that have the same characteristics.
Common leopard gecko morphs
This is the normal/original leopard gecko morph. It represents how leopard geckos usually look in the wild.
They are not a product of any inbreeding or crossbreeding. These geckos have yellow bodies and black/dark brown markings.
Ultimately, this characteristic earned these reptiles the name leopard geckos in the first place.
This morph is the most readily available. You can easily find it at local pet stores cheaply.
This leopard gecko morph is a normal/wild type morph variation. It is one of the first leopard gecko morphs developed through captive breeding.
As its name suggests, the high yellow morph has a higher concentration of yellow pigment than the normal morph. Beyond that, it also has fewer dark spots.
However, it is just as readily available as the normal leopard gecko morph and is affordable.
These were first bred by Ron Tremper and were the first albino leopard gecko morph ever.
When they’re young, Tremper leopard geckos can be pink. However, they change as they grow older. Eventually, they usually end up yellow, orange, or pink with brown markings.
It’s worth noting that they tend to have more brown markings than other albino leopard gecko morphs.
Also, they usually have striking silver eyes. Keep in mind though – the Tremper albino morph has sub-types.
The most popular one right now is the Red-eye Albino Patternless Tremper Orange (RAPTOR). As its name suggests, this subtype has red eyes and an orange body.
Another subtype of the Tremper albino is the Albino Patternless Tremper Orange (APTOR). It’s similar to the RAPTOR but doesn’t have red eyes.
Rainwater/Las Vegas Albino
Created by Tim Rainwater in 1998, this is yet another albino leopard gecko morph.
Several things set it apart from other albino leopard gecko morphs though.
For one, it has a lighter color and is a bit smaller.
Secondly, it has darker eyes than other albino morphs. Usually, this type of leopard gecko has a yellow body and pink bands.
Like the Tremper morph, the Jungle morph was discovered by Ron Tremper – this was in 1991.
It’s called jungle because of the pattern on its back. This pattern usually consists of broken bands that can look swirly.
They can even look psychedelic. However, it’s difficult to produce jungle leopard geckos – you can’t be 100% sure that the responsible gene will be passed on to the offspring.
Remember, though, that the jungle trait can occur concurrently with other traits like albinism.
As such, it’s possible to find variations such as a Tremper albino jungle leopard gecko.
As its name suggests, the lavender leopard gecko has a lavender or violet body. JMGReptile first developed the lavender morph in 2003 by breeding normal and striped leopard geckos with some lavender coloring.
These geckos may have just one color or pattern, including the lavender color. However, these geckos can start losing their lavender color as they age. This makes it difficult to breed the lavender morph.
This leopard gecko morph has stripes that run down the length of its body. It usually costs $200 to $300 and is quite popular.
This leopard gecko’s body is usually red or dark orange and has two red stripes.
These stripes run across the length of the gecko’s back, each one side of the spine. Red-stripe leopard geckos aren’t born with their stripes. They start showing up when the gecko is 6 months old. Before this age, these geckos have brown markings where the stripes will later show up.
What truly separates reverse stripe leopard geckos from other striped gecko morphs is that they have a single stripe across their back instead of two or more.
This stripe is usually at the center of the back and runs from the tail of the gecko to its neck. However, the color of the stripe varies from gecko to gecko.
As such, this trait can exist concurrently with those associated with other morphs.
It is even commonly linked to the gene responsible for black eyes. So it’s not surprising to find a reverse stripe leopard gecko with solid black eyes.
As its name suggests, this leopard gecko morph features lavender stripes that run down its side.
These are usually located on top of a yellow body. Usually, this morph is the result of breeding a lavender morph with a red stripe one.
Raining red stripe
This morph is the result of crossbreeding rainwater albino leopard geckos with bold stripe/red stripe ones.
As such, they commonly have pale bodies with orange stripes across their backs. To get one of these geckos, you’ll have to pay upwards of $600.
Hypomelanistic /super hypo
Hypomelanistic leopard geckos have less melanin than others. This makes them have fewer dark spots on their bodies (exclusive of their tail and head) – less than 10 usually.
These geckos tend to be orange or yellow. When a hypomelanistic leopard gecko has no markings on its body, it is referred to as a super hypo.
These geckos usually look hypomelanistic when they are born but lose the markings on their bodies when they become adults.
However, most still maintain the markings on their heads. Some, like the baldy morph, don’t keep those either.
To get a baldy leopard gecko, you’ll need to spend at least $150. If you want one with a redder tone, you may need to spend over $750.
A Hybino is the result of crossbreeding a super hypo leopard gecko and any albino morph.
These leopard geckos usually have a yellow or orange color. Beyond that, they usually have albino-like eyes. A common subtype of the hybino morph is the sunglow leopard gecko.
These geckos are made from crossbreeding a super hypo with a Tremper albino. As such, they usually have orange/bright yellow bodies and pale reddish-silver eyes. Also, they have spotted/banded tails.
The blizzard morph has no pattern – it has a single solid color all over its body. Usually, this color is yellow, gray, or white – some even have a purple undertone. Blizzards with yellow bodies are called banana blizzards.
However, some blizzards have darker colors. Because of it, they are commonly referred to as midnight blizzards. There’s one thing that all blizzards have in common though – their solid black eyes.
Blazing blizzards are the result of crossbreeding blizzards with albino morphs.
Some subtypes under this morph include Tremper blazing blizzards and Rainwater blazing blizzards. Breeders are even trying to develop blazing banana blizzards.
Whatever type of blazing blizzard you encounter, though, its eyes will look like the albino it is derived from. On the other hand, their bodies should look like those of the blizzards they are derived from.
Diablo Blanco translates to the white devil in English. It gets its name from its physical features – it has red eyes and a solid white body. It is a result of crossbreeding a RAPTOR with a blizzard.
Murphy patternless leopard geckos are similar to blizzards, especially when they are adults. However, while blizzards are born patternless, these leopard geckos are born with blotches that fade over time. B
y the time they become adults, they have just one color, usually purple or gray. Some of them are yellow or green though.
An orange-patterned tail characterizes this morph.
For a leopard gecko to be considered a carrot tail, at least 15 percent of its tail should be orange. Interestingly, the body of this morph is usually in a different color.
As its name suggests, this morph has an orange head. This color usually starts at the tip of the leopard gecko’s nose and ends past the eyes.
Keep in mind that the rest of the gecko’s body is usually in another color. Also, the more intense the orange color of the gecko’s head, the more expensive it is.
Discovered in the 90s, the Halloween mask morphs its name from its dark and dramatic markings on its head and body. These marks are usually on top of a white or yellow background.
They can change as the leopard gecko ages. Some Halloween mask geckos can even change their color depending on the environment that they’re in and how they’re feeling.
This leopard gecko morph has broken patterns that are often interrupted by bands of other colors.
The disrupted patterns are usually found on the gecko’s body or tail but never on both. Many times, aberrant traits appear on mack snow and normal morphs.
What is the most popular morph?
This leopard gecko morph is undoubtedly the most popular one right now.
Its popularity is mainly due to its general good health, shape, availability, and appearance. Interestingly, it gets its name from the fact that it was first bred by Amy and John Mack of Reptiles by Mack.
When they are born, Mack Snow leopard geckos are usually white. But over time they develop black spots or bands that darken with time.
Leopard Gecko Morphs to Avoid
The enigma leopard gecko morph usually has an orange top side and white belly and underside. Also, it has some blotches and a pale white tail.
If there’s one thing you should know about enigma leopard geckos, though, they result from a lot of crossbreeding. As such, they have been known to be at risk for a deadly condition known as enigma syndrome.
Although not all enigma leopard geckos carry the gene responsible for this condition, a good number of them do.
And while some of these won’t exhibit any symptoms, some will suffer greatly from debilitating ones like death rolling. It’s therefore not surprising that many experts advise steering clear of this leopard gecko morph altogether.
First seen in 2012 in Florida, lemon frost leopard geckos are unique and pretty. They have a striking bright yellow color and black spots on their heads and a few other body parts.
However, their tails are usually black with some white spots/blotches. They have gray or white eyes.
But before you run off and get one of these beautiful geckos, you need to know that they are usually at risk for cancer.
All of them tend to get cancer at some point. Their unique yellow pigmentation usually causes this. As such, these leopard geckos die young, even though they are expensive.
White and yellow
As their name suggests, white and yellow leopard geckos have white and yellow parts. Their underbellies are usually white while their top areas are yellow.
However, these geckos’ beauty doesn’t make them healthy. They tend to have balance problems – wobbling is particularly common with them. This is a result of crossbreeding.
As such, it is always best to avoid white and yellow leopard geckos. And if you already have a few, don’t breed them.
This homozygous mutation is created by breeding two mack snow geckos. Super snow leopard geckos are usually white and have black dense spots. Beyond that, they have solid color eyes.
Unfortunately, some of their breeders tend to carry out mass breeding. This can lead to a genetic pool that has traits from problematic morphs like the enigma. Ultimately, this can lead to health issues like slow growth.
Mack snow blizzard
These leopard geckos are usually white and pale. While this makes them nice to look at, it doesn’t mean that keeping them is easy. They are particularly known for their aggressive nature.
Some owners have even complained that these leopard geckos remain untamed even when the same person raises them from birth to adulthood.
This heterozygous morph first occurred randomly in 1999 and comes in a variety of colors. As its name suggests, the giant morph is bigger than the average leopard gecko. It can grow up to 2 inches longer than a normal leopard gecko and weigh over 3.5 ounces.
You can breed two giant morphs together to get a super giant morph – this leopard gecko can grow up to 12 inches long.
Both giant and supergiant leopard geckos are cool and calm. The only problem with these morphs is that breeders tend to overfeed them to make them even bigger.
They usually do this so that they can get a better price for these geckos. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to obesity and other related health issues.
Rarest Leopard Gecko Morphs
This leopard gecko morph was first developed in the Netherlands by a couple of breeders called Roy Sluiter and Ferry Zuurmond. They came up with it after they had conducted research for 15 years.
It’s therefore not surprising that the black night leopard gecko is one of the rarest morphs out there. Despite this, the black night morph is still well-liked. People are willing to pay up to $4000 to get one of these geckos.
This is mainly because of the black night morph’s appearance. It is usually jet black with a white belly – some even have spots. It looks like this because it has excessive melanin in its skin. Another thing that makes this morph loved is its calm and happy demeanor.
The black pearl leopard gecko is similar to the black night one- it is also rare and black. Beyond that, it’s expensive – it usually costs north of $3000.
The main thing that makes it different from the black night is the fact that it has white markings on it that look like pearls. Another thing that sets it apart is that its color turns velvety during breeding.
As its name suggests, the marble eye morph has three-dimensional eyes that resemble marbles.
It was discovered by an expert breeder called Matt Baronack. He found these leopard geckos in New York at the White Plains show. He first noticed that their eyes were redder than usual before noticing that they were three-dimensional.
Once he figured out how many of his geckos were marble eyes, he called the company that supplied them to him and got their parents too.
He then began experimenting on and breeding them. Ultimately, there is a lot we still don’t understand about marble eye leopard geckos that only further research can reveal.
These geckos are currently sold at around $100 each.
This leopard gecko morph gets its name from its body color and the person who developed it.
So not only is it tangerine, but it was also developed by a man named David Nieves in the 90s.
As luck would have it, he was one of the first people to develop tangerine leopard gecko morphs.
If there’s one thing that separates the Nieves tangerine morph though, it’s its skin colors and patterns.
It has yellow and orange shades with big pink spots on its back and pinkish-white feet. Keep in mind, though – it has fewer spots on its body than other tangerine leopard gecko morphs.
A&M Geckos first developed Dreamsicle morph on 15th January 2008. It results from breeding mack snow, enigma, and RAPTOR morphs.
Since this breeding process is complex, these leopard geckos are rare.
When dreamsicle leopard geckos are born, they usually look translucent.
But with time, their bodies become white and develop yellow and orange markings.
On the other hand, their tails usually end up purely white, and their eyes with a distinctive red color. Even though these leopard geckos are rare, they are still affordable. You can get them for $100 to $200.
First discovered in 2004, this leopard gecko morph is known for having solid black eyes resulting from a recessive gene.
Because of their eyes, these leopard geckos are commonly bred with other morphs to create unique eye colors. Another thing that sets eclipse leopard geckos apart is that they have light-colored backs with dark brown/yellow spots. Usually, you can buy these leopard geckos for $75 to $150.
This is the newest member of the albino leopard gecko family. It was discovered by Mark Bell and has an excellent lavender color with brown markings.
Beyond that, it has light pink eyes. Usually, bell albino leopard geckos cost $200 to $500.
When it comes down to it, new leopard gecko morphs are being discovered and developed every day. As such, it’s impossible to understand each morph out there deeply.
So to make things easier for yourself, just understand which morphs you should avoid and always strive to get one you can afford.