When you first purchased your crested gecko, you probably weren’t expecting their appearance to change much.
However, many novice gecko owners have been surprised to see their lizards change colors as they age and even develop unique patterning like black, red, and brown spots.
For some, it’s pretty alarming!
This is why we researched more about this to ease your fears about this odd coloration.
Black spots are a normal patterning present on many different crested gecko morphs, particularly “Dalmatian” morphs. A “morph” is a variation of a reptile’s color or pattern, usually resulting from selective breeding. Additionally, in some cases, very tiny black spots are indicative of mites.
If you’re worried about your gecko’s new appearance, don’t panic!
Keep reading to learn more about these strange black spots.
We’ll cover why they’re suddenly appearing and if they are just your gecko’s natural color coming out or potentially indicative of a reptile mite infestation.
What Are The Black Spots On Your Crested Gecko?
In most cases, the black spots on your gecko are merely a part of their natural coloration and patterning.
It is normal for your crested gecko’s color and pattern to change slightly as they age, and the color-changing process is usually very gradual.
When crested geckos were first domesticated in the mid-to-late 1990s, there weren’t many unique types or “morphs” of geckos.
However, as exotic reptile hobbyists became more popular pets, new traits were discovered and passed on through selective breeding.
One of these traits is known as “dalmatian spots,” with the geckos exhibiting this trait commonly being referred to as “dalmatians.”
The spots vary in size and shape and often resemble “inkblots” on the gecko’s skin.
Nowadays, there are dozens of unique crested gecko morphs, all with their unique colors and patterns in varying shades of brown, black, red, yellow, orange, and even pure white.
“Dalmatian” geckos are incredibly diverse, and various morphs have been carefully bred to exhibit these handsome spots, such as pinstripe or harlequin dalmatians.
In addition, there are morphs known as “super dalmatians,” which are known to have black or brown spots covering the majority of their bodies.
These geckos are in relatively high demand amongst reptile enthusiasts!
Consider yourself lucky if you’ve ended up with a dalmatian gecko or a super dalmatian gecko by chance, as they are often one of the more expensive crestie morphs.
If you’re interested in learning more about morphs, check out our guide (with pictures) to crested gecko morphs.
How To Tell If You Have A “Dalmatian” Gecko
The best way to determine your crested gecko’s precise morph is to simply ask the breeder or shop you purchased them from.
Keep in mind most pet shops don’t keep detailed records of their reptiles’ genetics and lineages.
Because pet shops aren’t as knowledgeable or as dedicated to raising healthy reptiles as professional breeders in general, it’s best to only buy your reptiles from reputable breeders.
If you have bought your gecko from a pet shop or have adopted them as a rescue, though, it still won’t hurt to ask the person you got them from if they have any information about the gecko’s morph or parentage.
In most cases, crested geckos with black, brown, or red spots have been carefully and selectively bred to exhibit them.
As we mentioned earlier, there are also “super dalmatian” morphs whose bodies are covered with large clusters of spots of varying sizes and shapes.
Chances are if your gecko’s body has slowly developed these spots over time, they have the dalmatian trait.
It is normal for many crested geckos’ patterns and colors to shift and change over time.
If your gecko is still very young, in some cases, you’ll be able to see very pale white spots on their body show up where the darker spots will come in later.
Eventually, the definitive dalmatian pattern will grow as they age.
If you aren’t able to confirm your gecko’s morph with whoever you got your gecko from, it will help to compare close-up photos of your gecko to photos of other dalmatian morphs available on the internet from reptile breeders.
This way, you’ll get a better idea of what these morphs generally are supposed to look like and determine if yours is, in fact, a dalmatian!
How Many “Dalmatian” Morphs Exist?
Since the dalmatian trait is independent, it can present alongside many other traits and on various morphs.
It is possible, for example, for a pinstripe, flame, or even tiger crested gecko morph to have dalmatian spots!
There are dozens of unique crested gecko morphs which can also display dalmatian spots.
These morphs have a wide array of colors, ranging from brown, tan, orange, red, yellow, white, and black.
Their patterning varies significantly, from lateral stripes to pinstriping to splotches of color in various sizes and shapes.
How Much Do Dalmatian Crested Geckos Cost?
Since so many different morphs can display dalmatian spots, the exact price of a gecko with said spots varies significantly.
The price of any crested gecko will depend on the breeder you purchase them from, the precise expression of their colors and patterns, and even the age and sex of the lizard.
The cost of a dalmatian crested gecko ranges from around $130 to $500 or more.
Some geckos with particularly unique or rare colors and patterns will even reach upwards of $1,000!
We have a really great post on the costs of crested geckos.
We go into different morph costs and the supply cost breakdowns in that post.
Do Crested Geckos Change Colors?
It is usual for your crested gecko’s color and pattern to change pretty significantly over time.
This is why it helps to know as many details as possible about the gecko’s parents and genetics from their previous owner or breeder.
Another interesting trait all crested geckos have is changing color depending on their mood and surroundings.
This sudden color change is often known as being “fired up.”
Geckos usually “fire up” when they are alert, or their bodies respond to changes in their environment, such as lighting, humidity, or temperature shifts.
Learn more about why crested geckos fire up in our article here.
It is believed this trait is used in the wild for camouflage to hide from predators or communicate with other geckos.
A “fired up” crested gecko will often have a more vibrant or even darker color or pattern than its usual, normal color.
Many reptile owners will deliberately “fire up” their geckos for a short period by placing them in a dark environment for a few minutes or until the gecko’s color shifts to its “fired up” appearance.
This helps the owner determine the gecko’s “true,” definitive color and is great if you plan on taking photos of your crestie.
How To Tell If Black Spots Are Mites
In some cases, black spots on a crested gecko are a clear sign of a reptile mite infestation.
From a distance, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between black spots, which are a part of a gecko’s natural coloration, and actual reptile mites.
Thankfully, though, upon closer examination, you will be able to discern if those spots on your gecko are mites or not.
Examine your gecko closely, with a flashlight and magnifying glass if possible.
If the black spots are tiny, moving, and have a distinctly spider-like appearance, they are almost definitely reptile mites, also known as Ophionyssus natricis.
Another way to tell if your gecko has mites is to determine how long the “spots” have been present.
While natural color spots on your gecko’s skin will appear and grow relatively slowly over time, reptile mites will appear quickly, in some cases even overnight.
These mites commonly affect snakes, though they aren’t picky and will infect almost any type of reptile, from lizards to turtles and more.
They are commonly spread by handling an infected animal or coming in contact with a batch of infected bedding.
Reptile mites are extremely quick to spread and reproduce and will take over an entire enclosure if not eradicated quickly, so it’s essential to act fast once you’ve identified them.
Check out our article on crested gecko mite removal if you suspect this is what the black spots are.
Can Humans Get Reptile Mites?
If you’ve determined the presence of reptile mites on your beloved crested gecko, you’re likely worried about them spreading to yourself or other pets.
Thankfully, reptile mites aren’t interested in humans and most other furry and feathered animals.
Still, they will spread to other reptiles in your home, even if they are kept in separate enclosures.
Reptile mites will often even “hitch a ride” on your body or clothing to get closer to your other reptiles, waiting until you handle your other lizards or snakes and then hopping onto and infecting them.
Proper and consistent hygiene is essential when handling reptiles to prevent this kind of cross-contamination and the spread of other harmful parasites and diseases.
How To Get Rid Of Reptile Mites
If you’ve determined the tiny spots on your gecko are reptile mites and not their natural coloring, your next move will be to eradicate the mites as promptly as possible.
If mites are present on your gecko’s skin, they have likely taken up residence in their enclosure, too.
Thankfully, though they spread very easily, reptile mites are also fairly simple to get rid of.
You’ll ideally need to temporarily quarantine your gecko in a separate enclosure while you clean out their main enclosure and fill it with warm water and a teaspoon or two of dish soap.
This will drown the existing mites and kill them.
Next, for good measure, empty the warm water and scrub the enclosure with hot water and a tiny amount of bleach (only around two teaspoons per quart of water).
Scrub any hides, rocks, decorations, etc., with the solution as well.
Meanwhile, be sure to soak your gecko in warm water and use a cotton swab soaked in mineral oil to remove any mites present on their skin.
Examine them closely and use a mite spray such as Natural Chemistry Reptile Mite Spray to eliminate the remaining mites.
If you see a black spot, wipe it gently with the cotton swab to check if it is a mite or merely a natural color spot on the gecko’s skin.