Crested geckos have a wide variety of distinct colors and patterns known as “morphs.”
A morph, a shortened word for “polymorph,” means there are many distinct visual representations of one animal species.
In polymorphism, there are two or more possible distinct color or pattern traits on a single gene.
Since cresteds are polymorphic, it is difficult to predict the morph outcome in the same way as other reptiles.
Selective breeding is required to achieve the desired traits.
Unlike other gecko species, it is very unlikely to see a purple, green, or blue color morph in crested geckos because they lack the pigments to produce these colors.
The closest morph in this color range is known as lavender, but it is a very subtle hue and appears as more of a gray color.
Crested geckos are also able to change color depending on their mood or the environment.
This is known throughout the reptile community as being “fired up.”
This change is very easy to spot because the crestie’s colors will become more vivid or even change completely.
When a crestie is fired up, it does not necessarily mean the reptile is uncomfortable or upset.
Cresteds get fired up for a variety of reasons, including communication with other geckos, as a means of camouflage, and environmental changes.
Keep reading for more information on a variety of color morphs in crested geckos, as well as which morphs are the rarest and which ones are the most expensive.
The patternless crested gecko morph denotes a solid color over the entire body in any of the following colors:
There are no true solid black or white patternless cresties.
Light yellow-cream or unfired red-crested geckos may be named “moonglows,” but they are not completely white.
Very dark, almost black cresties are usually not patternless, or they have a white pattern on the head, tail, or fringe.
The tiger morph will usually have a light base color with darker stripes resembling a tiger’s pattern.
While this morph is seen with similar color traits as patternless cresties, it is most often available in a brown or beige color.
Red tiger morphs are rarely seen in adult crested geckos because when they get fired up, the red tone overrides the darker stripes of the tiger patterning.
Yellow tiger cresties are very popular due to the contrast in their coloring.
A highly patterned tiger crested gecko is also known as a brindle, super brindle, or super tiger.
The super brindle is less common than the regular brindle or super tiger.
The crested gecko will have a darker base color in the flame morph with some cream color on its back and sides, resembling small flames.
The base comes in various colors, but it will always be darker than the flame patterning.
The pattern color on the crestie’s back may vary from a solid to a more staggered pattern.
Chevron flame crested geckos have a V-shaped pattern along their back.
A perfect chevron pattern is rare and is sought after among many reptile owners.
When the colors of a flame morph are described, the body and leg color will always come before the flame color.
Some examples of this include red and yellow, black and cream, and yellow and cream, just to name a few.
Harlequin And Extreme Harlequin
Harlequin morphs are very similar to flames, but there is more pattern, particularly along the sides and legs.
Harlequin crested geckos come in red and cream, tri-colors, and various shades of vibrant yellow and orange.
Extreme harlequins have an even more prominent patterning than regular harlequins, with the light pattern color extending up the sides and sometimes connecting with the pattern along the crestie’s back.
The extreme harlequin patterning is highly sought after due to the vivid coloring of the crested gecko.
The dalmatian spot morph is very popular among crested gecko owners.
As the name implies, this morph gives the crested gecko dalmatian spots very similar to the breed of dog.
These spots range in color from black ink spots to white, red, grey, and olive.
The spots on a dalmatian crested gecko vary in size and number.
Dalmatian cresties with very few small spots are very common and inexpensive.
The variation of this morph featuring numerous large black spots is rarer and expensive, and they are highly sought after by collectors.
Some of these expensive morphs have so many large spots they almost completely obscure the base color underneath.
Dalmatian morphs with a high number of spots are known as “super dalmatians.”
You can learn more about crested geckos with black spots in our other post.
White spots, also known as portholes, usually appear along the sides of the crested gecko, and they have been known to appear since the captive breeding of the reptile began.
Any small white spot on the toes, chest, stomach, or nose may also result from unfinished pigmentation during incubation.
More recently, this morph has been bred to have large white spots.
These larger spots are generally on the dorsal area, and they give the appearance of white spots “dripping” down the reptile’s body.
The creamsicle morph typically presents itself with an orange base color with white or cream-colored stripe patterns on the back and head.
In addition to the original orange and white coloring, many breeders now include crested geckos with a bright yellow base color with white or cream markings as creamsicle morphs.
Creamsicle morph patterning is generally a variation of the harlequin, extreme harlequin, and flame morphs.
Although more rare, solid back, dalmatian, and pinstripe patterns are also seen in the creamsicle morph.
The Halloween morph features the colors black and orange with the same pattern as harlequin crested geckos.
When fired down, the crestie may appear to be gray and orange or lavender and orange.
However, when Halloween crested geckos are fired up, the base color darkens to black, with the pattern being an orange color.
The orange pattern color ranges from very bright neon, peach, or a darker orange.
In Halloween crested geckos, the pattern will never be white, cream, or yellow.
Blonde crested gecko morphs generally have dark flame patterning, and they may also have pinstripes.
The blonde morph pattern may also resemble a harlequin gecko with a dark base color and very light patterning.
A blonde harlequin crested gecko morph may also have a solid white or cream dorsal pattern and some markings on its head.
This light pattern appears as a stripe of color starting at the tip of the crestie’s nose and extending along its dorsal scales to the base of the tail.
The bi-color morph has a dark base color with a lighter secondary color running down the crested gecko’s back.
Bi-color morphs come in the same color varieties as the patternless morph, but the lighter color on the back usually has less contrast to the base color.
The light color may also appear on the top of the head, and there may even be very light spotted or striped patterning.
This minimal patterning is not prominent enough to classify the bi-color morph as a dalmatian or tiger morph.
However, there is enough patterning present to not categorize the crestie as patternless.
The tri-color morph has the pattern of harlequins with three different colors.
The base color of a tri-color morph ranges from red to black with a pattern which usually includes cream plus another color.
The most common color combinations for tri-color crested geckos are black with orange and cream patterning, similar to the Halloween morph, and red with yellow and cream patterning.
There is a debate among some breeders as to how a tri-color morph is classified.
Many breeders will only categorize a crested gecko as a tri-color when each color on its body represents one-third of the overall color and pattern markings.
Mocha and Cream
Mocha and cream morphs have a base color ranging from brown to tan with a cream color pattern.
This morph is in between the creamsicle and blonde morphs in terms of color and patterning.
The patterns on mocha crested geckos include harlequin, tiger, and various forms of pinstripe and flame morphs.
A mocha and cream crestie will always display a brown color when fired up.
The best mocha and cream morphs are a very dark and vibrant brown.
The classic pinstripe morph is considered a structural trait due to the two rows of raised scales going down their back.
Each scale is usually a cream color, but it may also be white.
Some pinstripe cresteds have rows of continuous cream or white scales along the entire length of their body, from their crest to the base of their tail.
Other pinstripe morphs may only have a few small raised scales in a row on their back.
When a pinstripe morph has small separated pinstriping along its back, this is known as “dash pinning.”
The rest of a pinstripe gecko’s body will usually have flame or harlequin patterns.
Tiger stripes or solid colors may occur, but they are very rare in the pinstripe morph.
The phantom pinstripe morph is not as common as the regular pinstripe morph.
Instead of cream or white color along the top of the raised scales, the phantom pinstripe crested gecko has darker bands of color underneath and around each scale.
The classic phantom pinning usually has a lighter base color, and the pinstriping is a darker color.
There is not as much contrast between the colors like there is in some other morphs.
The dorsal stripe between the pinstripe scales is usually a similar color to the rest of the body, whereas a classic pinstripe morph will have a more brightly colored dorsal stripe than the rest of its body.
The quadstripe morph is very similar to a regular pinstripe morph, except there are also stripes on the side of the crested gecko.
These lateral stripes may also have raised, cream-colored scales, and this is not usually seen with any other morphs.
The stripes on the sides of the crestie may either be solid lines or broken dashes, with some resembling porthole spots.
The lavender crested gecko morph is fairly new, only gaining popularity in recent years.
Lavender cresties do not tend to fire up in the same way as other crested geckos do.
As a result, the lavender gecko is a pale gray or another muted color, but when they fire up, there may be a slight purplish tint visible.
You can learn more about why crested geckos fire up and what it means in our other post.
Some crested gecko breeders believe the lavender morph is not a true color morph but rather a crested gecko who has never been seen firing up to a darker color.
However, this morph continues to gain popularity among both crestie breeders and owners.
The drippy morph has a cream pattern which appears to be dripping down the reptile’s body from the top of its back.
Some crested gecko breeders will only classify a reptile as having the drippy morph if there is some cream coloration.
Crestie owners may confuse a drippy morph with an extreme harlequin morph, but there is a simple way to tell the difference.
In extreme harlequin morphs, the pattern on the gecko’s body will look like it is going from the bottom of the lizard to the top.
The pattern always goes from the top down with the drippy morph, starting at the dorsal area or back of the crested gecko.
In extreme harlequins, there may also be drippy patterning present in addition to the regular pattern.
The solid back morph is exactly what it sounds like.
The color pattern on the dorsal area will be completely solid.
This morph may appear in conjunction with the flame, harlequin, and extreme harlequin crested gecko morphs.
More rarely, the solid back morph may also have traits of a drippy or pinstripe morph.
A partially solid back crestie will have a slightly broken pattern.
The white wall morph is fairly new and consists of a solid white or cream-colored stripe running along the lower sides of the crestie.
There is a distinct line separating the white or cream stripe from the rest of the pattern or base color.
This color pattern is reminiscent of whitewall tires, which is how the morph got its name.
A whitewall crested gecko will usually have two colors: the base color and the white block of color.
Whitewall crested geckos may also be tri-colored.
Other patterns may appear on the whitewall morph, but the lower half of its stomach should always have the white block of color with a distinct lateral line.
Rare Crested Gecko Morphs
Even though many crested gecko morphs already exist, breeders are always experimenting and coming up with new morphs.
Because of the nature of crested gecko genetics, breeding for a specific trait is somewhat difficult.
Once a desirable trait in a crestie is achieved, breeders then breed the particular lizard with another crestie displaying the same traits.
Doing this increases the likelihood of having baby geckos with the same appearance as the parents, but it is not guaranteed.
This is because there is no “standard” crested geckos, also known as “hets” for heterozygous.
Cresties do not breed true with dominant and recessive genes. Instead, crested gecko genes have at least two, sometimes more, traits on a single gene.
Each of these traits has a chance of being bred into a crestie based on the number of traits the reptile carries.
Most desired traits are known as “line bred” because a fair amount of inbreeding was done to achieve them consistently.
Due to this complicated breeding process, there are some very rare crested gecko morphs.
In this section, we will discuss a few of them.
We start with the very controversial solid white crested gecko morph known as “moonglow.”
This morph is considered controversial because many reptile breeders and owners say a true white crested gecko is impossible, while others say it is.
As such, moonglow is generally not accepted as a morph as no breeder has definitively produced a crestie which stays white when it is both fired up and fired down.
Still, many breeders advertise moonglows for sale now and then when they may just have a cream-on-cream morph or a pale yellow type of morph.
Most photographs of moonglows are not reliable because they are usually retouched or taken in poor lighting, so you are unable to see the true colors of the crestie.
Cream On Cream
Unlike the fabled moonglow, the color combination of the cream-on-cream morph has been proven to exist.
The “cream on cream” morph produces a crested gecko with a solid cream base color and cream-colored pattern markings.
These colors are usually seen on a crested gecko with flame patterning.
This morph is one of the rarest to exist, and it is highly sought after among crestie owners.
Morph colors are determined by what a crested gecko looks like when it is completely fired up.
Adult red tiger crested geckos are rare because the red often overrides the dark tiger stripe pattern colors when the lizard is fired up.
While the red tiger morph is most commonly seen in juvenile crested geckos, the tiger pattern may change and become less pronounced as they age into adulthood.
Because of this, adult red tiger cresties are rarely seen.
Red Harlequin Pinstripe
This morph is extremely rare because the color morph required for breeding is rare and was only recently developed.
A few red harlequin crested gecko versions are currently in existence, ranging from vivid red with no dark coloration to a bi-color of red and cream.
The red harlequin pinstripe morph is very new and is still being perfected.
Through selective breeding, the red harlequin pinstripe cresties available now have at least 90% pinstriping, but breeders are working very hard for 100%.
This morph is highly sought after among reptile owners.
A dark fire morph has a dark brown to the almost black base with a cream-colored flame pattern.
The most common colors found in flame crested geckos are red and olive, so finding one with an extremely dark base color is rare.
The base color should darken when the crestie is fired up to be considered a dark fire morph.
Dark fire crested geckos are desirable for reptile owners due to the high contrast between the base color and the flame pattern.
This rare morph is also controversial in the crested gecko community because many breeders will advertise a green flame crestie for sale, but the picture is not of the lizard in its fired-up state.
Unless the flame crested gecko is green when fired up, it simply cannot be considered this particular morph.
True green is difficult to accomplish in cresties as they lack the pigments to make true blues and greens.
Green flame crested geckos are usually a darker olive green, but there are a few examples of a more pale green.
It is very difficult to predict whether or not a flame crested gecko will fire up green, and given the difficulty, this species of gecko has to produce green pigments; it is a very rare morph.
Most Expensive Crested Gecko Morphs
The average price for a crested gecko ranges from $50-$100, but rare morphs are much more expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $500-$5,000.
The prices of cresties may also fluctuate according to the area.
In places where many breeders compete against one another, the market may be saturated with certain morphs, which keeps the selling price down.
The more expensive morphs are going to belong to the rarer varieties of a crested gecko.
Some examples of rare and expensive morphs include:
- Full pinstripe
- Super dalmatian
- Creamsicles with a solid back, dalmation, or pinstripe patterning
- Cream on Cream
- Extreme harlequins with vivid coloring
Any new morphs being bred will always be more expensive when they are first introduced due to rarity, so keep this in mind when you hear of a new morph in the crested gecko community.
Whichever morph you decide to purchase, you should always buy from a reputable breeder. It is also wise to see the crestie in person in both its fired up and fired down states.
Some breeders may be deceptive when including pictures of their crested geckos, often taking pictures in low light or manipulating the photo after it is taken.