Did you know that there are different types of crested geckos? They were actually thought to be extinct until 1994 when they were rediscovered.
Now they have become the most popular gecko pet in America, outdistancing the leopard gecko. Through captive and selective breeding there are more and more types of crested geckos emerging all the time.
Crested geckos are a species upon themselves, there are many different “morphs” or colors and patterns that you can purchase. The term morph is derived from ‘polymorph’, meaning an animal can be bred with nearly limitless skin variations.
While these morphs can take a long time to become popular or officially recognized, new variations are being added constantly. Right now there are about 25 types of crested gecko morphs, but that could change in no time.
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Crested Gecko Information
- Experience Level: Beginner
- Family: Diplodactylidae
- Scientific Name: Correlophus ciliatus or Rhacodactylus ciliatus
- Other Names: Eyelash gecko
- Adult Size: 6 to 10 inches
- Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
- Average Price Range: $50 to $1000+
- Where to buy: Tiki’s geckos, Josh’s Frogs, pet stores, or other quality captive breeders
In 1866, crested geckos were discovered on a small island called New Caledonia, near Australia, when it was colonized by French explorers. The “new” geckos then seemed to disappear and were thought extinct until they were noticed again in 1994.
Since then, crested geckos have been in the pet trade and have gained massive popularity among reptile enthusiasts. With their laid-back disposition, ease of care, and long lifespan, crested geckos make great pets, even for beginners.
Two things owners love about their cresties are the myriad of colors they can display, and the ease of breeding. Because of this, there are many different morphs on the market today and that number is only increasing.
A Gecko Can Fire Up or Fire Down
One thing to note if you are not familiar with geckos at all is their ability to change colors.
While these color changes are not nearly as dramatic as most chameleons, they can get “fired up” or “fire down.” This means their colorations can become bright and more vivid, or darken and become more muted depending on their mood.
This is a temporary change, so do be alarmed if you suddenly see a completely different-colored gecko in your tank. Cresties can get “fired up” as a means of communication, to become camouflaged in their environment, because it is upset, or in a “bad mood.”
Typically a crested gecko will get fired up when they become more active during the late evening or twilight hours. It just means they are up and moving around, kind of like booting up a computer that was put to sleep.
They will also tend to fire down and mute their colors during the daytime as a means of camouflage. This helps them hide from predators when they are resting.
Some geckos will always be fired up or down. This doesn’t necessarily mean anything and could just be their personality. Then again, firing up could mean the gecko is in pain or distressed so, keep an eye on your pet as they change color.
Soon you’ll get to know their patterns and will be able to tell if he or she is upset, in pain, not feeling good, or simply firing up because it’s excited and happy.
Now that we have taken care of that, let’s get into the different crested gecko morphs.
Different Crested Gecko Morphs
Solid Crested Gecko Morph
These morphs are the most basic, but that does not mean they are the least expensive. Depending on the color they can cost up to $500.
A solid morph crestie is as the name suggests, one solid color without any patterns. They can come in colors such as buckskin, brown, olive, cream, red, orange, chocolate, near-black, yellow, or shades of these colors.
As of now, there are no solid black crested geckos, nor are there blue, green, or purple colorations as they don’t possess any blue pigmentation.
Wild Type or Normal
Wild morphs are also called normals as this is what you would typically see in wild-born crested geckos. They typically don’t have any special patterns or significant markings.
Wild morphs have drab colorations such as buckskin or brown. In the wild, these colors help with camouflage so they can blend in with the trees they call home.
Bicolor crested geckos are described as having little to no discernable pattern on their bodies. They tend to have a darker color along their sides, often red, olive, orange, or buckskin, with a lighter color sitting along the top head and back. This is also called the dorsal area.
The tricolor version, as the name suggests is a crested gecko that represents three colors on its body. Unlike the bicolor, this morph will have some type of patterns such as spots, stripes, or large splotches of color. Tricolor cresties often have red or yellow in their patterns.
A harlequin crested gecko can be confused with other morphs such as the flame morph, or a tiger morph as they are similar, but only have slight variations. For a crestie to be considered a harlequin it needs to have a distinct and varied pattern along the legs, belly, side, and tail.
The base color of harlequin morphs must be red or near-black and have secondary and tertiary colors such as orange, yellow, or cream. These geckos are very vibrant with their alternating colors and patterns that cover nearly their entire body.
This morph is a harlequin pattern but of course, the patterning is more pronounced and covers nearly the entire body. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a harlequin morph and an extreme, but the extreme harlequin morph is considered a separate variation.
Extreme harlequin morphs are said to have a large amount of cream color, and bold patterning that covers over 60% of the gecko’s body.
To further add to the confusion, there is also a tricolor harlequin morph. This is basically a combination of the two morphs. It’s a crested gecko with the bold patterning of a harlequin morph with three different colors present.
It’s obvious how this morph gained the name, when a gecko has red, orange, or yellow coloring running down its back, the pattern looks like flames dancing up and down the crestie. While warm colors are generally considered flames, this morph can have any color as long as the pattern is along the back, and the rest of the gecko is a solid color.
Flame, or fire morph crested geckos as they can sometimes be called, are more sought after and more expensive if they have a lot of lighter colored cream along the “flames.” Right now, geckos with variations of cream patterns or colors are becoming quite popular.
Expect to pay more for geckos with cream coloration, especially the lighter creams.
Green Flame Morph
This isn’t a true green morph as crested geckos don’t appear to have any blue pigmentation. The green coloration is more of an olive color, which for crested geckos looks like a mixture of brown and yellow.
A green flame morph is one of the newer morphs out there and is like a flame morph but it has a base of olive coloration instead of the warmer reds, oranges, and yellows.
Since this variation is so new, it may be difficult to find on the market, and factoring in the supply and demand equation, these will be fairly pricey.
Tiger Stripe Morph
Again, this morph is self-explanatory. These morphs look similar to flame geckos except the stripes run down the dorsal area and the sides. Some tiger morphs have stripes on their tails and limbs.
This morph is very popular because of the stunning coloration covering the gecko. These morphs are typically seen in colors such as orange, yellow, and reddish-brown, with darker-colored brown, or orange stripes.
There are some “Extreme tiger” morphs found among tigers, as these stripes are quite bold, or accented with a different color. For example, the stripes could be brown with some cream accent stripes, or the striping could cover most of the gecko’s body.
So far red striped tiger morphs don’t truly exist. Babies can be born red or have red stripes, but by the time they pass the juvenile stage the color darkens to more of a brown color.
Puberty must hit these geckos pretty hard to make them change color like that.
Brindle morph crested geckos are much like tigers except the stripes are less distinct. Instead of the gecko’s stripes running all the way across the back and down to the sides, in a brindle, the stripes would appear broken up.
Much like a brindle dog such as a boxer or french bulldog. They have stripes but they appear more sporadic compared to a tiger’s stripes.
This is my favorite morph just because of the name! Halloween is my favorite holiday, but we are talking about crested gecko morphs. The Halloween morph represents the season’s fall colors of dark brown, mostly black, and orange.
The Halloween morph is actually a variation of the harlequin morph. Typically these cresties have a base of dark color, brown or near black, and have bright orange, cream, or dark yellow contrasts.
Pinstripe geckos can have patterns or colorations synonymous with harlequin, flame, or tiger morphs, but the pinstripe morphs have dual stripes running under the dorsal area of the gecko. Pinstripe morphs can also be solid colored or have another patterning.
Most times the pinstripes are cream-colored and can be slightly broken up, but if the stripes are broken up too much they would be considered a pin-dash morph.
Phantom Pinstripe Morph
The phantom pinstripe crested gecko is much like a regular pinstripe except the base color of the gecko is typically lighter with a bright white pair of stripes running down the side. Often the light color and light pinstripe do not create a striking contrast, but that does not mean this morph isn’t desirable.
Quad Stripe Morph
As you would imagine with the wording of this morph, instead of two stripes running down the sides of the gecko, the quad stripe has four total stripes running the length of its body.
Two stripes run along the dorsal back, while two more stripes travel along the lateral sides of the gecko. The lateral area is the side section, just above the limbs of the gecko, and it goes from the head to the tail.
This gecko morph is similar to dalmatian dogs as the name suggests.
While dark spots can appear on any gecko morph, to be considered dalmatian, the body of the gecko should be lighter colored. A very distinct dalmatian morph is typically a cream or white, light yellow, or grey body with a smattering of dark spots.
The spots can be brown, nearly black, red, or olive. The spots can also be small to large and range from very few to over 100.
Highly speckled dalmatian morphs or ones that have large spots can be considered “Super Dalmatian” morphs.
The white-spotted morph is like a reverse dalmatian.
These morphs began showing up when breeders started seeing white spots on the geckos. These are sometimes called “portholes” as they are small sections where the skin didn’t take any pigmentation.
As breeders continued to breed pairs with these “portholes” the white-spotted morph gradually became more popular. Now, larger spots are often seen.
White-spotted geckos can come in nearly any color morph. The non-pigmented areas tend to show up on the legs, chest, and belly, but as more breeding happens the spots can be found all over.
Lilly White Morph
This morph almost looks like the gecko was splattered with bleach. (We definitely don’t condone that kind of behavior, it’s just a comparison.) The Lilly white crested gecko has a large section of splotchy white or cream coloration across its body.
It can have other patterns, colors, or shapes along the lateral lines, tail, back, or other areas, but the majority of the gecko is very light-colored. As the gecko ages, the light coloration tends to get even lighter.
Lilly white gecko morphs with dark contrasting patterns are quite striking.
This morph is the most controversial and many reputable crested gecko owners say there is no such thing as a moonglow morph.
A true moonglow crested gecko is pure white whether it’s fired up or down. In fact, when fired up, the moonglow morph should become even brighter white.
They are supposed to not have any patterning or colors at all. The problem is many breeders still claim to sell moonglow morphs. They may use pictures that have been “doctored,” or they sell light, solid-colored geckos that are fired up and lighter.
Since many reputable breeders don’t see the moonglow as a true morph it really doesn’t belong on this list, I have only added it because some people are trying to profit off of false advertising. Moonglow morphs are one of the rarest—if they are real at all—so they are being sold for thousands of dollars.
If you are looking for a true moonglow, my suggestion would be to actually see the gecko in person before spending a ton of money based on pictures alone.
Crested geckos with the blonde morph trait may look like harlequin or dark flame morphs with one minor distinction.
The top of the head, the dorsal area, and down to the tail will have a light, cream, or white base color. The “blonde” area can be solid or patterned, but most times it has a pattern.
A creamsicle crested gecko morph looks a lot like the delicious ice cream treat. The head and dorsal area of the gecko are cream-colored, white, light yellow, or blonde, but the sides are orange or light red.
The gecko can be patterned on the dorsal and sides or be solid colored, but the main thing for it to be an actual creamsicle morph is to have alternating cream and orangish coloration.
This morph can look like a melting creamsicle.
Basically, the top of the crested gecko has a light coloration that appears to have dripped down the sides of the lizard. Some crestie enthusiasts will only classify a drippy morph if the top color is a variation of cream.
The other patterns or colorations don’t matter as much for this morph as long as the top is mostly cream-colored and it looks like it has drooped over the sides of the gecko. Other morphs may appear to be a drippy morph such as the extreme harlequin, except these morphs look like the color is rising from the bottom.
Axanthic in herpetologist’s terms means a reptile that is without yellow or red pigments. This ends up creating shades of grey.
Axanthic morph cresties are typically grey, dark grey, or almost black. They can have stripes, spots, or dashes of white, but the most color is absent in this morph.
The dark coloring along with contrasting whites, often in small patches makes these geckos prized morphs.
White Wall Morph
Not to be confused with pinstripe morphs, the white wall crested gecko has a thicker white or cream-colored strip along the lower sides of the gecko.
The stripe tends to run from the front legs to the back, and up from the belly. It resembles the white-walled tires from the olden days.
To be qualified as a white wall morph, the gecko can be any base color or pattern from axanthic to white spotted and everything in between, but it must have a thick white or cream line near the belly.
Again, this color isn’t a true lavender as crested geckos so far don’t come in blue or green. The lavender coloration is more like a slate grey that may resemble lavender in certain lights.
The main thing that makes a true lavender morph is when the gecko fires up, the lavender color doesn’t change much. The little it does change can make it appear a slight purple color.
Lavender morphs can have different colors or patterns, but they need to have some of the slate grey colorations.
What is the cheapest crested gecko morph?
A: The cheapest morph is going to be the wild type, which really isn’t a morph but the “natural” coloration of a crested gecko.
These can be found for around $40 to $50. Other than that it depends on the rarity, the age of the gecko, and even the gender. Most common morphs will cost around $100 to $200.
What is the rarest crested gecko?
A: As of 08/2023 the rarest gecko morph is the moonglow as there are so few true, solid white, patternless geckos. Although as more breeders come up with other morphs, this may change.
I’ve seen blue crested geckos for sale, are they for real?
A: Crested geckos don’t have the ability to make blue pigments. Unless the blue color is created in a lab, if you are seeing blue crested geckos, it’s most likely because the picture has been altered.
Some axanthic crested geckos may appear blue under certain lighting, and some pictures are mislabeled as blue crested geckos when they are in fact a different species. As of this writing, blue crested geckos are a myth.
Wrapping These Gecko Morphs Up
Through captive and selective breeding, crested gecko morphs are quickly changing.
Some types are becoming more popular and abundant, which can lower the price a little, while others are extremely rare and difficult to breed. Meaning they are going to cost a lot more.
While looks can be important, the crestie’s temperament and personality are what matters. These reptiles are easy-going, cute, long-lived companions that make great pets no matter what they look like.