Crested Gecko Lab

How to describe your crested gecko...

This is a guide to help everyone understand some of the terminology that is used to classify and describe the traits and physical characteristics of crested geckos. It is meant as a reference that reflects the common nomenclature that is used amongst the hobby community as a whole as far as what is known about morphs and what we have learned from various respected experts in the subject matter.  Pictures shown are examples to help show pattern, color, structure, or all three. 

Intensity of color and change in color is often described as the animal being..Fired-up or un-fired

What does fired -up mean? Fired up is when a geckos boldest colors are displayed. There are many things that cause a gecko to fire-up like stress, misting, or just becoming active (usually at night). A lot of details come out when a crested gecko fires up and sometimes allows additional pattern to be easily seen. 

The color ...

of the gecko is the description to use for the base color of the animal when it is fired up.  Crested geckos are one of the most polychromatic (comes in many colors) species in the animal kingdom.  Black, tan, brown, cream, red, orange, green, yellow, are just some of the colors you will see.   

Color can be hard to determine, especially when online and not in person, and will definitely be the most subjective area of every description. We can view color as an additional descriptor in a morph since it’s the pattern that determines a morph. Not to mention color changes in many ways with age, the shed cycle and environmental conditions. Some “Designer Morphs” include color in their "nicknames" to help highlight any developed traits or color schemes in a specific manner.

The Base color then pattern color of a gecko will be the areas described when including color in morph descriptions. The base color is basically the overall coloration of the gecko beyond the pattern.

Pattern zones:
It would be very helpful to make yourself aware of the various pattern zones that are included with morph descriptions including the following: 

A- The top of the head.
B- The back. (Middorsal/Dorsal)
C- The top half of the sides. (Upper Lateral)
D- The bottom half of the sides. (Lower Lateral)
E- The legs. (Limbs)

Zone Based Morph Guide

Patternless:   A,B,C,D,E  are same color
Tiger:           A,B,C,D have uniform primary color with streaks of secondary color (usually dark streaks)
Dalmatian:    Scattered Spots on all zones.  Independent (can be present on any morph)
White-Fringe: Whitish fringe lining the hind limbs.  Independent.
Fire:             A and B light.  C Dark. D Patterned.
Harlequin:     A and B light.  C,D, and E patterned.

Order of Description:
The order in which a morph is generally described is called the Order of Description. Base color then Pattern color then Morph then TraitsFor example an orange gecko with white stripes would be called an orange and white tiger. A grayish gecko with yellow harlequin markings would be called a Grey and Yellow Harlequin.

Structural Traits are not considered in morph placement since they are “independent” and can be found on various morphs. Any of the following may be present on a crested gecko and not affect their defined morph

-Dalmatian spots -Fringing -Knee caps -Portholes -Pinstripes -White walls -Blushing -Furred -Crowned -Exaggerated crests 

Morph Related Terms.

Morph- A common description for a trait or group of traits. A visually physical difference between organisms of distinct populations in a species.   Specifically the patterning of the crested gecko.  

Trait- A trait is a distinctive physical characteristic of the animal that may be inherited, environmentally determined or somewhere in between. Colors, patterns, dalmatian spots, white fringe, and pinstriping are all traits. Some traits will be found with other various morphs and traits alike. (dalmatian spotting and pinstriping are independent and can be commonly seen on a various morphs and with other structural traits).

Clean- No dalmation spots

Order of Description- The order in which an offical morph is described. Base color x Pattern color x Morph x Traits 
(example: Red and Cream Harlequin Pinstripe)



These geckos have a uniform coloration lacking all but the faintest traces of pattern.  They can come in shades of gray, brown, tan, green, yellow, orange, chocolate, lavender, and red.



This is essentially a patternless gecko with the mid-dorsal zone being uniformly darker or lighter shade than the rest of the body with out significant patterning.  


Tiger crested geckos have a light background color streaked with a high contrast pattern of darker or lighter shade than the rest of the gecko.  The streaks can also be a secondary color, like one pictured below is a Yellow and Green Tiger.  Tiger crested geckos that exhibit a lot of tiger pattern is described as being a brindle morph, which is a super (lots of pattern) version of this morph.  


These are crested geckos speckled with small to medium scattered black, red, green, pink, or white spots.  These spots are an independent trait which can appear along side other morphs.  Outstanding dalmatians are characterized by several large or small spots covering the entire body with a bright or light coloration in their base color.  Although dalmatian spots  can be present in most other morphs, a dalmatian crested gecko is usually a patternless gecko covered in dalmatian spots.  The term Super Dalmatian is used to characterize an animal that has several spots and always produces offspring with spots.  Pictured below is a Black and Red Spotted Red Patternless Super Dalmatian ( or simply Red Super Dalmatian) both fired up and unfired.  

Flame and Fire

This is one of the first morphs to be developed through captive breeding and at one point was one of the most popular morphs.  Fires are described as having a secondary coloration that is a rich cream, yellow-white, to bright yellows and oranges defined by the lateral crests where this secondary color and pattern lie between these crests on the geckos dorsal region.  Flames have this secondary color / pattern run all the way up to their head as well.  There is little to no pattern on the sides and legs of a traditional flame / fire crested gecko.  


This is actually a form of the flame / fire morph, but is worth noting individually.  Harlequins have extensive irregular blotching of the legs and lateral dark areas with a light colored pattern that is also found at the dorsal region.  There is an exception, those described as Tri-Colored or Calico will in fact have three colors, sometimes the secondary colors of the dorsal pattern and lateral patterns differ.  

Harlequins are very popular and nice specimens are highly sought after.  Some are described as Extreme Harlequins, which is a term used commercially to describe a gecko with a lot of pattern (usually reaching all the way to the dorsal pattern).  Below are some examples of Harlequins.  


Pinstripes are an independent structural trait.  It is a Fire / Flame or harlequin crested gecko that have crests running along the entire entire length of the body to the base of the tail defined by the lateral crests on the dorsal region of the gecko.  The most desirable are ones with cream colored pinstriping that has no breaks (full pinstripe) in the structure lining the gecko  provides contrast to the base color and / or the dorsal color.  Below is some terminology and varied forms of pinstripes.

Full Pinstripes:   Have no breaks in the crests.  

Partial Pinstripes: Have some breaks in the crests.

Phantom Pinstripes: This actually describes the dorsal pattern being "muted" as it does have pattern, but has the same base color at the dorsal site.  

Fader Pinstripe: The crests go from one color to being  cream colored at some other region of the body.

Reverse Pinstripe: This has nothing to do with the crests.  Crests may or may not be present, but this is when it is described that there is dark linear outline of the dorsal region where the lateral crests are / aren't present.  

Below are examples of the variations  respectively.

Crowned and White Fringe

These two are also structural and independent traits.  Crowned is when the crests of the head are exaggerated and so big that they flop over.  The white fringe occurs on the rear legs of gecko and some times other areas too.   Below is a pic of a crowned crested gecko.