In the beginning there were only a handful of morphs and eventually more branched out thanks to selective breeding. The color, pattern and structural traits are the elements that classify the type of morph an animal is.
Most of the original wild caught specimens were “patternless” and “tiger/brindle” animals. A few “Fire/Flame” specimens were also collected in later trips to New Caledonia. Essentially, every morph available today is a descendent of these base morphs. The genetics of New Caledonian geckos are still in the early stages of research. As of now, crested geckos can only be categorized by their phenotype.
Aside from the obvious color and pattern traits, crested geckos can also be classified by their structural traits. When a hobbyist refers to a certain animal such as a “Crowned Red Harlequin Dalmatian” they are describing all the morphological elements of the animal. “Crowned” is a structural trait referring to the size of the head and crests of the New Caledonian Eyelash Gecko. “Red” is describing the base color of the animal. “Harlequin” is the Morph it is classified under. Lastly, “Dalmatian” is used to describe a pattern trait the animal displays.
Patternless and Bicolor
Patternless animals can sometimes be very similar to bicolor animals. A patternless gecko will have one solid base color all around. A bicolor will appear to be patternless but will have a darker or lighter shade of the base color in the dorsal area. The usually lighter shade in the dorsal does not have a significant amount of pattern.
*The female pictured can be classified as a orange bicolor.
Crested geckos with a usually light base and vertical (darker) streaks across their body can be classified as tigers. An animal with an exaggeration of the tiger patterning can also be dubbed as a brindle.
The dalmatian trait is used to describe the spots spread around the gecko’s body. These spots are black 90% of the time, although red and white dalmatian spots are also available they are very rare. Animals with a cluster of Dalmatian spots in one place can be referred as “blotched dalmatians”. Animals that are nearly covered with Dalmatian spots are referred to as “super dalmatians”. Ashley J. (Scaredy Cat Geckos) owns some of the best super dalmatians I have seen up to date.
* The juvenile male pictured displays both the tiger and dalmatian morph traits.
Flame and Harlequin
The Harlequin morph is the Flame/Fire morph with a significant amount of mottled pattern on the sides and limbs of the animal. The mottled pattern is a lighter color than the base color. Flame crested geckos display this pattern exclusively through their back with some exceptions displaying small amount of lateral pattern. A gecko with an abundance of lateral and limb harlequin pattern can be identified as an “extreme harlequin”.
- The animal pictured here displays the dorsal and limb pattern on a harlequin crested gecko.
- This is a lateral shot of another harlequin crested gecko.
The pinstripe variation of a flame or harlequin crested gecko is distinguished by two defined rows of white (or yellow) scales running from the neck all the way down to the base of the tail. When the rows of elevated scales are broken then the animal is classified as a partial pinstripe.
Animals that are patternless or display the tiger pattern along with the two thin rows of scales running down the back can be classified as “phantom pinstripes”. Tigers (or extreme harlequins) with the pinstripe scales usually showcase a “reverse pinstripe” trait although normal pinstripes can also display it. The reverse pinstripe is identified by a dark shaded line running on the border of the pinstripe scales in the upper lateral area.
The pinstripe trait has the ability to alter the harlequin morph by creating dashes of white along the laterals of the animal. Through selective breeding these white dashes can become full lateral lines. When a pinstripe crested has well developed lateral lines on both sides, then the gecko can be dubbed a “quad-stripe”. Although there are some hobbyists that disagree, a quad-stripe with a solid dorsal and a drip of pattern running down the center of the dorsal can be described as a “superstripe”.
- This harlequin pinstripe crested gecko shows us her rows of pinstripe scales along with her white fringes in the hind legs.
- This yellow juvenile is an example of a reverse phantom pinstripe.
- A fired up red harlequin (partial) pinstripe correlophus ciliatus.
The cream coloration/trait is usually supplementary to harlequins, flames and pinstripes. It is an independent trait that can be combined with several different color bases. The more cream the animal has, the rarer it becomes.
- This yellow cream female displays white tip crests and white fringing.
Perhaps the most important feature a crested gecko can have is its crests. After all, this is the feature it was named after! Typically, The bigger the crests the more desirable the animal. Crested geckos that can be considered crowned have a head length less than 1.3 times the width of their head. The length of the head crest scales are not taken into consideration when classifying a crowned gecko.
- Crowned female C. ciliatus.
- Male Crested Gecko displaying well defined crests.