"Crested Gecko, Foundation Genetics"... a living entity, in pursuit of knowledge - Part 2-1, The Morphs!
Updated: 10/05/22, v1.1
Table of Contents (click to travel to each section)
- Background on our authors
- History 1998-2001 - Where we came from
- How we derived the morphs
- Correlation vs Causation
- Common Misconceptions
- Current Breeding Practices
- Genetic Lineage
- Advanced Patterns and Morphs
- How we're listing the morphs
- How to develop your own line
- Inbreeding/Intercrossing/Line Breeding/Outcrossing practices
- The Morphs
- Base Color Morphs
- Pattern and Color Morphs
- Phenotype Base Color Variances
- Combo Morphs
- Structural Characteristics
- Old Age
- Thank you!
- Anthony Vasquez & Jessica Vasquez – Lil Monsters Reptiles
- Tom Favazza - Geckological
- Phillippe de Vosjoli
- Allen Repashy
- Anthony Caponetto – AC Reptiles
- Matt Parks – Pangea Reptile
- Donald Hendrickson – Reptile City Korea
- Mark Orfus – Northern Gecko
- Hannah Quellhorst – Greeks Gecko
- Amanda Gavel – Wicked Arboreals
- Cindy McDannell – Gecko Haven
Now Let's get started with the Morphs
Before we cover the categories, we want to cover our most redefined trait. The current description of tiger, or Super tiger, describes dark bands on the animal. These tiger stripes can be thin or bold and stretch across the dorsum and lateral and sometimes go from one lateral over the dorsum to the other lateral. This gene is what we find to be most like aliens in Ball Pythons or the dark spots and patterning in leopard geckos. Several genes can affect tiger and how it modifies pattern. This gene is fixed in the population and cannot be removed. The development of tiger is similar to the BR morph in gargoyle geckos. Thicker tiger bands, and a larger expression of it, is a result of how it forms during development. It accounts for significant variation in siblings.
Brindle, tiger, freckling and reverse pinstripe is tiger, at work with different traits, making unique phenotypes. Since we previously missed tiger being the root cause of this, the hobby correlated these characteristics into traits, to try and describe the morph we see. This is the reason why we say tiger is a unifying term for all the previously mentioned names.
Tiger is affected by pinstripe. Pinstripe and tiger have two separate and opposing directions of pattern development. Pinstripe orients color and pattern horizontally and tiger vertically. These two things clash and fight each other for dominance of the pattern development. Instead of saying an animal is or is not a tiger we describe them as having strong or weak tigering, based on interaction with other traits in the animal. Strong, or highly stacked, tigering, will display long heavier bands. While weak, or less stacked, tigering, will display smooth coloration on animals, sometimes with freckling, and have few breaks in the pattern color. This means we can also refer to it as a ratio between pinstripe and tiger, or a ratio of pattern to tiger. Full coverage animals usually have a weaker tiger influence which causes freckling or small lines within the pattern. The stronger expression of pinstripe, due to selective breeding, results in tiger having a more difficult time breaking up pattern.
Pattern is well described by Turing Patterns which describe a reactant and inhibitor. Pattern color is the reactant and tiger is the inhibitor. There are many YouTube videos that help with this concept. A stronger form of tiger will break apart pattern distribution. This perspective gives insight into how the pattern will develop based on parents and how to increase pattern or increase tiger markings to create the phenotype you desire.
We have a few pointers for how to evaluate tiger and help identify its behavior in your animals for future pairings. Distribution, migration, and disruption are the primary factors for how it affects color pattern. Distribution is when tiger forms different-sized bands at different space values across areas of the animal. Pining causes tiger to be forced along the pin edge and pattern, forming what we call reverse pin. Migration causes pattern to move into different areas. Pattern follows the tiger’s edge and guides pattern into different areas of the animal. It forces flame pattern to migrate into the space between the tiger stripes. Pin affects the tigering, and breaks/shifts the stripes along the mid-lateral line, which is what is commonly referred to as brindle. Some nice flame patterns can also form when tiger pushes into the belly pattern. Disruption is when we see pattern break, shatter, or freckle in animals who are covered in pattern color.
Base Color Morphs
At the onset of our hobby, some wild-type animals were described as buckskin, but there was a range of interpretations. Some were very dark, like what we call black and brown base, and some were a light tan or dirty yellow. These geckos, after reviewing some historical photos, appear to be displaying combinations of traits. The effects of them being naturally combined are beneficial, and/or not harmful for survival in the wild. From these variations, it is fairly easy to see how black base, yellow base, phantom, and hypo forms began to emerge more with selective breeding causing them to separate into distinct phenotypes. The term polymorphic was used to describe these animals and is correct, however, it became interpreted wrong in the hobby. This single interpretation has slowed the advancement of genetic understanding, in our community, more than any other factor to date. Please refer to “Polymorphic” in part 1 of Foundation Genetics.
The base colors can be swapped on nearly every single phenotype in the pattern, and pattern color categories. This behavior is what it would be like if base colors occupy their own locus. Using the phenotypic ratio in breeding results and testing how the traits behave in subsequent generations we have worked out the inheritance of each one. Each pattern morph can slightly affect the base colors. As for patternless animals, the base color of the animal is what we are seeing.
Patternless is not a trait, it is a combo morph, that has little to no pattern showing due to pattern color suppression caused by phantom. Yellow base animals act as a secondary type of base color covering >90% of the animal but can display black or red coloration.
Black Base, this base color appears to be fixed dominant. Black Base is the most prevalent base color in the hobby. It contributes to the overall color of the other base colors. It comes in several variations from brown-colored to pitch-black. The trait appears to be non-allelic with the other two primary base colors. Black base animals can display both WP and OP or either one individually.
PHENOTYPE: Dominant (Fixed)
ALLELIC WITH: None known
Red on its own locus behaves recessively, meaning you can produce reds from non-red animals. Red Base animals can display both WP and OP or either one individually. It has proven difficult to remove all of the OP, which sometimes has a yellow tone, in red animals. There is evidence showing a correlation with black base, as both pattern colors are possible on red and black animals, and because we can produce red tiger stripes on some animals without the black base. The red base can come in a wide range of colors and hues due to how it interacts with other traits. Punnett Table calculations show there are at least 12 shades of red, which is what we find in the hobby today. This ranges from dark blood reds to dirty reds, to fire truck reds, to bright neon, to pink, and light pink or cotton candy pink. All variations in red can be attributed to multiple trait interactions caused by phantom, hypo, OP, WP, or several of these combined.
ALLELIC WITH: none known
Yellow base is dominant which means you need a yellow to make a yellow. This base color is naturally bright, has little dark pigment, and has clear indications that it may be a naturally occurring hypo gene distinct from the hypo triat. It is not unlike the first pastel Ball pythons found in Africa. However, in old age, many yellows can fade to an almost lavender or rust-colored tone. Much confusion has been caused by this trait due to how they fade in old age. This misleads some breeders into believing that lavender or reds can produce yellows, when in fact the animal is an old yellow that has faded. Since yellow animals naturally have reduced dark pigment we will occasionally refer to them as “naturally hypo”. Hypo however can still be added to these animals to create even lighter and more complex yellow phenotypes. Yellow based animals display white/cream patterns or WP. On a rare occasion, OP may appear, but it fades to a white/cream in time. This OP is sometimes attributed to the animal having a red base, blended in, as these animals appear to display an orange color.
Yellow base is an important base color for many morphs so it must be noted how to properly identify them as they can look similar to high coverage harlequins. harlequin animals will lack coloration or be dark on the cusp of the front legs and around the chin. Yellow base animals will be yellow or white in those areas. Yellow base animals with strong tigering can break up the yellow base. This makes yellow base the only base color to act as a secondary base color where black base or red base can show through around the knees, toes, and tiger breaks. It makes yellow base behave like an intermediary but still behaves more similarly to a base in many ways. We will explain these interactions in more detail under combos and advanced morphs.
The final consideration with yellow base animals is the citrus designation. This comes directly from ACR when producing bright rich yellow and yellow-orange animals and eventually crossing them to C2. To quote him, “Some specimens are so clean and devoid of dark pigment that they have a hypo melanistic look to them. I've often referred to it as the "C2 glow"(Caponetto). "Citrus is a much nicer name in my opinion for yellow base" - (AV), but it should be noted that this term is sometimes used when referring to bright yellow animals that have a hypo appearance to them. Remember that it is not always trait accurate to use the word hypo, as there are several hypo forms now to describe a similar effect.
ALLELIC WITH: none known
Pattern and Color Morphs
Pattern colors only come in a couple of forms, white pattern and orange pattern, which we will refer to as WP and OP respectively. These two forms are affected by other genes that change the hue of the two primary traits responsible for the colors (polygenes). This is what causes the variation we see in the hobby. WP varies from cream to paper white. OP ranges from reddish-orange to yellow. Both WP and OP can also be influenced by tangerine creating other color forms such as pink, or bubblegum hues. With regards to the amount of coverage for each, or how strongly the gene is expressed, depends on two things. One is the ratio of Pattern to tiger as explained in advanced morphs. The second is through selective breeding, by choosing to breed animals that express the highest amount of pattern, these are polygenes that produce these changes, and what causes a slight incomplete dominance effect in the offspring. Good examples of how genes aren’t all equal, even if they are the same trait, is how you can breed an extreme harley with an average harley and receive a large spread in the offspring. This is what creates the spectrum we see in hatchlings. The spectrum can be shifted more or less extreme depending on how much pattern the parents each have to contribute. On top of all this, the lowest common denominator you can get for an animal or a normal is the 3 fixed trait descriptions, pattern color, black base, and tiger. All other morphs have been refined and isolated over time. Let’s start with the main trait, tiger.
Tiger/Super Tiger/Brindle/Marble/XXX – (Pattern)
Tiger is another wild-type trait observed early on with some of the originally collected animals. As discussed in the introduction, tiger is a fixed characteristic that contributes to how and where pattern forms on the animals. We primarily use the name to describe animals with tiger bands in the pattern and no pinstriping. The gene forms in different ways on animals from nearly straight bars to broken bands with jagged edges. The term brindle was coined when the pattern appeared jagged or aberrant. This name, as used in the hobby, is not a single gene, and forms differently due to gene interaction and the dominance levels of other pattern traits in the animal. Brindle is a morph made up of a multi-trait interaction. It is not a trait.
The tiger pattern can be selectively bred, for either uniformity or more aberrant patterning. The size and spacing of tigering is likely epigenetic, something inherent in a particular animal or line. So far, we have found that tiger cannot be bred out of the animal. Therefore, this trait is described as a fixed gene.
In our guides, we refer to tiger as vertical patterning that orients pattern from the dorsal to the belly. There are two ways to analyze tigering. Pattern distribution, and pattern disruption. Distribution is when pattern is pushed around into the dorsal or forced into the upper laterals. Simply put, tiger pushes white and orange pattern, and the pattern follows along the tiger stripe. Disruption however is when a strong amount of pattern is broken, shattered, or causes tiger to be freckled. We can look at walls and dorsal to see how it shatters the pattern. You can use this for all morphs, even yellow animals, where tiger banding and faint pattern can still be found to evaluate future pairings. This is where, when trying to produce a particular look, finding the right animal for your foundation is more important than trying to reproduce it from scratch.
The biggest modifier to this trait is its previously mentioned interaction with pinstripe. The 5 phenotype names, above, are actually just different ratios of pattern dominance between tiger and pinstripe. Tiger appears to work similarly to how banded and reticulated patterns form on Gargs. The large range of phenotype expressions can be explained simply by the dominance of tiger in relation to the dominance of other traits in the animal. It presents as freckling, reverse pinning, and separations between pattern on harlequins, tiger, super tiger, and XXX phenotypes.
Colored base animals will show freckling or thin tiger striped lines. For thick bands, the pattern on colored bases can oftentimes resemble harlequin blob markings. It is important to note the color under and around the chin and the cusp of the arm to determine if you have a yellow base with tigering or a highly orange patterned black based harlequin.
When pinstripe is present these traits fight each other. One will pattern horizontally and the other vertically from the dorsum down through the laterals. This almost always forms reverse pinning where the two traits clash the strongest. Tiger will have a difficult time crossing the dorsal depending on how they fight for dominance over this area. As for pattering it breaks up and becomes more jagged. The quad stripe lateral will often twist as it tries to align vertically through the pattern.
Pattern tends to get pushed by tiger and moves around depending on how it forms. When we have large solid areas of pattern tiger tends to break it up.
This is a form of tigering. A product of how tiger pattern develops in the absence of pinstripe. The name was founded by Matthew Parks, of Pangea Reptile. It allows the tiger striping to saddle from the laterals over the dorsum, even in more patterned morphs and with broken pinstriping, so it has a greater dominance than tigering alone. XXX was originally thought of as a Halloween, but is now better identified as a form of tiger.
WP/OP - (Pattern color)
Pattern coloration comes in two distinct forms white pattern (WP) and orange pattern (OP). All other color variations are due to expression, selective breeding, and the effects of other traits that contribute to that coloration. White pattern presents between cream to paper white, with cream color being the most common by far. While orange pattern displays between deep reddish-orange to yellow, light orange being the most common. When combined both colors display at the same time, while other traits like whiteout and or whitewall (the more extreme form) causes the additional white pattern to present.
WP cream is the most common and is the absence of melanin, it is not the addition of white color, as pattern develops and grows the animal is losing melanin in those areas. This is because reptiles don't produce a white color, it is just the absence of all melanin. The yellowing of the white pattern making it cream comes from the xanthophores producing yellow pigment. Hypo causes a further reduction in yellowing and is mostly responsible for producing the pure paper white that is so highly sought after.
OP is a yellowish-orange, to tangerine, to redish-orange and all produced in the topmost color layer of the chromatophore. This color has had a long development in the hobby to keep it from fading out as the animal ages. This has been the most common issue with OP and there are a few lines that maintain vibrant orange color through adulthood.
Genetically these two forms do not breed allelically but rather non-allelic and can be pushed in separate directions, either exclusively, or together with varying expressions of each. Additional traits contribute to the hue of each and affect development and how long that color lasts through adulthood and into old age. Within a generation or two offspring can be bred more orange or more white to completely orange or completely white with subsequent generations, starting from either of the two colors and using the paired animal with one or the other color. We're presenting these grouped for ease of explanation but keep in mind they behave like separate traits.
CATEGORY: Pattern/Color morph
Allelic with: None known. There are notable interactions with both WP and OP.
The color gets restricted and pushed down below the pins, causing extreme patterned animals to occasionally produce a reverse pin characteristic.
WP see's a big hit as phantom pushes melanin into the areas where white pattern would normally be. OP causes a browning coloration to be present and also where we find chocolate coloration in some dark phantoms. WP phantoms produce white coloration around the belly, and when cream produces more bi-tonal colored animals. OP produces more patternless looking animals.
Strong tiger influence causes the pattern on the dorsum to break and form patterns. Chevron-backs were an interesting interaction we noticed early on, where tigering created "V" shapes down the dorsum plane. Weaker tigering causes fewer breaks in the dorsum and wider patterning.
Flame - (Pattern color)
This is one of the first morphs recognized in crested geckos that was different from the initial wild collected animals. As stated in The Rhacodactylus, “we did not find a single representative of the ‘fire’ morph in the wild… The first wild-collected ‘fire’ pattered crested geckos appeared on the U.S. market in late 1995.”. “Most of the bright colored ‘fire’ morphs…are descendants of wild-collected ‘patternless’ and ‘tiger’ adults.” The morph is defined by pattern color on the dorsum and subtle patterning color on the limbs and laterals. Tiger breaks this pattern. Selective and Line breeding practices have evolved this morph to develop significantly more pattern on the limbs and laterals, which we now describe as harlequin, extreme harlequin, full coverage, and XXX. The pattern color ranges from white to orange with intermediate colors. We will define these as WP or OP, white pattern or orange pattern, respectively. Although flame is not a single trait it is because it will always be combined with the base color trait that influences the overall phenotype. If a “NORMAL” phenotype was ever decided on, it would be a flame on a black base animal.
CATEGORY: Pattern/Color morph
When pinning is present you can find partial pinning, dashed pinning, or solid pinning down the otter edge of the dorsum characterized by raised scales that are often highlighted with pattern coloration. The old chevrons with dashed pinning were noticed when pinstripe was worked into this morph.
Phantom suppresses flame coloration significantly. Animals with strong OP pattern may display muddy or brownish weaker color will display patternless and animals with WP usually displays grey or silver tones. When flame has phantom we often find near patternless animals as it is a less dominant expression of the morph. This is where the patternless or bicolor phenotypes are formed as flame is a less dominant expression on pattern color than more developed or stacked animals.
Strong tiger influence causes the pattern on the dorsum to break and form patterns. Chevron-backs were an interesting interaction we noticed early on, where tigering created V shapes down the dorsal plane. Weaker tigering causes fewer breaks in the dorsum and wider patterning.
A flame pattern with V shapes down the dorsum. This is a very old descriptor that is not often used anymore.
Harlequin - (Pattern color)
This morph developed out of the flame morph and was observed and described in specimens as early as 2000. It was not until subsequent refined generations that harlequin became more apparent as being part of the flame trait. Like flame, harlequin is classified with WP and OP, white pattern and orange pattern, respectively. We’ve seen a broader range of colors being refined with harley over the years. From deep reddish oranges to paper white cream. The pattern difference between flame and harley is that harley develops significantly more pattern in the limbs and belly. The most extreme examples reaching up and over the top of the dorsum. The pattern is mostly comprised of several overlapping oval-shaped markings or blob shapes around the limbs and laterals. Although flame is credited for the origin of harlequin, today it behaves like its own morph. flame and harley are the same main traits at work with other genes contributing to the expression. They work the same to produce the same phenotypes with varying amounts of patterning. The extreme examples are referred to as extreme harlequin, full coverage, and even XXX, making them a sort of complex.
CATEGORY: Pattern Color morph
Pinstriping with harlequin organizes the trait horizontally. It also makes it more difficult for pattern to connect with the dorsum by confining it to the lower or upper laterals. pinstripe pushes harlequin pattern down and orients it into structured lines. We can also sometimes see a reverse pinstripe line due to pin.
Phantom mutes the coloration significantly on the dorsum. Since harley is a much stronger expression than flame the pattern comes through much more. With OP the suppressed color pattern darkens to dark brown. Over time the effect of phantom becomes stronge to where the color of the pattern is no longer vibrant. WP harlequins however still show WP through on the Belly, as this has been shown to be consistent in pairings with bi-color phantoms and high white pattern harleys with snowflake that can be found on all three base colors.
Extreme/Full Coverage Harlequin-descriptor
Extreme versions of the morph cause pattern to travel up to the dorsum and cover a large portion of the base. It looks like they are wearing a hoodie of WP or OP. These can also sometimes be referred to as full coverage animals. Proper morph identification can be difficult in these animals as they can be confused with other combo morphs. The other morph that this is often mistaken for is the yellow base tigers that form similar blobs like the harlequin due to the strength of tiger. To identify the difference, we need to look below the peak of the crests (cheeks), down the neck, and the cusp of the front legs. In harlequin, the pattern is lacking in these areas and base color can be seen either red or black.
The tiger trait is purely a pattern modifier. When combined with harlequin it breaks up pattern and causes thin to broad lines through the main lateral pattern, in the belly and through the dorsum. With extreme and high coverage animals you can find freckling or thin jagged lines depending on how tiger develops in the animals. The type of pattern is passed on, which is why having the right pattern is important when trying to produce a particular look.
XXX comes from a line developed by Matt Parks at Pangea Reptile. Originally this was an animal that displayed an extreme harley pattern where the pattern extended over the dorsum and was a Halloween, or black based orange pattern animal. XXX is an animal with extreme pattern but is more truly a form of tiger that more easily breaks through pinning because of its dominance. This lets the pattern develop vertically where pin would normally restrict pattern from developing across the edge of the dorsum. Breeding practices show that XXX is responsible for many animals with coverage going up and over the animal. These animals also have some physical characteristics around the neck and base of the tail that give them a unique appearance.
Phantom - (Color)
This is a wild-type trait observed in wild-collected animals. Phantom behaves recessively but some breeders have noticed that there may be markers in some Hets. This trait suppresses pattern color from the flame or harlequin gene. Although a faint pattern can sometimes still be observed as it doesn’t completely mute all coloration. The trait also seems to increase melanin. Selective breeding of this gene revealed that you can control the hue of melanin, from a pitch black to a milk chocolate color. The trait is very powerful and creates the majority of “oddball” and unexplained animals in the hobby due to being recessive. There are several examples of animals producing phantoms but not showing an apparent indication that the animal is Het for phantom. When we look at how phantom affects the chromatophore we can see that it has less of an effect on pure white coloration coming from white pin or white laterals and it loses its dominance towards the base of the tail.
This trait effectively doubles the amount of phenotypes in the hobby and creates the most intricate reactions with different genes. Since phantom has been avoided in the hobby and labeled a fluke or oddball by inexperienced breeders, many breeders refused to knowingly work with them. While many focus on High white, or full coverage, phantom is the other side of the coin as it suppressed the color they were primarily trying to refine by adding melanin back into white areas. With yellow and tangerine animals becoming more prevalent in the hobby we are now beginning to see how unique and varied phantom animals are. With phantom often being the key to producing some of the most colorful variations.
The greatest issue, in defining phantom, is the difference of opinion based on descriptors. These descriptors have broken a single trait into multiple named phenotypes. These phenotypes have been misleading the hobby into thinking they are separate traits. The highly polymorphic nature of crested geckos lends itself to alternative phenotypes or forms. Phantom is very prominent in many collections because it is not understood and/or identified properly. Finding the connections takes some due diligence and good breeding practices.
CATEGORY: Pattern Color
Allelic with: **Gene-x animals that are not het phantom but follow a phenotype. This is still a WIP
Phantom suppresses this trait, especially on the dorsum, where you can find the darkest areas near the neck and head as it adds to the headstamp. It dominates this trait the most and suppresses it the most. Adding phantom to Low expression harleys or flames is how you get patternless animals. This creates the red patternless, red bitonal, black patternless, charcoal, OG black, and hyper tangerine phenotypes. In many cases, you can see faint pattern still come through. All patternless animals will still show two color tones between the dorsum and laterals. OP causes browning and WP causes a grey coloration.
Phantom will suppress the white highlighting of the pinstripe trait but will begin to lose its dominance from the middle of the dorsal towards the base of the tail where the white pin coloration will come back through. In some instances, we have seen this reach all the way up to the head crests. These animals are exceptionally advanced and therefore rare.
NOTE: Originally phantom was also associated with phantom pinstripe. This was a combo and somehow was mistakenly described by hobbyists as phantom being carried by and/or linked to pin. Traits however cannot be carried by other traits, they can be linked in that other genes are necessary for the trait to display visually on the animal. The proper term for this interaction is epistasis. We know that the description “carried with phantom” is not true because pinstripe developed separately from phantom. We bred pinstripe in very high numbers so the correlation was made with many phenotypes, but it is not the cause for how this gene behaves. We now know that what we called phantom pinstripe was a harlequin quad stripe on a dark base, this is a combo morph. Pinstripe on its own has nothing to do with the phantom trait unless you want to add pinstripe to a phantom. This is where knowing the history of the morphs, where they came from, and how they have developed over the years is important when trying to properly identify traits.
Yellow base phantoms have a unique color and create some of the most interesting advanced morphs. You can get a range of silver-colored animals, to yellow, to mustard, and when tangerine is added, the phenotype range becomes quite broad. Many yellow phantoms fade to a silver color as adults, this also highlights the naturally hypo coloration of the yellow base trait in that they have less melanin, but also see suppression of color from phantom. Darkening around the neck is a good indication when the phantom trait is involved.
With yellow based hypo. These phantoms often show lighter coloration and reveal more hints of the pattern. Phantom hypo reds, which we often called patternless and bi-colors, is where we see neon-colored reds. With yellow we get animals with little dark coloring since yellow is already naturally hypo. Some of these animals can be almost pure white. With the black base and hypo, we produce what we commonly call lavender phantoms.
With highly stacked, or hyper tangerine, we get even brighter and longer-lasting tangerine color. With citrus and tangerine phantom we see the phantom strawberry tigers emerging and the red staying much longer. In some cases, this produces a peach color.
with-Softscale, Super Softscale, and SAF
We see an increase of color intensity of whatever phenotype you produce with phantom. This is due to scale shape and size affecting reflection and refraction through the scales. This effect, by the difference in the scales, causes a variety of hue changes and produces more vibrant colors that are a signature of these genes.
Patternless is not a gene on its own. The lack of pattern, in this phenotype, is caused by phantom’s suppression of pattern color acting on the flame and harlequin morphs. Patternless animals can be made in any base color. The yellow base is what produces the most interesting interactions making silver animals to mustard color, and when tangerine is present you can get animals that look like a Cheeto puff! Although many use the patternless description for some animals, they all have a slight hue difference between the dorsum and sides of the body. In the patternless case phantom masks OP an WP which is another dominant trait.
This description is often used to describe a patternless animal with a hue color difference in the dorsum and laterals. This phenotype is also a phantom.
This is a complicated morph descriptor but historically is used to describe wild-type phantoms that had a tan buckskin color, animals with this descriptor were usually unicolor. Although some use it to describe a color.
The original brindle described in the Rhacodactylus Book was a yellow base, phantom, tiger with aberrant patterning. The animal also had red base coloring. This broken tiger patterning was used to describe brindle. This is still just tigering that has formed in a different way. Today, in 2022, the hobby has defined brindle to be a small patch of broken flame-like pattern in the upper lateral. Genetically there is no such thing as a brindle trait. It is just how the tiger has formed on the animal and broken the pattern due to trait interaction with pinstripe.
Using the right animals will produce more consistent tiger pattern formation and was why the hobby has correlated the pattern formation as being caused by a gene. The simplest analogy we can use here is like having a horizontal pattern and a vertical pattern, breeding them together and creating a hatch-like pattern, and then mistakenly correlating the hatch pattern to be a new gene. When in fact the cause is much simpler. This is why in the hobby we find examples of animals with no brindle producing brindle offspring.
Dalmatian – (Pattern)
The dalmatian trait is a wild-type trait, several of the original wild imported animals came covered in spots. The size and shape of spots come in a wide range of sizes and quantities that cover the animal. The trait is dominant with little difference between the Het and Hzg phenotypes. The color ranges of the spots that have been documented are black (common), red (second most common), and Green to yellow (the least common). Colored spots seem to be correlated to the base color of the animal. Since melanin travels when animals fire up or down the melanin for the dalmatian spots can appear in different layers causing spots to disappear when the animal fires down. The size of dalmatian spots can range from a grain of salt to as large as a pea in some cases. The trait will always display at least a couple of spots. As few as 3 for low expression to over 100. Single spot animals are often just paradox spots. Older animals may also develop a single spot with age. Genetically these animals are usually not dalmatian and do not produce dalmatian animals, but should still be bred to prove it out. Various descriptors have been used to describe this morph. We will cover these below.
What about animals that are clean( free of dalmatian spots) that produce dalmatian offspring? It seems some pairings that have no spots have been known to produce spotted animals, these particular ones need to be better analyzed, as it makes it appear to be recessive. There could be other dalmatian forms out there we are unaware of, since these animals are usually disregarded as undesirable it has proven difficult to find this particular occurrence in our collections. This would be a WIP as we do not have sufficient data amongst collaborators to publish definitive results.
At LMR so far all dalmatian spot animals that have been recorded have produced Het, and Hzg Dominant forms, which have been tested through breeding. Non-dal offspring paired to non-dal offspring in over 15 seasons, including those produced from dal parents and come out clean, has so far failed to produce dalmatian offspring for us. We would love to find completely clean pairings that produce dal offspring so we can analyze the inheritance through breeding.
PHENOTYPE: Dominant (Slight Incomplete dominance has been noticed)
Allelic with: none known
25-50, and 100+ spot count descriptors
These are proposed community qualifications used to define the difference between a dalmatian and a super dalmatian. The qualification of counting spots is useful to help consumers decide if they want to invest in an animal that has no genetic identification tied to it other than pictures. It represents how strong the trait is and reveals just how many generations the trait has been stacked through line breeding. We propose a range of overlapping qualifications for this as you would not eliminate an extreme if it is missing a single spot. This is why counting spots is a poor qualification for a trait. The extreme part of this trait should represent animals that will produce very high coverage offspring where dalmatian is the dominant trait of the phenotype being produced and appears as a Hzg type animal, meaning it will not produce any clean animals if paired to a non-dalmatian.
This means the breeder will need to genetically test if his dalmatian parents are homozygous for the trait. Technically a "super" has to be homozygous as "super" is a non-genetic substitute term for homozygous in this case.
The term super dalmatian in the community is used only to emphasize that there are “a lot of spots” and does not follow the normal nomenclature set forth by the rest of the reptile community to denote the Hzg form of an incomplete dominant trait. Super dalmatians should be reserved for the extremely spotted dalmatians that prove to be homozygous. There are notable differences in some lines of dalmatian though. There are some theories that could explain the differences in the trait when discussing with geneticists. One is that there may be multiple dalmatian traits or epistic traits contributing to the dalmatian traits, or additional polygenes that affect the formation and size of the spots. This explains why certain size spots need to be bred to have them added to the phenotype as we'd be directly selecting for that trait.
The Inkspot is arguably everyone’s favorite dalmatian variant. It is characterized by spots as large as a pea. These are large impressive black spots that occasionally appear in overlapping clusters and can sometimes form interesting patterns and shapes resembling circles or even letters and numbers.
These are faded spots that seem to form with color and sometimes appear or disappear depending on the animal being fired up or not. They usually have a darker center and fade towards the edges when small, larger ones are faded in the center and darker at the edge, and display the base color in the faded areas.
These are overlapping spots that create a cluster on the animal and have proven to be a heritable attribute of the trait. We have even observed clusters shaped like the number 5 and her offspring had clusters that made the shape of a 5, 6 and J in several offspring. This seems to work similarly to how birthmarks work in humans.
These are spots with red inside the black spot, this appears to be genetic and only one parent needs to contribute to pass this on. This gives more evidence to the multiple allelic theory for how this trait behaves.
When pinstripe is present dalmatian spots will begin to orient horizontally on the animal and often even follow clear lines or the pinstripe themselves as the spots develop on the animal.
Lilly white is a leucistic morph and is the opposite of adding melanin which is what dal spots are doing, it seems lilly suppresses the reaction that would normally form dalmatian spots, likely because leucism suppresses melanin. On phantom lilly's we begin to see spots propagate in the areas that melanin begins to infuse back into the animal due to phantom which continues to support the lilly supressing dalmatian theory.
with-All other morphs
Just add dalmatian spots! Except on lilly pattern.
Pinstripe – (Structure and color)
The pinstripe trait was first described by Allen Repashy and further defined in Rhacodactylus: The Complete Guide. The trait was defined as raised scales along the sides of the dorsum, separating it from the laterals. The trait is often accompanied by a white colored pinstripe pattern but can also be the color of the base, orange, yellow, tangerine, or pink. Pinstripe was one of the most desired traits when they were first being worked on in the hobby. They can be added to any project in a single generation and will usually affect most offspring if not all.
This behavior is very similar to how dominant or incomplete dominant Het and Hzg phenotypes behave. Pinstripe is engrained in many collections and breeding it out can take several generations. Because of this, it is important to choose animals that work for your particular project that have the right amount of pinstripe to tiger ratio. Animals completely lacking pin are usually in the tiger, or XXX categories. This represents animals we consider to have little to zero pinstripe trait influence. While Quadstripes are considered animals with a very strong pinstripe influence that usually orients pattern horizontally. These animals also have a clean horizontal pattern with little jagged edges in the pattern.
Breeding the two extreme contrasting forms together can cause offspring to immediately lose tiger patterning. Offspring are produced with pinstripe and we begin to see the formation of horizontal pattern organization. Pinstripe in this example is always the stronger of the two. Pinstripe although simple to identify and well understood, is responsible for certain interactions that have been labeled as a trait in the hobby, when it is a characteristic of two genes clashing together. One, in particular, is "reverse pin", which is just tiger pushed by pin as discussed earlier. The other is brindle which is pattern being broken on the upper laterals, this is due to pinstripe and tiger again clashing. These animals will also have a "reverse pin" in the majority of cases.
PHENOTYPE: Dominant to Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known
When WP is present the pinstripe takes on a white to cream color. The thickness of the pinstripe can be displayed in various forms depending on how many generations of stacking and refinement have been done with the trait. The white coloration is also correlated to how exaggerated the raised scales appear.
Takes on the color from the harlequin trait and constrains the pattern between the upper lateral and belly.
The phantom trait has often been referred to as phantom pinstripe. This is a combo morph and two distinct traits controlled by different genes. The phantom trait mutes the white color of the pinstripe but loses its dominance towards the base of the tail revealing the white or orange color of the pinstripe again. Light color and expression of the physically raised scales will still be present though.
This is where we find "reverse pin" combos and with stronger tigering it will break through pinstripe and can cause pattern to migrate into the dorsum. Dominance levels of this interaction have a large range. We find that tiger can be cleared from the laterals and pushed along the pinning and pattern, representing as freckling, or appear to be "brindle".
Pinning with several breaks that resembles dashing.
Pinning that is not 100%
Tangerine – (Color)
Tangerine is a trait that has been worked on since the early 2000s and originated from Repashy stock. Therefore, it is safe to say this is likely an early on wild-type trait acting as an enhancer that has been distributed throughout the hobby. The gene was recognized by Caponetto in 2005/2006. He began working the gene from a particularly nice animal named “Pink”. She produced his founding animal that was outcrossed and refined into the hyper-tangerine animals we now find in the hobby. Several other breeders have also produced stunning tangerine-colored offspring. There are hints of a new variant possibly circulating, something we still need more data on and are working with breeders to get more data on.
The gene seems to infuse the entire animal’s pattern color with orange to deep tangerine coloration. This is an additive effect on top of all other traits. High white patterned animals receive a yellow hue and some with pink coloration. When both parents are contributing tangerine we can produce hyper tangerines, this is why the trait behaves like an incomplete dominant trait. Hyper to Hyper produces nearly 100% hyper tangerine animals of varying intensity. In these animals, the tangerine is so strong and vibrant that it overcomes even the effects of phantom that normally suppress coloration. From LMR’s experience, this is one of the primary traits responsible for high-color adult phantoms whereas early on phantoms tended to be dark and have a more muted color.
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete dominant
Allelic with: none known
This produces brighter deeper oranges in the OP. With the WP variant, we begin to see pink coloration and orange/yellow-tinged animals. This is where the bubblegum pink description comes from, this coloration seems to fade in several animals and has been observed spreading all the way down towards the tail in the best examples.
The pinning is tinged in tangerine and pink color producing tangerine to orange and pink hues.
With just phantom, tangerine infuses the suppressed pattern only. If the animal is a yellow base phantom we can create the tangerine patternless animals. When a high ratio of tiger is present in yellow tangerine phantoms it breaks up the yellow base producing animals like strawberry tiger and strawberry blonde.
with-Lilly White (WIP)
This is a WIP with lilly white as we are still gathering data on the combo. We are looking into highlighter yellow coloration and neon orange coloration that appears to affect the lilly white coloration. Currently, we are conducting experiments to fully understand and describe this combo interaction.
This trait is also infused with tangerine and appears as a light, somewhat translucent, orange-colored snowflake pattern.
Hypo – (Pattern color)
The hypo trait has been around since we began working with the species. It remained undescribed as hypo by both breeders and hobbyists alike, with a few exceptions. With some evidence starting to emerge during the early 2000s, when we started using cream-on-cream to describe a particular morph that displayed the early signs of reduced melanin and that didn’t solely involve the yellow base. Cream, was described by Allen Repashy in a Reptiles USA 2002 article. In the article, Allen stated the possibility of a unicolored cream animal within the next few years could be attainable through selective breeding. In 2004 AC Reptiles shared some examples of cream-on-cream animals and later coined the “C2” term when establishing his project. For clarity C2 means “Cream squared”. Unfortunately, lots of confusion has been caused by breeders who misinterpreted C2 and thought it stood for Citrus. In 2006, during a Rhacodactylus Symposium, Allen went on to present several examples of developed morphs that can be seen as hypo variants of its particular phenotype. However, hypo wasn’t adopted as a term yet to describe the variations we were seeing, even though there was clear evidence of inheritance being presented in 2006.
Around 2015 Tom Favazza began to describe hypo’s characteristic inheritance and thus started using the hypo term. The article can be found here. Hypo may not always be apparent to everyone. Hypo is dominant but doesn't fully express all of the time. The forms of hypo act inc-dom. "True Hypo" is a misnomer, as hypo refers to a trait, and "True Hypo" refers to a human descriptor of the trait's level of dominance over the other traits in that specific animal. Animals with hypo can fire up, more or less, depending on its dominance over other traits. Hypo is what causes orange pattern to fade to white with age and white pattern to go paper white. Hypo also causes base color to lighten with age. Hypo can be dominant over the melanin from phantom but does not alter phantom's effect on pattern. Hypo is all over the place in today’s collections.
As we start to recognize hypo as a description of a gene that causes a reduction of normal melanin and as it is more readily adopted in the community, we must continue to maintain good breeding practices to track it in collections. It is important to note, if you’re planning to use the term, you need to breed your animals out to prove which form of hypo is present by examining the development of your phenotype spread. There are no shortcuts here, only experience in identifying your line's trait and knowing exactly how they affect phenotypes.
CATEGORY: Color Modifier
PHENOTYPE: Dominant (Slight Incomplete dominance has been noticed)
Allelic with: none known
Hypo on a black base produces lavender. The color can range from a pale grey to purple-colored lavender, to the rarest which is a sky blue hue, and found in few collections. The range of color here has mostly to do with how refined the hypo is, and how many other traits the animal has that contribute to the overall phenotype. Epistasis may well be the greatest factor affecting the color tones of the different types of hypo.
Hypo on a phenotype that naturally reduces melanin produces an animal with little to no dark coloration. You may notice areas that normally keep dark pigment such as under the tail base, and kneecaps, have significantly reduced coloration. These animals can be a pale yellow to a unicolor white cream color (which is yellow with reduced yellow pigment) which can be classified as a C2. Phantom variants produce silver and peach-colored tones as phantom suppresses coloration and produces more melanin.
When normal dark or dirty reds get hypo added we will see a reduction of brown and/or black melanin. Hypo on red base produces neon reds to pink colored animals. These animals also fire down differently, tails are more uniform in color and lack dark pigment that is normally seen in reds without hypo. Hypo reds are also usually accompanied by WP instead of OP. The reduction of melanin, as the hypo trait becomes more dominant, lends itself to more consistent and clean-looking base tones.
Produces mostly silver to grey-colored animals. The coloration and phenotype spread here can be massive, as this produces complex advanced phenotypes, therefore requiring the breeder to know their lines well as more genes are added. You should expect at minimum 4 trait contributions to the overall phenotype here so we are well into advanced morphs, and where traits fight for dominance of the phenotype.
This produces a tangerine color on WP animals. ACR uses the Bubblegum Pink descriptor here at times. Since tangerine is a strong contributor here we can also find trait dominance fighting as hypo tries to reduce some of the tangerine coloration. When phantom is left out of the picture here we can begin to notice a more stable phenotype.
Hypo on the WP, OP, pinstripe traits causes white to be more paper white. While OP is significantly rarer it seems that this color turns more of a yellow or faded tone as Hypo tens to reduce coloration and melanin.
Cold fusion is a form of hypo that has been line-bred to produce a sky-blue color in animals. This hypo form appears to be a product of refinement. The sky-blue color has proven over several generations and contributed to unique, yellows, reds, lavenders, and extreme animals with a paper white WP. This particularly refined hypo variant was produced solely by Tom @Geckological. This form has been referred to as an enhancer gene as it appear so be responsible for other idiosyncrasies not seen in the other forms of hypo.
Lilly White – (Pattern color)
Lilly white is one of the first recognized gene variants to occur within the captive-bred population. The breeder who founded this trait was Lilly Exotics.
Lilly white is an incomplete dominant trait. This means that it produces a mixed phenotype with the wild-type allele where the two genes sit. It is not codominant. Lilly white came after all the contributors had already proved many traits and their genetic inheritance. The lilly white gene proved to be an excellent tool to use to affirm working theories. Being that we can make lilly versions of all the phenotypes in the hobby it helps confirm the work within this document.
The lilly white gene is a leucistic gene and the Hzg form has proven to be lethal, producing animals that struggle to breathe, have trouble with motor skills, and fail to eat. For the many that have been produced, they usually only live a couple of days to one week. This is likely due to how extreme the reduction in melanin is in this morph and the physiology of crested geckos. Leucism has been known to cause issues in other species and has similarly led to death. Melanin has been found in organs of several species and, although not completely clear to science what the exact function of melanin is in these parts of the body, some speculate that it facilitates organ development and function. Although a purely white animal is a highly sought-after phenotype, the super lilly form is highly discouraged.
What do we call non-Lilly offspring?
Animals that hatch and do not display lilly white characteristics can just be referred to by their normal traits or morph. If you, as a breeder, want to choose to also include that it is a sibling of a lilly then we recommend “non-lilly sibling” be used to do so. This helps breeders to avoid using them to pair to lilly white animals as they are going to be related, which will aid in outcrossing the gene further.
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known
This produces lillies with all the different base colors and base color combos mentioned in the base color section. The difference here is that the lilly gene significantly brightens or intensifies the base color. So yellows become more vibrant, oranges deeper, reds more neon or deeper in color, lavenders more lavender and consistent depending on the hypo, blacks, however, are still black.
The phantom lilly is one of the more extreme combos. The phantom gene shows just how strong of an effect it has at suppressing the dorsal area of the animal. This highlights the areas phantom has less of an effect on, specifically the whitest areas of the animal, and how it loses dominance towards the base of the tail.
with-Cappuccino = Frappuccino
This phenotype is called the frappuccino, producing one of the newest combo morphs in the hobby, having tons of variation depending on what other traits each parent is carrying. This phenotype has a distinct headstamp producing dark pigment and deep orange coloration. The phantom frappuccino produces a further suppression of the white patterning caused by lilly white, producing darker, higher contrast animals with more vibrant coloration.
with-Supper Cappuccino, Lilly White - Sorak
The super variant of this trait is called the sorak. This variant has a dark granite-like pattern with aberrant broken bands on a translucent grey background. Other variants we’ve seen have white blotching and significantly reduced melanin reduction. Only melanin seems to be present in the chromatophore no orange, red, or yellow pigment is produced in this combo.
This trait seems to produce lilly whites where the white part turns deep tangerine instead of staying white. We have also produced highlighter yellow variations where only one parent contributed tangerine genetics. This yellow may or may not be attributed to tangerine, this is still a WIP to determine if tangerine is in fact causing this reaction. Some of these develop with age and the color change happens at different times. They can be produced in various base colors and base combo variants.
Snowflake gets a big boost here and is what is producing the full coverage animals that are near or full white.
There have been some observed strange interactions with lilly animals, hatching supers that could possibly be Partho. Other strange unique pattern interactions have also been noticed and one we have at LMR on loan from Kodi's Cresteds appears to be a chimera. The animal displays lilly pattern on one half of its body and normal patterning on the other. It is also split by two different tiger developments displaying a pinned horizontal patterning on one side and a stronger tiger pattern on the other. This split can also be seen on the belly. Something interestingly pointed out by Anthony Caponetto was that trait characteristics often follow a separation between the two down the center of animal's bodies showing a stronger or weaker dominance of distinct traits following the mid-dorsal line along the spine, this feature has been noticed in our lilly breeding collab with several animals that has softscale, or EB where the traits fight for dominance along the spine.
Axanthic – (Color)
Axanthism in crested geckos takes on the same form as in other animals where it removes yellow to red coloration produced in the topmost layer of the chromatophore, the xanthophore. This trait was first discovered in the UK and later purchased by US breeder Brian Butler at Altitude Exotics. The odds of a single mutation occurring are staggering. To have multiple axanthic lines show up is such a short time period, shortly after the UK line was introduced, is not necessarily a coincidence. The gene is recessive and so Hets were likely distributed before the hobby knew what they were. This is most likely why the different lines of this trait appear to be compatable. There were three lines that all appeared within a short time frame, with many since... they are AE, MSL, and Obscurial. We must state that the MSL line has an originating animal that may go back much further than any other documented het axanthic. Eddie Shelton mentioned that it traces back 15 years. Some slight differences have been noted with each line... some having slight yellowish or red coloration. If you look at other axanthic species you will notice that not all xanthophores are eliminated and some subtle coloration may sometimes remain.
Allelic with: none known
One of the only base colors unaffected is black, while yellow and red seem to produce brown and red-tinged tones.
Retains paper white harlequin pattern coloration on a black to brown base color. It has been noted that much of the white faded, but as selective breeding continues we are seeing more white pattern holding onto these animals.
This is still a WIP but it appears the hypo effect this morph where it produces a silver light colored base axanthics. Although much evidence has been seen in the hobby Tom is currently working this project to prove out every base and hypo contribution to note the differences if any in the phenotype combos.
Paper-white pinstripe coloration was noted early on and was the strongest expression of WP on axanthics. The level of stacking in pins and WP are most likely the cause.
Creates a very dark animal as phantom also disrupts white pigment, this means we primarily are left with a black to brown colored phantom, but the usual areas of white pattern are still unaffected and remain in this combo.
Lilly contributes white pigment and produces a greater expression of white coloration on axanthics. Here you can see a good example of some yellow coloration from the lilly still coming through from xanthophore-producing pigment granules.
Cappuccino – (Color)
Cappuccino is one of the newest traits to be discovered. It has been around the hobby for several years and the source seems to have come from Reptiles by Mack. Reptile City Korea was one of the first to begin to try and work them into a group of projects. They were outcrossed before realizing they had a super form. RCK is responsible for bringing them into the mainstream hobby.
The animals were initially chosen for their resemblance to the axanthic. After several outcrosses the animals were eventually intercrossed, producing a super cappuccino. This produced a dark animal with translucent skin and either pitch black eyes or broken irises. From this success, many of the various phenotypes described in this document have been crossed into the cappuccino and produced the large variation we see, from pinned to tiger, WP, and OP animals. Remember all cappuccinos are Hets for super cappuccino, the super form is Hzg, making this an incomplete-dominant trait. The super form, although uniformly dark in appearance, was originally labeled melanistic. However, it also resembled many translucent morphs from other species in the herp hobby. This has caused much debate and discourse amongst community members. Regardless of the specifics, the super form has been revised to be named super cappuccino, instead of melanistic or translucent, to help diffuse the discourse in the community. Up close, the scalation of the super form takes on a silver to grey to black appearance. There seems to be only diluted melanin left, thus making the animal translucent in appearance. The scales are also modified and less dense making the animals feel softer to the touch. Head structure in the super form is compromised, likely due to how extreme this trait is at muting and suppressing all other traits. Another huge characteristic of the super (Hzg) form of the morph is the eyes. Although not present in all, the iris appears to be malformed. Although no official tests have been done, the animals appear to still be able to track their prey. New traits, like this, highlight many of the points described in the first parts of Foundation Genetics.
This morph has a long way to go, as we continue to discover more information we will be posting articles about it that are developed by community learders which can be found under the Foundation Genetics Overview page.
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known**
Cappuccino of any base color has been shown to produce unique combos. The red base however seems to be much more orange in color and difficult to produce as of yet. Hypo neon reds still have to be worked into this morph to see how much variability there may be.
We have found that WP is much more difficult to find in this morph. Animals that do have WP show a reduction in overall pattern as the cappuccino gene seems to reduce lateral and dorsal coloration. OP is also reduced over time and is currently the most common pattern color found in this morph.
When phantom is present in the cappuccino, it becomes difficult to identify cappuccino in the animal as both morphs produce nearly overlapping phenotypes. The animals produced are usually darker than most phantom combos and have a stronger tendency towards tiger patterning. As the animal matures though it can sometimes become easier to tell.
Hypo added to the cappuccino produces similar results to what we find with other hypo-labeled animals in that the dark coloration is reduced, however, we suspect that hypo to hypo capp crosses will produce the most obvious variations.
The cappuccino originally started with pinstripes. It appears pinstripe is not a direct part of the trait but rather that the originals were pinstripe combos. This proved to be one of the primary methods of helping to identify the phenotype across the globe as they produce a unique pinstripe with little patterning. We are seeing more and more combos without pin that are starting to show evidence that pin is not part of the phenotype but rather a product of breeding practices.
The super capps develop splotches of tan to off-white markings in varying degrees, some with little to none and others with considerable amounts but these marks typically appear later (usually within the first or second shed). The iris of the animal appears malformed as well. Super cappuccino PSA.
Combo with lilly (Frappuccino)
This combo brings together two of the strongest incomplete dominant traits in the hobby. While cappuccino tends to darken the animal the lilly removes melanin. This results in the two traits fighting for dominance and creating a very high contrast phenotype. Most animals have a pronounced dark-colored head and blotching from each as they fight for dominance of the phenotype.
Just like how the Frappuccino creates a contrasting phenotype this pushes back on the lilly white gene even further as phantom adds even more melanin and suppresses pattern coloration. This produces very high contrast animals. Pushing back the lilly gene to reveal the phenotype combination that lilly usually dominates.
The Sorak is a super cappuccino lilly white. Super cappuccino is very strong, this combo is extreme and creates a black/grey/silver animal with white blotches. The phantom variant may have strong tiger patterning as it is the most dominant of traits. All five below show some similarity with a sort of ring-tailed lemur tail, and white fringed feet at birth. The white spreads with growth and a fracturing of the melanin begins to develop. It is more obvious in the phantom but also present in the others as well. The white in the Sorak is different in appearance from what is found in the super cappuccino, which is caused by the white patterning from lilly.
Empty Back – (Pattern and color)
This trait is similar to the superstripe trait and the pinstripe trait regarding its appearance on the animal, however, pattern color is significantly reduced and in the homozygous form almost all color is completely suppressed, some exceptions for this are yellow base and tangerine combo phenotypes where the color is modified instead of completely suppressed. The best examples of this morph are completely empty of pattern color, leaving only pinstripe and base color and usually laterally belly striping. The pinstripe scales in these animals are usually significantly raised to what we normally see with pinstripe.
Breeding results of hets provide a 1:2:1 ratio. Siblings who are het present with a reduced pattern while those who are not EB have normal colored pattering with pinstripe. Therefore, it could be that EB is a trait that modifies pattern and enhances the pinstripe trait or is epistatic with Pinstripe acting as an enhancer while reducing coat coloration. The phenotypic spread behaves incomplete dominantly as confirmed by multiple sources working on this phenotype. We have noticed slight similarities to cappuccino pinstripe animals, they are not related just phenotypically similar. This shows more of a phenotype overlap with how some traits can behave similarly. The cappuccino however does not receive enlarged scales along the pin and also has a different appearance than the EB. EB phantoms are also another combo that shows this trait behaving non-allelic and similar to other phenotype combos that can be made.
Some of the best examples of this morph have been observed in Allen’s collection back in 2007, ACR also has some very advanced animals in this category producing yellow, red, tangerine, and black base variations. The trait however is most impressive with a dark black base. The coloration of the pin can be white, cream, yellow, or tangerine depending on how many other traits are phenotypically active in the animal.
CATEGORY: Pattern and Color
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known
Yellow base comes back into play here, many animals display a wide range of yellow to orange hues. Black bases are usually very dark. Reds are also significantly darker.
The EB starts to overcome harley pattern much like phantom or cappuccino. Hets present reduced and broken pattern, Hzg animals have little pattern and are distinct. Pin coloration is cream to white or tangerine.
Displays just pins with a very dark suppressed coloration and little patterning. These animals seem to be very difficult to produce as there may be either overlapping phenotypes or the phantom is allelic with the same gene-x phenotype that EB animals resemble.
The pin coloration is tinted with tangerine color making dark orange to pink colors. yellow base begins to show more resulting in various hues.
This trait pushes in the opposite direction of hypo and causes additional melanin to form. This is still a WIP but lavender EB animals are being worked on.
Superstripe – (Pattern)
Superstripe is a pattern morph that appears to be interacting with the structural and horizontal forming pinstripe trait. The dorsum is completely filled (color ranging from orange to cream to higher whites) with a stripe down the center of the dorsum. The stripe color will be whatever the base color of the animal is. This thin line, of base color, is where the name superstripe comes from and is the defining feature of this morph.
There are currently attempts at adding tangerine, paper white, and lilly white to impact the color of the dorsal. While the essence of superstripe may be its own trait, it may present as this phenotype as an epistatic phenotype with pinstripe and EB. A perfect superstripe will have a dorsal stripe in addition to quad stripes and 100% pinstripe. However, there are cases where a superstripe is produced that has dashed quad striping and even a few missing pins at the base of the animal’s tail. The trait behaves like a recessive to incomplete-dominant trait in that a heterozygous animal will show little hint that a superstripe could be produced when paired to another Het. In several animals, the thickness of the stripe in the trait seems to fade or thin on the lower quarter of the dorsal towards the base of the tail and retreats to the edges of the pinstripe.
Emptyback animals have been occasionally produced, however, it has not been determined if this is a qualifying trait that is required to create the morph. Some speculation could be that EB is part of the morph making it a combo. EB is something that has been produced amongst all superstripe collections that have collaborated to produce the work in this document. The phenotypic explanation is that superstripe could be a recessive epistatic mutation or an EB combo. More breeding and tests amongst various collections need to take place as this is a complex phenotype involving several heritable traits.
PHENOTYPE: Possibly acting as recessive and/or Incomplete-Dominant
Allelic with: none known
The flame down the dorsum becomes very broken and reduced in color likely caused by how strong tiger is in the animal. Hets can have breaks in the pattern and significantly reduced coloring and will be somewhat bolstered with thicker pattern at the edges. While the Hzg form here clearly displays superstripe and has additional patterning on the legs and belly from harlequin.
When yellow base is bred into these the yellow base coloration in the center of the dorsal also gets suppressed and displays either black or reddish coloration depending on the primary base color.
This looks very similar to the superstripe but with phantom which suppresses the coloration of the dorsal pattern color. You will still be able to see a much darker thin stripe from the superstripe in the center of the dorsum. The color of the dorsum (orange, cream, or white) will fade with age as the phantom trait continues to develop. All that may be left is a dark shadow of the base color pattern and striping coming through.
with-Lilly White (WIP)
This project is still under development and is in the Het stages. Currently, faint superstriping can be seen in the Het animals produced.
Sable - (Color and Pattern) - Possible New variant (WIP)
Sable is a relatively new morph, although it has been around since 2017. The trait seems to have originated from a pair that produced the founding animal used to establish the trait's name and inheritance, this animal's name is Rialto. Sable was established by Cindy at Gecko Haven, Moomoo Saurus was also an early adopter who began to work on various phenotype combos. Two other notable breeders working on the trait are Ryan Lee Geckos and Jet Black geckos. Together they continued to further define and describe different trait interactions with various base colors and coat colors already established in the hobby. The inheritance of the trait was quickly noticed to produce 50/50 odds in the offspring. Establishing that the trait could be dominant, incomplete dominant, or codominant.
This trait has been proven by several breeders to produce a unique phenotype resulting in animals with thick white patches of pattern, which seems to be the highlight of the trait, a secondary part of the trait is the lateral color that usually fades with age, turning into a greyish tan tone. This trait also produces animals with white pattern that outlines the head crests. Dorsum patterns also have a checkered-like pattern down the center of several. Young animals, appear to have little white pattern that develops quickly and extends down into the upper laterals from the dorsum, sometimes referred to as “drippy.” They also have white spotting that expands to a high white as they age, this is different from snowflake. The high white pattern is likely a result of the trait subduing yellow and orange tones on the animal as it ages that also tends to produce muted headstamps. Another characteristic of several animals is a line down the center of the dorsum. These notable characteristics of the trait resemble those seen in other traits such as cappuccino, phantom, and gene-x. Although we are still in the early development stage with Sable we are excited to see breeders collaborating their results and projects.
CATEGORY: Pattern and color
PHENOTYPE: Dominant to Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known
Possible super form, (Complete, Hzg)
A unique phenotype has been produced that may indicate this trait has a super form. Several have been produced out of the same pool of animals. Several more steps are left to confirm the Hzg form. Primarily the new phenotpye must be bred into non-Sable animals to see if they produce 100% Sable results. The other is to eliminate this being a combo with another trait. This step is needed in order to confirm that there isn't an unknown trait interaction that would make this a combo.
Sables with WP or OP have lighter coloration on the laterals, the orange pattern tends to get inhibited as the animal ages. Here you can see hatchlings and how the laterals develop with age.
Pinstripe is a strong gene and tends to make the dorsum more solid and remove the checkered-like patterning. Pinstripe can potentially make identification more difficult.
No phantoms have knowingling been recorded with this trait yet.
Lavender bases and red neons have been produced.
Produces a lilly version, higher white pattern but subdued white pattern on the headstamp.
Snowflake/White Spot - Enhancer
This trait originates from Repashy stock, AC Reptiles coined the name. Snowflake was borrowed by the name assigned to a particular type of Leachianus by Philippe De Vosjoli. AC chose this name as he felt it best resembled the blooming white coloration that developed in that line of leachianus. He was right though, this trait responds to pattern by growing from WP producing more white coloration, it grows in small blobs and can follow a distinct path such as pinstripe, portholes, and other areas with white pattern.
This is one of the only epistatic traits we have found that adhere to the more common definition of epistasis. It is a prime example of; “if gene A is present then form snowflakes, if not then remain silent. As noted by AC he has bred this trait to stack it over the years and has observed a ceiling to the amount of progression that develops. However, there seems to be another variant that does develop an extreme amount of blooming x10 as much in some cases. This new variant was noticed around 2012 and has started propagating throughout the hobby. More extensive breeding is needed to determine if this is an allelic variant or if there is a new gene responsible for the new yet similar variant which we have proposed white plague, yeti, or wampa if a new variant is found.
CATEGORY: Pattern Color
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete dominant
Allelic with: none known
with – Pinstripe
Causes dripping and pattern progression outward from the pin that produces a pure white coloration often producing pattern dripping down from the pins.
Blooms from all white pattern coloration.
When phantom and WP from the coat color is present, we get an advanced morph. These animals are the traditional phantom wild-type bicolor but display a white pattern on the belly along with snowflake. These have been observed on black base, red base, yellow base, and hypo red, yellow, and lavender phantoms.
The addition of the tangerine trait, causes tangerine color to saturate into the white snowflake coloration.
SoftScale/SAF or S2/S3 – (Structural)
This is purely a physical trait, which causes a color change due to how light reflects back. This is due to the physical changes of the chromatophore. In simple terms this gene changes the structure of the scales causing them to reflect different colors than what the animal would normally display. This gives the gecko a soft matte look to the scalation and color. The most effected colors are bases like citrus, and orange causing them to pop with a soft matte and often more intense color. Blacks are deeper, orange hues are matte, and tangerine animals produce pinkish color that looks like soft serve ice cream. Yellow and red are a bit more difficult to see unless they are super soft. The lineage of this gene also seems to come from smooth animals with cleaner colors and less dramatic tigering. Originally identified in ACR’s collection this gene has already propagated in the community. It is best to breed out supers if you suspect you have one.
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete dominant
Allelic with: none known
Soft matte colored hues of WP or OP. OP geckos are more sherbet colored.
The pin scales are usually rounder and softer in appearance along with the overall scalation of the animal.
This produces what we call pitch black hues. This is still a WIP.
Yellow base Softscales can be difficult to discern but the Super Softscales receive a matte boost that makes this phenotype look like yellow velvet. The colors can also range from mustard to orange-pink.
This produces varying hues of what you would normally get with EB.
Furry Trait – (Structural)
This trait is characterized by a wide area of raised scales lining the edge of the dorsum that usually starts at the neck and extends down to the tail. In some cases the scales start all the way up at the head crest and can even extend into the tail. It is a physical trait and does not seem to be affected by many traits except pinstripe.
Allelic with: none known
The furry trait begins to follow the pinstripe and direct it horizontally with the pins.
Whitewall/Whiteout – (Pattern)
This characteristic was introduced by Matt, at Pangea, and Anthony, at AC Reptiles. It is characterized by a thick wall of cream pattern on the laterals that is often accompanied by raised scales. Whiteout is what Anthony originally named the gene or trait behind what is now called whitewall. A whitewall is basically just an "extreme" version of the whiteout, where the solid white lateral markings span the sides from limb to limb and reach up fairly high on the sides.
Anthony Caponetto has been working with these since 2004 or 2005, but had no idea what he was looking at in the beginning. Whitewalls seemed to just pop up out of nowhere in Harry x original softscale pairings. It wasn’t until years later that he figured out what the lower expression whiteouts were - and why they were so valuable (they can make whitewalls!).
Eventually realizing the less extreme form of the whitewall appearance was so subtle in some animals that he didn't think anything of it. He had sold a ton of whiteouts over the years with no idea they were capable of producing whitewalls. This explains why several breeders had whitewalls just popping up out of nowhere, from adults that didn't really seem to have the trait.
PHENOTYPE: Incomplete Dominant
Allelic with: none known