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What color should my leopard gecko be?

Leopard geckos are fascinating reptiles that come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Their coloration is one of the things that makes them so popular as pets. But what are the normal color variations for a healthy leopard gecko? Here we’ll explore the typical leopard gecko colorations and patterns and what they can tell you about your gecko’s health and genetics.

Typical Leopard Gecko Colors

Leopard geckos are named for their leopard-like spots. But the normal color for a leopard gecko is actually yellow, tan, or white. Here are some of the most common leopard gecko color variations:

  • Yellow – This is the typical wild-type color. The body is yellow or tan with dark brown or black spots.
  • Albino – Lack of melanin results in little to no coloration. Eyes are reddish.
  • Patternless – No spots. May be yellow, orange, peach, gray, white or tan.
  • White & Yellow – White base color with yellow spots/bands.
  • Red/Orange – Ranging from pale orange to crimson red. Often has yellow spots.
  • Black & White Banded – Distinct black and white banding pattern.
  • Hypo – Short for hypomelanistic, reduced black pigment results in pastel orange/yellow/tan.
  • Rainwater Albino – Pinkish white with dark eyes.
  • Mack Snow – White with grayish spots and yellow/orange eyes.

What Impacts Leopard Gecko Color

Several factors determine the color and appearance of an individual leopard gecko. These include:

  • Genetics – The genes inherited from the parents control the base colors and patterns. Selective breeding can produce new morphs.
  • Lighting – Lighting can impact color intensity. Natural UVB brings out brighter coloration.
  • Temperature – Warmer temperatures tend to produce more vibrant colors.
  • Diets – Carotenoid pigments in certain feeder insects enhance yellow/red tones.
  • Stress – Stress can cause temporary dulling or lightening of colors.
  • Age – Babies are often more brightly colored than adults.

Normal Leopard Gecko Colors by Age

Let’s look at the typical color changes as a normal leopard gecko ages:

Age Normal Color
Hatchling (0-3 months) Vibrant yellows, oranges and blacks. Whitish bands visible on tails.
Juvenile (3-12 months) Colors darken slightly. Spot patterns develop.
Adult (1-5 years) Peak coloration. Bright yellows/oranges, dark browns/blacks.
Mature Adult (5+ years) Gradual fading of colors over time.

Of course, these are just general guidelines – every gecko will show slight variations. But this gives a good overview of how colors typically develop with age.

Unusual Gecko Colors as Health Indicators

While genetics determine the base coloration, unusual or drastic color changes can be indicators of health or husbandry issues. Here are some abnormalities to look out for:

Loss of Color

Fading, dulling or bleaching of colors can signal:

  • Stress
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Lighting issues (lack of UVB)
  • Illness or metabolic bone disease

Address any husbandry issues and consult a vet if color loss persists.

Black Spots

Developing black spots or patches could indicate:

  • Injury or bruising
  • Thermal burns
  • Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection
  • Stuck shed (on toes especially)

Isolate and monitor the gecko closely. Seek exotic vet care if the spots spread or fail to improve quickly.

White Spots

White specks or patches may be a sign of:

  • Shedding issues
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Thermal burns

Review husbandry and nutrition. Seek veterinary advice if spots persist or multiply.

Yellow Coloration

Unusual yellowing around the mouth, eyes, or limbs can indicate:

  • Hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease)
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney or liver problems

Seek prompt exotic vet care for diagnosis and treatment.

Key Takeaways on Leopard Gecko Color

Here are the key points on monitoring leopard gecko coloration:

  • Normal color depends on genetics, age, diet, lighting and health.
  • Watch for loss of vibrancy, unusual dark/light patches and yellowing.
  • Dulling color can mean stress, malnutrition, dehydration or illness.
  • Black spots may signal injury, infection or shed issues.
  • White specks could indicate vitamin deficiency or burns.
  • Yellowing is not normal and may point to organ problems.
  • When in doubt, consult an exotic veterinarian.

With proper care and habitat, a healthy leopard gecko will display bright, vibrant colors. Any significant changes in your gecko’s coloration warrant a closer look at potential causes. Pay attention to color clues to spot problems early and get prompt treatment when needed. With attentive husbandry, your gecko’s true colors will shine through!