Leopard geckos come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. While some color morphs are quite common, others are rare and highly sought after. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the rarest colour morphs found in leopard geckos.
Common Colour Morphs
Leopard geckos get their name from the spotted leopard-like pattern that runs along their backs. This original wild-type colouration features tan or yellow base colour with black spots and bands. It continues to be one of the most common looks for pet leopard geckos today.
Other relatively common morphs include:
– Albinos – Lacking black pigment, these geckos are white or yellow with orange or red eyes.
– Jungle – Increased black spotting over most of the body.
– Mack snow – Reduced dark pigment causes a white or yellow appearance. Eyes are often blue.
– Patternless – Lacking the iconic leopard spotting, these geckos have a fairly solid base colour.
– Reverse stripe – Instead of dark spots on a light background, these geckos have light stripes on a darker background.
– Stripe – Bold dark stripes run along the length of the body.
Rare Natural Morphs
While genetic mutations can cause a wide array of rare and unique looks, a few naturally occurring morphs are exceptionally uncommon. These include:
– Bell albino – Extremely reduced dark pigment results in a white or yellow colour. The eyes are dark blue or black.
– Melanistic – Increased black pigment causes these geckos to be nearly solid jet black.
– Paradox albino – Albinos that still retain some dark pigmented spots.
– Patternless reverse stripe – Lacking most pattern elements, these geckos have reverse striping on a fairly solid coloured body.
Rare Genetic Morphs
Through selective breeding programs, breeders have created a number of dazzling leopard gecko morphs. Many of these are quite rare as breeders work to establish and improve new lines. Some of the rarest and most coveted include:
– Eclipse – Caused by the aptly named “eclipse” gene, these geckos have large dark eyespots on a patternless body.
– Enigma – Extreme pattern distortions cause a “crazy” mixed up look. May display neurological problems.
– Galactica – Interaction between two recessive genes produces very faint spotting and banding over white skin.
– Gem snow – Combines mack snow and patternless genes to produce solid yellow or white geckos.
– Lava – Dramatic orange and red coloration along with reddish eyes.
– Marble flame – Marbled patterning in shades of yellow, orange, and red reminiscent of dancing flames.
– Phantom – Ghostly white appearance with faint leopard spotting. Red eyes.
– Silkback – Lacking the tiny spiky scales found on normal leopard gecko skin. Skin has a soft, silk-like texture.
– Super snow – Intense version of the mack snow morph lacking nearly all dark pigment.
Most Expensive Morphs
The rarity and visual appeal of certain morphs means breeders can demand top dollar for these geckos. Some of the most expensive leopard gecko morphs include:
|Lava||$3,000 – $5,000|
|Silkback||$2,000 – $4,000|
|Eclipse||$1,000 – $3,000|
|Enigma||$600 – $2,000|
|Patternless reverse stripe||$1,000 – $1,500|
Prices can vary based on factors like genetics, breeder reputation, age, and availability. For the most coveted morphs, prices are often highest when new mutations first appear and then gradually decrease as they become more established in breeding projects.
Why Are These Morphs So Rare?
There are a few key reasons why certain leopard gecko morphs are exceptionally uncommon:
– **New genetic mutations** – Novel color and pattern variations arise randomly as genetic mutations. When first discovered, these new morphs are incredibly rare. It takes time and effort by breeders to establish and spread new mutations.
– **Difficulty breeding** – Some morphs are biologically challenging to reproduce. issues like infertility, low hatch rates, high embryo mortality, and juvenile health problems can limit numbers.
– **Intricate genetics** – More complex morphs rely on the interaction of multiple rare recessive genes. The right genetic combination has very low odds of occurring randomly. Dedicated breeding programs are required.
– **Limited gene pool** – When a new morph first appears, there may be only a few founding specimens. This restricted gene pool limits diversity and numbers until more geckos can be produced.
– **Legal protection** – Some localities have placed restrictions on the collection or export of rare leopard gecko populations. This can constrain access to new genetic lines.
The dazzling colors and patterns of rare leopard gecko morphs are part of what makes these reptiles so popular as pets. Breeders are continuously working to develop and establish new mutations and combinations. While common morphs are easily obtained, the most exceptional and coveted geckos are still sparsely produced. Restricted genes pools, complex genetic interactions, breeding challenges, and simple novelty all contribute to the rarity of the most unique leopard gecko colour variations.