Leopard Gecko Genetics 101

 Introduction to Leopard Gecko Genetics

Leopard gecko

Inferno crossed with Blood

Leopard Geckos, Eublepharis macularius, are a small crepuscular (active at twilight) ground dwelling lizards native to the deserts of Pakistan and India.  An uncommon characteristic of the leopard gecko includes it’s movable eye-lids.  These reptiles have been kept as pets for many years and have been breed to reproduce genetic morph offspring.  There are hundreds of genetics morphs and morph combinations that can be found in the Eublepharis macularis species. These genetic morphs have been created through captive breeding projects throughout the world. Breeders are now able to identify traits in the genes passed down through generations, and utilize selective breeding techniques to reproduce those traits in offspring they produce.  Not only can leopard gecko breeders identify these traits, they are also able to identify that there are different types of traits that behave in different ways from one another.

Leopard Gecko Genetic Traits

There are a few different types of traits that leopard geckos breeders have identified in the leopard gecko genome

    • Simple Recessive: often expressed by “a” in genetics, a simple recessive trait is a trait that must be present in both parents in order to be seen in offspring.  If only one parent has recessive trait, offspring will carry trait
      leopard gecko

      Bandit Mack Snow crossed with High Yellow

      but will not show it; making the offspring heterozygous; or het for that trait.   If an offspring carries the trait and shows it visibly, that offspring is consider to be homozygous.

    • Incomplete-Dominant: an incomplete-dominant trait is visible in the first generation of offspring.  If offspring have two pairs of that gene, it can yield offspring that express the ‘super’ form of that gene.  Example: The incomplete-dominant mack snow allele, or trait, can produce a super form in some cases.  An incomplete-dominant mack snow bred to another incomplete-dominant mack snow will produce the super mack snow, or also referred to as the super snow trait , approximately 25% of the time in offspring.   While approximately 50% will have one copy of the incomplete-dominant mack snow, and 25% will not have the any alelle for incomplete-dominant mack snow, making them a normal leopard gecko.
    • Dominant: often expressed using an “A” in genetics,  a dominant trait can be expressed by offspring carrying in the same way whether it possesses one or two copies of that trait.

Common Terms used by Breeders

There are some other terms used by many breeders and genetic professionals include:

  • Morph: term used to describe any distinct variation from within a species.  Often polygenic lines are not considered “morphs” in the leopard gecko industry, while leopard geckos with dominant,incomplete-dominant and simple recessive are considered “morphs” by breeders within the trade.
  • Line-Breeding: breeding genetically related animals together to increase trait expression in offspring.
  • Polygenic: polygenic traits are also called “line-bred” traits.  Often through the process of line breeding two desirable animals together, a greater expression of the desired trait in the parents may be expressed in the offspring.  Line-breeding is also utilized to simple reproduce desired traits as well.
  • Out-Crossing: out-crossing is a process of breeding involving two animals that are not genetically related.  This process increases genetic diversity within the genome of the animal, and also decreases the chances of genetic defects.
  • Phenotype: this term is used to describe the physical appearance of an animal.
  • Genotype: This term is used to describe the genetic composition of an animal regardless of what that animal may look like.
  • Hypomelanistic: Hyopmelanistic animals have reduced dark pigments, while retaining small amounts of dark pigment.
  • Hypermelanistic: Hypermelanistic animals have increased dark pigments, this has been accomplished through polygenic breeding projects.
  • Albino/Albinism: Animals that have a significant deficiency of pigmentation in their skin, aften accompanied by red or pink eyes.

Examples of Genetic Morphs

This section will be continually updated.  If you are interested in submitting one of your morphs, please contact us on our Facebook page.  All contributions are greatly appreciated and will be accompanied by Breeder name to give proper credit for these beautiful animals.  ONLY YOUR OWN PHOTOS.

*As breeders continue to reproduce offspring of new variations of the leopard gecko species, some disagree on certain characteristics being expressed and their nature of expression. Please be aware that some ideas related to leopard gecko traits are disputed between members of the reptile community.

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Mack snow – enigma eclipse

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Mack snow

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Super Snow (‘super’ form of the Mack Snow)

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Dark Super Snow

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Hypo Mack Snow (HyopMelanistic Mack Snow)

leopard gecko

Mack Super Snow Tremper

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Bold stripe Mack snow Bell Albino

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Bandit Mack Snow Bold Stripe

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White & Yellow Tremper Albino

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leopard geckos

Red Stripe

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Super Hypo

Thanks to all those who have contributed to the page and have given us feedback!  Your support is greatly appreciated.


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