Phases of the leopard gecko - What they are and examples

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The leopard geckoEublepharis macularius) is a lizard that belongs to the group of geckos, specifically the family Eublepharidae and the genus Eublepharis. They are native to eastern regions, having as natural habitats desert, semi-desert and arid ecosystems from countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal and parts of India. They are animals that have a rather tame behavior and closeness to human beings, which has meant that this exotic species has been used frequently as a pet for a long time..

However, in addition to its behavior and the relative ease of raising it, the main trait that attracts people to have this gecko as a companion animal is the presence of a great diversity of patterns and colors quite striking, which have been generated from mutations in the species or by the control of certain environmental factors that can affect the color of the body. In this AnimalWised article, we want to offer you detailed information about the different variations or Phases of the leopard gecko, aspect that has given it various particular names based on the coloration.

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  1. What are the phases of the leopard gecko and how do they occur?
  2. Leopard gecko phase calculator
  3. Types of leopard gecko
  4. Examples of leopard gecko phases

What are the phases of the leopard gecko and how do they occur?

The types of leopard gecko that we can find are known as phase, that is, their variety of colors and patterns. Nevertheless, ¿how do these variations occur?

It is important to mention that some types of animals, such as those belonging to the Reptilia class, have different types of chromatophores or pigment cells, which gives them the ability to express various types of colors in their bodies. Thus, xanthophores produce yellow coloration; the erythrophores, red and orange; and melanophores (equivalent of melanocytes in mammals) produce melanin and are responsible for the black and brown pigments. For their part, iridophores do not produce a particular pigmentation, but rather have the property of reflecting light, so it is possible to visualize the green and blue coloration in some cases..

In the case of the leopard gecko, this entire process of expression of colors in the body of the leopard is coordinated by the genetic action, that is, it is determined by genes specialized in the coloring of the animal. This can happen in two ways:

Mutations

There is a process known as mutation, which consists of the alteration or modification of genetic material of the species, and in some cases when it occurs visible changes may or may not appear in individuals. Thus, some mutations will be harmful, others could be beneficial, and others may not even affect the species..

In the case of the leopard gecko, the manifestation of various color patterns on their bodies can also occur as a result of some mutations that have modified the phenotype of this species. A clear example is the case of animals born albinos, due to congenital failure to produce a particular type of pigment. However, thanks to the presence in these animals of various types of chromatophores, the others can function correctly, which gives rise to albino individuals but with colorful patches or stripes..

This type of mutations has originated three types of individuals which in the trade of the species are known as Tremper albino, Rainwater albino and Bell albino. Studies have also revealed that several of the color and pattern mutations in the leopard gecko are heritable. However, it is important to note that these mentioned names are only used by commercial breeders of this animal. In no case do they have taxonomic distinction, since the species is always Eublepharis macularius.

Expressions of the same gene

In the case of the leopard gecko, there are also some individuals that present variants in their colors, either more intense tones and other combinations different from those of the nominal individual, but that in no case has had to do with mutations, but rather respond to different expressions of the same gene.

Environmental temperature

But genes are not solely responsible for determining the coloration in the body of leopard geckos. If there are variations in the environmental temperature while the development of the embryos in the eggs takes place, this can affect the melanin production, which will result in a variation in the coloring of the animal.

Also other variants, such as the temperature in which the adult animal is, substrate, food and stress they can affect the intensity of the colors they show in captivity. These changes in the intensity of the coloration, as well as the variations of melanin due to thermal changes, are in no case heritable.

Leopard gecko phase calculator

The leopard gecko genetic or phase calculator is a tool that can be located on various websites and has as its main purpose know what the results will be in the offspring when crossing two of these individuals with different phases or patterns of coloration.

However, to use this tool you must know some basic principles of genetics and keep in mind that the genetic calculator will only be reliable if the data entered is done with the appropriate knowledge.

On the other hand, the leopard gecko phase calculator is only effective to know the results in case of monogenic or single gene mutations, which are based on Mendelian laws.

Types of leopard gecko

Although there are many phases or types of leopard gecko, we could say that the main or best known are the following:

  • Normal or nominal: they do not present mutations and can express various variations in the basic colorations.
  • Aberrant: the pattern of the spots is modified in these specimens when comparing it with the nominal one. There are different types that express different patterns.
  • Albinos: they present mutations that prevent the production of melanin, resulting in various lines of albinos with different patterns.
  • Blizzard: in this case, all the chromatophores are affected due to a failure in the formation of the embryo, so these individuals completely lack coloration in the skin, however, as the chromatophores of the eyes are formed differently, they do not are affected and do express coloration.
  • Patternless: it is a mutation that causes the absence of a pattern in the formation of the black spots characteristic of the species. As in the previous cases, there are several variants.
  • Mack snow: they present a dominant mutation that causes a white and yellow background coloration. In variations, this coloration can be purely white.
  • Giant: This mutation produces individuals much larger than normal, so a male can weigh up to 150 g, compared to 80-100 g of a normal leopard gecko.
  • Eclipse: in these cases, the mutation produces totally black eyes but without affecting the body pattern.
  • Enigma: the mutation in this case causes circular spots on the body. In addition, individuals with this change present in many cases the so-called Enigma syndrome, a disorder that is associated with the modified gene.
  • Hyper and hypo: these individuals present variations in the production of melanin. The former can produce higher amounts than normal, which causes an intensification in the coloring patterns in the spots. The latter, on the contrary, produce less of this compound, resulting in the absence of spots on the body..

As we have been able to demonstrate, the captive breeding of the leopard gecko has resulted in a manipulation of its genes, in order to selectively or controlled originate a great variety of phenotypic expressions. However, it is worth asking how far this is convenient, since the natural development of these animals is being modified. On the other hand, we must not lose sight of the fact that the leopard gecko is an exotic species and this type of animal will always be better off in its natural habitat, which is why many people consider that these animals should not be pets..

Examples of leopard gecko phases

Let's see below some examples with photos of the phases of the leopard gecko:

Nominal leopard gecko

The nominal leopard gecko refers to the phase without mutations, that is, the normal or original leopard gecko. In this phase, a body color pattern is seen that resembles a leopard, hence the name this species receives.

The nominal leopard gecko has a yellow background coloring, which is present on the head, upper body and legs, while the entire ventral area, as well as the tail, are white. The pattern of black spots, meanwhile, go from the head to the tail, including the legs. Additionally, it has some lavender stripes of a faint intensity that runs through the body and tail.

Enigma phase of the leopard gecko

The enigma phase refers to a dominant mutation in this species and the individuals that have it, instead of having stripes, have black spots in the shape of circles in the body. The color of the eyes is coppery, the tail is gray and the background color of the body is pastel yellow..

May exist various variants of the enigma phase, which will depend on the selective crosses that are made, so that they may present other colorations.

An aspect of great importance in animals that have this mutation is that they suffer a disorder, the so-called Enigma syndrome, that makes it impossible for them to make coordinated movements, so they can walk in circles, stare without moving, show tremors and even be unable to hunt for food.

Leopard gecko high yellow phase

This variant of the nominal leopard gecko has as its distinctive characteristic a fairly intense yellow coloration, what has originated the name of the phase. They may exhibit orange pigmentation on the tail, with the peculiar black spots on the body..

Some external effects during incubation, such as temperature or stress, can affect the intensity of the coloration.

RAPTOR phase of the leopard gecko

Also known as a tangerine leopard gecko. The name of this specimen comes from the initials of the English words Ruby-eyed Albino Patternless Tremper Orange, so it is an acronym and denotes the characteristics of individuals in this phase.

The eyes are deep red or ruby ​​(Ruby-eyed), the coloring of the body is a combination that comes from the albino line tremper (albino), does not have the typical patterns or body spots (patternless), but they do present a orange coloring (orange).

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