What is a Ghost Leopard Gecko?

by Helen Lowbridge
ghost leopard gecko

One of the more interesting morphs we work with is the Ghost Leopard Gecko morph. This under-utilised morph is a great addition to any collection. In this article, we will look at the morph and how it affects the appearance of Leopard Geckos.

What is the Ghost Leopard Gecko Morph?

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Ghost Leopard gecko morph. The first problem is that few breeders work with this morph. After it was discovered by either Alex Hue or Ray Hine, other morphs became popular such as the Tangerine, Raptors, etc.

The Ghost morph removes the majority of dark colouration from the leopard gecko. Instead of the usual yellow pigmentation that comes through as the gecko gets older, the gecko tends to display a shade of green. The green displayed can vary from a light sea-green to more of a ‘military green’. We think it looks like a mossy green.

In addition, a leopard gecko with Ghost has an amazing ability to change its colour. They can appear lighter or darker depending on the temperature, time of year, light and even their mood. We have found that colour changes occur from the hatching age. This makes them an interesting member of any family whether you have one or several leopard geckos.

Interaction with Other Morphs

Some leopard gecko morphs can make subtle, or not so subtle, changes to the appearance of leopard geckos with other morphs. This is very true of the Ghost. A Ghost Mack Snow for instance is much lighter and when hatched doesn’t display as a typical black and white baby leopard gecko, but rather coffee and white colouration.

Other combinations are possible and how they interact can be really interesting. However, to be sure that a baby is a ghost, observation of the baby’s development is vital. A change of shading from day to day is really important, and this occurs from birth.

A baby Mack Snow Ghost Leopard Gecko
A Juvenile Jungle Mack Snow Ghost

Confusion with Other Genes?

Some people can confuse the Ghost morph with other genes. However, some inexperienced keepers confuse Murphy’s Patternless or Blizzard with Ghost. But there is one significant difference between those two morphs and the Ghost, and that is namely that Blizzard and Murphy’s Patternless are both recessive genes.

A recessive morph requires both parents to pass on one copy of the gene for the baby to display the gene. When either parent doesn’t pass on the gene, then the morph doesn’t display.

In contrast, the Ghost gene is dominant. Only one parent requires the gene for the morph to display. We have proven this across two generations of our Leopard Geckos now. The Ghost gene appeared spontaneously in our Leopard Geckos from Hines lines.

In our breeding group, the Grandfather, Leo, produced the first Ghost in our first season. We kept a male, Casper, who has fathered several ghosts with unrelated geckos who have no history of the ghost gene.

It is important to note that the Ghost gene doesn’t seem to have any super form, which makes this different from Mack Snow Leopard Geckos where two copies of the gene will create a Super Mack Snow.

We already have an article about Mack Snow Leopard Geckos where you can read about this wonderful gene..

Hidden Gene in Super Mack Snows

One of the other interesting factors when it comes to the Ghost gene is the challenge of identifying it. In Super Mack Snows, this is very challenging. In fact, to most inexperienced Gecko keepers, a Super Mack Snow Ghost and a Super Mack Snow with no Ghost will look completely the same.

However, it is the behaviours that are more important here. The Ghost, as mentioned, can adjust its shading depending on a factor that is not yet completely understood. A Super Mack Snow that has the Ghost gene will do the same. This means that at one moment they can look like a traditional Super Mack with a white background and beautiful black spots and the next day look almost like a Black Night leopard gecko.

Breeding Ghost Leopard Geckos

Because the Ghost leopard gecko is a dominant gene, it only requires the father or mother to have the gene. If you have either with the gene, half of the offspring will have the ghost gene. If both parents have the ghost gene, then 75% of the offspring will display the ghost gene,

Technically speaking, 25% of a Ghost x Ghost pairing should produce a baby with two copies of the Ghost gene. But as there is no known Super Ghost, it would be challenging to know which babies from a pairing would carry two copies of the gene without breeding it out.

If you were to breed a ghost with two copies of the gene, then 100% of the babies would carry the Ghost gene.

The Future of Ghost Leopard Gecko

There are a few breeders working with the Ghost gene, but not many. And some breeders could be working with the gene but don’t know it because they don’t recognise it or not aware of the ghost gene.

As a result of the few Leopard Gecko breeders working with the gene, DJL Exotics included, the price for a Ghost Leopard Gecko can be high. However, we don’t believe it should be. The value of the ghost gene is that it is dominant, requiring only one parent to have a copy. Therefore, it is easier to breed and shouldn’t cost more than a Mack Snow.

In future years we hope to breed this gene into other morphs and patterns. We look to add the Ghost to Tremper and Bell lines.

Final Word: The Ghost Leopard Gecko

The Ghost Leopard Gecko is a stunning morph, and generally, Ghosts are very friendly. No health problems have been reported as associated with them, and this dominant gene is a fantastic addition to the hobby. Their colour variance makes them interesting to observe and the future looks bright for their potential.

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