Gecko keepers have many reasons for breeding.  Two of the most common ones are:

  • increasing the population of species that are endangered in the wild
  • creating new and unusual colors and patterns for a particular species

These goals can, and do, co-exist.  However, proponents of each type may feel that the other’s goals are detrimental to the species.

Wild Type, Designers or Both?

Breeders who concentrate on producing wild type geckos feel strongly that sub-species and locale lines should be kept pure.  While mutations do occur in nature, the line breeding and in-breeding that’s necessary to achieve designer morphs weakens the species and creates an ever-growing gene pool of genetically fragile specimens.  In addition, the resulting morphs look very different from their “wild type” forebears and some feel that they make a mockery of what a specific gecko species should look like.

Those who focus on producing designer morphs argue that breeding for specific outcomes is a form of  “living art” and a longstanding, accepted human endeavor which is evident in horse and dog breeding, for example.  They feel that a responsible balance between inbreeding and outcrossing will forestall genetic weakness.  Also, the purist method of keeping lines and locales distinct leads to reduced genetic diversity since there is a limit to the number of “pure bloods” available in captivity.  Finally, there is less of a market for wild types of some species which means that fewer will be sellable and fewer people will get to enjoy and learn about them.

Rebecca Hessler, in her Gecko Time article “Natural” vs. “Man-made”: Facts and Myths about Morphs in the Leopard Gecko” discusses this issue in the leopard gecko community and makes a case for why “wild type” and “designer” breeders actually need each other and should work cooperatively.

The Questions

How do you feel about the possible conflict between breeding wild type geckos and designer geckos?  Is it an either/or issue at all for you?

What kind of guidelines or limits, if any, do you feel should be in effect when breeding for color and pattern?

What are your esthetics about wild type and designer geckos?

Is the practice of producing only wild type geckos necessarily related to preserving the species or are there other reasons?

How do your feelings about gecko breeding relate to genetic diversity, marketability and species survival?

What are your preferences in the wild type/designer controversy?

Send in Your Responses

Please let us know your thoughts and opinions by filling out the Response Box below.  You don’t have to answer any or all of the questions.  Feel free to address the questions above if you want or to bring up other issues not yet raised.  We will be publishing all the comments on December 10, so we need your responses by December 8:

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AlizaVisit Website

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She has been breeding leopard geckos since 2005 and has also been successful in breeding Coleonyx, African Fat Tail and Gargoyle geckos. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing tai chi and surfing the internet.

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