THE EARLY YEARS
We often get asked, "what is the secret recipe to produce pinks?" This was a question we found ourselves wondering as well when we first started our pink project over 10 years ago. Clean and vibrant reds were all the rage and anything less than was often overlooked. That slightly lighter shade of red? Yuck! Get rid of it! Ok maybe not but you get the gist.
There weren't any TruePinks back then but hatch enough reds and you'll see many shades expressed in the offspring. Imagine the insane amount of geckos hatched just to get better reds. What became of all those geckos who's color was lighter and therefor not as desirable at the time? Well, some of them ended up in the hands of a select few breeders who took a special interest in them to pursue making pink crested geckos!
But wait! Wasn't Fringemorphs the first to make pink crested geckos? Of course we were! We also invented the color pink itself and we made the original crested geckos in a lab out of sugar gliders and crocodiles. Don't questions us!
Ok so we weren't the first ones to start working with pinks. We were fairly new on the scene and had just started breeding. We did however manage to secure one of the best pink females at that time. She was VERY pink when fired down. We gave her the cheesy name of Peaches because that's what you do when you're new and we put her with what we had at the time; a dark harlequin male with dalmatian spots. His name was Alpha and it was a complete oddball of a pairing that I would absolutely never try again. But boy am I glad I did.
Peaches, our first pink and Alpha.
HATCHING SOME EGGS
We must have hit the genetic lottery because Blush was one of our first hatchlings from this pairing. She looked a bit different than the others. She was lighter. Not by a huge margin, but lighter. Her neck was blushing red which was a first for us. We decided she’d become our first holdback.
Now I should note that while we weren't the first breeder to work with pinks, for some reason or another we seemed to be the only breeder who continued working with them. Many breeders stopped breeding all together and pinks kind of fell into obscurity.
Once Blush reached 35g we realized we had something truly special. The difference between Blush and all her siblings was obvious. This gecko fired PINK! Against all odds Alpha and Peaches had done it.
Baby Blush next to one of her typically dark siblings.
Blush being silly.
Blush reached breeding weight in 2014. This is the photoshoot that made her famous!
Other Alpha x Peaches offspring from left to right: Badass, Fenrir, Hercules.
THE LAST ALPHA
Alpha and Peaches would give us another couple years worth of clutches but the results were anything but consistent. We did however get one more hatchling that looked different. It was plain and had some small white dots along it's side. It's coloration was also the lightest we'd seen yet!
Our oh so light colored hatchling turned out to be female and as she grew she just got better and better. When she reached breeding weight she started laying eggs. Not only did she lay eggs but they had embryos! She had never been paired so we named her Mary.
Mary was our last holdback out of Alpha x Peaches and our second TruePink.
Looking back I find it absolutely mind boggling that we got Blush and Mary out of Alpha and Peaches. There were many standouts but these two were unequalled. It just goes to show that it isn't always intuitive what you can get from a pairing. Oh and Mary's virgin eggs; yeah they didn't make it. Probably for the best.
A NEW DIRECTION
Several years passed and the variety and quality of geckos improved substantially. It was time to replace Alpha with a more suitable male. Finding a pink male back then was impossible so we had to get creative. We knew we wanted a harlequin with white or light cream. We also wanted a lighter base color as to not overpower the delicate pink color.
Enter Valerian. He had several advantages over Alpha. He had better structure. He didn't have spots. He was much lighter in coloration and he fired lavender!
Valerian unfried vs fired. An excellent match for a pink when you don't have another pink!
I had long suspected that outside of finding a pink male, a light lavender was the second best option. I can't say for certain if that's true or not but the offspring that Valerian produced with our pinks did not dissapoint!
A NEW ERA
We paired both Peaches and Blush with Valerian and the hatchlings were much more consistent in color and pattern. We knew we were on the right track when we got Penelope, Butters, Fave and Eden all in short succession.
We also started getting some decent pink males. For whatever reason males tended to be darker in coloration compared to their female siblings. They also disproportionately leaned lavender. Nevertheless, it didn't take too long until we had our first TruePink male, Ultra!
Penelope (Valerian x Peaches)
Fave (Valerian x Blush)
Butters (Valerian x Blush)
Eden (Valerian x Blush)
Ultra. Our first TruePink male!
50 SHADES OF PINK
One of the goals with our pink line was to produce better and more consistent pinks. With Alpha and Peaches coloration and pattern was all over the place. Now with Valerian we were getting much fewer dark or brown geckos. We were still seeing variation in shades ranging from orange to pink to red and we were seeing some lavenders as well. Still the geckos they were making were gorgeous so I had no complaints. Some of our most cherished geckos from our pink line are lavender or leaning orange or red. Of course we would prefer more TruePinks but that's what makes them so special. They are rare AF!
Results have been more consistent with Ultra
To further complicate things all pink line geckos hatch out brown or tan. You won't know if you have a TruePink or not until your pink gecko is an adult. It's a long journey from brown to pink and I've seen some incredible transformations. We're not completely blind along the way. By 5 grams we can typically tell which geckos are going to be the lightest. We can also tell which ones are likely to be lavenders because they'll lack any red coloration.
Deciphering which ones will become pink versus red is a bit trickier. As a general rule, if you want pinks, the lighter the better! There's been exceptions to this rule which does blur things a little but it's still the best indicator overall. The transition from brown to pink is not always pretty, either. Coloration can get a bit muddy in their juvie through sub-adult phase. It's when they reach 35 grams and up that the goods ones truly start to shine! Penelope was orange at 35g and TruePink at 45g!
Penelope fired at 35g vs 45g. One of my favorite transformations.
Although not pink, this lavender male from Valerian x Blush is amazing!
Seeing what I've seen I never underestimate a pink line geckos potential to go TruePink... unless it's brown.
SOME PINK BABIES
Our first Ultra x Mary holdback!
Another Ultra x Mary hatchling.
The pink line lavender harlequins are exceptional as well!
Every now and then we'll come across a post or comment questioning if pink geckos actually exist. I don't blame them. Photographs can lie or a they can simply be red and unfired. You'll often see geckos labeled as pink or even true pink when they are anything but. This lends to a lot of confusion as to what a pink is.
Navigating what we call pink or TruePink has been a challenge as well. Since we can't guarantee final color on juvenile geckos we typically just refer to them as Pink Line. We do have some indicators for final color and so we set pricing accordingly but it's still not a guarantee. If we ever do sell a pink or TruePink gecko it will almost always be an adult.
Where we draw the line between pink and TruePink has also been a challenge. In my opinion a pink gecko should fire down pink. Fired up it might lean a little orange or red however. This is what has been generally accepted over the years for a pink gecko.
When we started producing TruePinks it was a different ballgame. These geckos were clearly different because they actually fired pink. This is why we started using the term TruePink to begin with. But the real ones are so rare that it's extremely unlikely you'll ever stumble upon one for sale, and even if you do the price is sure to be astronomical.
That is why my recommendation for people who want a TruePink is to hatch one yourself. Purchase a breeding pair from lines proven to produce true pinks and play the lottery. If you hatch out a couple years worth of clutches you should get one or two if you're lucky.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Perhaps what I love most about this project is it's long term potential. Here we are a decade in and I feel like we've barely scratched the surface of what's possible. I'm just starting to hatch out Lilly Whites from our pink line. Who knows how long it will be until we have our first TruePink Lilly. And what future morphs will come out that will play well with our pink line? Only time will tell.
It's crazy to me how quickly selective breeding works with these geckos. You really can make your own unique looking geckos in just a few years. The pink geckos we've produced are leaps and bounds beyond what we started with. You don't need a fortune to get started but lineage is hugely important.
Fable, our male Lilly White.
Our first pink line Lilly White eggs!
SO YOU WANT TO BREED PINKS
If you are trying to breed pinks today and asked me for advice I'd say:
Find a pink gecko from pink lines known to produce true pinks.
Put it with a similar pink gecko or find a light colored lavender. If the lavender is too dark it will overpower the delicate pink color more often than not. Pairing it with a lavender will yield some lavenders, but they can be amazing so don't let that deter you!
When your eggs start hatching hold onto everything until at least 5g in size.
Look for the geckos with the lightest coloration. Those are your keepers! Your little gold nuggets! If they are dark at this size they'll most likely go red or brown.
As they grow they'll lighten even more and become less tan/brown and more pink/orange/red.
By 30g they should fire down a light or medium pink. Fired up they can be medium pink, orange or red. Be patient. Developing color takes time!
By 45g they should ideally fire down light pink and fire up medium pink. If they are firing red at this size then you'll probably end up with a red gecko that fires down pink. If they fire orange just wait and give them some more time. Their color can continue to develop until they reach their final adult weight. My pinks typically reach 50-65g and color will continue to develop until they reach their final adult weight.
Fires red but amazing nonetheless!
I want to give a special thanks to Erica at Crown Jewel Reptiles. While she is no longer breeding, the work she put into pinks over decade ago is the reason we are working with them today.
Also a big thank you to all our customers who have supported this project over the years! Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3
Peaches. Photographed by Erica in 2011.
Photo credit: Used with permission by Erica - Crown Jewel Reptiles
Our first TruePink, Blush.