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. There weren't many pinks around at the time and they weren’t really desired because a lot of people saw pinks as lesser reds.
Regardless, we thought these geckos were beautiful and managed to purchase a pink female from a breeder who had taken a special interest in them. Our new gecko was certainly pink when fired down. She fired up a bit orange, but that was typical for pinks at the time.
Now that we had our pink female it was time to find a male. Trying to find a pink male nowadays is hard but back then it proved impossible! Plus, we had just started breeding so we ended up pairing her with what we had available. We paired our pink female with a dark harlequin male with white pattern and spots. A dark gecko with a pink? Yeah we know.
Peaches, our first pink and Alpha.
HATCHING SOME EGGS
We hatched out several dozen eggs from this pairing. Many of them would be pink fired down but would fire up red or brown. Still, many of the offspring from this pairing were really cool. But the results weren't consistent, and we weren't making what we considered to be pinks.
Alpha x Peaches offspring from left to right: Badass, Fenrir, Hercules.
We had all but given up, but then… we got Blush. 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 holdback.
Eggs continued to hatch from Alpha and Peaches, still looking mostly red or brown. It was around the time Blush hit 35 grams that we realized we had something truly special. This gecko fired PINK!
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!
THE LAST ALPHA
Alpha and Peaches had made us just one TruePink gecko so we decided to end the pairing and look for another male.
It was Alpha and Peaches' last season together and we got one more hatchling that looked interesting. It was plain but with some small white dots along it's side. It's coloration was the lightest we'd seen yet!
It was a female and when she reached breeding weight she started laying eggs, even though she had never been paired. Not only did she lay eggs but they had embryos! It was at this point that we named her Mary, our second TruePink! I really wanted some Mary clones to hatch but the eggs didn't make it. Probably for the best.
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.
Mary was our last holdback out of Alpha x Peaches.
A NEW DIRECTION
With Alpha on the chopping block we needed a new male for our pink line. How do we make more geckos like Blush we wondered? Mary was still fairly small at the time so our focus was getting a male for Peaches and Blush.
Several years had passed and the variety and quality of geckos had improved. Finding a pink male was still impossible so we had to get creative. We knew we wanted another harlequin with white or light cream. We also wanted a lighter base color that would compliment our pinks.
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! We paired Valerian with both Peaches and Blush and the results were... well, see for yourself! Penelope and Butters were some of the first geckos to come from Valerian.
Valerian unfried vs fired. An excellent match for a pink!
Penelope (Valerian x Peaches)
Butters (Valerian x Blush)
THAT'S A LOT OF LADIES!
It took until we had Valerian for us to start getting some decent pink males. For whatever reason they've always been darker in coloration compared to the females. They've also disproportionately leaned lavender.
Our best pink male is most certainly Ultra. He was our first TruePink male and last year we had him paired with Mary. Nearly every egg that hatched from this pairing looked like a holdback!
Ultra. Our best pink male to date!
Our first Ultra x Mary holdback!
Another Ultra x Mary hatchling.
The harlequins are exceptional as well!
Demand for our pinks was reaching a fever pitch. Blush had single handedly started a movement within the crested gecko community. Our pink line was producing many of the best pinks seen to date.
Not every gecko we hatched from pink lines was turning out pink. We were seeing quite a few lavenders (thanks Valerian) and even some reds as well. We plan to cross out a lavender line from our pinks in the future but I digress.
Although not pink, this lavender male from Valerian x Blush is amazing!
50 SHADES OF PINK
Our goal with our pink line is to produce consistent pinks and with Ultra and Mary I think that has become a reality. We still see quite a few lavenders out of our Valerian x Pinks line and that's perfectly fine with me.
All pink line geckos hatch out brown, or tan at best. It's a long journey from brown to pink, but 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 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 pre-adult phase. It's when they reach 35 grams and up that they truly start to shine!
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
We will continue to reinforce ideal coloration in our pink line generation upon generation. We've also been trying to make pink Lilly Whites but our plans got delayed when our male Lilly didn't produce. Another male Lilly reached breeding weight this year and I'm happy to say we now have pink Lilly White eggs incubating out of Blush! Next year we have a lot of our best pink females planned to be paired with Lilly Whites. It is long overdue!
Fable, our male Lilly White.
Our first pink line Lilly White eggs!
A HANDFUL OUT OF HUNDREDS
The secret recipe for us ended up being hatching hundreds of geckos from our pink x lavender pairings, resulting in a handful of TruePinks. Our 3rd and 4th generation pinks are leaps and bounds beyond where we started. 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 SECRET RECIPE
If you are trying to breed pinks today and asked me what the secret recipe is I would say:
Find a pink gecko from pink lines known to produce geckos that fire pink.
Put it with a similar pink 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 will continue to develop until they reach their final adult weight. My pinks typically reach 50-65g.
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.