Can Crested Geckos Change Color and Why Do They Do It?


Crested geckos are beautiful lizards and are known for their patterns and colors, also called morphs. Some reptiles, like chameleons, have the ability to change their color and blend in with their environment. So, do crested geckos share the same color-changing ability? Can crested geckos change color?

Crested geckos can change their color. A color change can be caused just by growing older. Hatchlings and juveniles usually have a different or other shade of color than when they’re adults. Another color-changing process is called “firing up”. This process depends on various factors.

Crested geckos are limited in their ability to change color and can’t really do this on their own will. They will change their color because when they grow up or when they’re exposed to certain environmental triggers. There’s also another way the color of your gecko can change temporarily, the shed cycle.

In this article, you’ll learn why a crested gecko changes its color and what environmental conditions can trigger a color change. You’ll also get some tips and tricks to trigger the most beautiful color of your crested gecko.

Why Do Crested Geckos Change Color?

There are three ways your crested gecko can change its color:

  • ontogenetic (age-related) color change 
  • environmental color change (firing up) 
  • color change due to shedding 

Age-related color change

Crested geckos are born with a bright orange or red color and it’s impossible to determine the adult color the first few months. Your hatchling and juvenile crestie will not change their color overnight but it will take a process of several months until the final and definitive color is visible.

Around the first anniversary of your crested gecko, the adult color will have set. This can be a very different color than the color it had as a hatchling. Just as color, patterns are also age-related. A hatchling will have little to no marks and spots but will get the markings (stripes and spots) as it grows older.

Environmental color change

Even adult crested geckos can still change their color in a process that’s called “firing up”. The firing up and down of a crested gecko depends on numerous different factors. You can influence some environmental conditions that can cause firing up.

The most known reasons for a crested gecko to firing up are:

  • stress, fear, aggression: all these moods can cause a crested gecko to fire up. Stress and fear reactions can be caused by a new environment, shipping, handling, bad living conditions, overpopulation, or even breeding.
  • high humidity: higher humidities around 70 percent can cause your crestie to fire up. These humidity levels occur usually at night or in the morning.
  • high temperature: a temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit can cause your crested gecko to fire up. Just don’t expose them to high temperatures (above 85 degrees Fahrenheit) for a long time as this can cause overheating.
  • lighting (or a lack of light): crested geckos will often fire up at night time when there is little light. It’s possible that this is a way to hide from predators by getting darker colors.
  • activity: a sleeping crested gecko will usually have a duller (fired down) color. When your crestie becomes active at night, they’ll usually fire up and can get darker colors.

Some of these reasons are interlinked. High humidity often occurs at night when there’s little light and when your crestie is active and possibly exposed to stress or fear. It’s not always entirely possible to attribute a color change to one specific environmental trigger.

Color change due to shedding

Crested geckos, like other reptiles, shed their old skin and replace it with new skin. A few days before the shedding starts you’ll notice that your crestie becomes greyer or even turn pale. This is absolutely normal and no reason to become concerned. Your crestie will shed its skin and a few days later has its normal color back.

How to Get a Crested Gecko to Fire Up

If you want to know what are the colors of your crested gecko when it’s fired up you can try to create the perfect conditions for it to do so. You don’t have to scare your crestie or put it into a stressful situation!

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All you have to do is create good environmental conditions. You can do so by misting the enclosure and your crestie, getting a temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and darkening the enclosure for 15 minutes. If you’re interested in taking beautiful photos of your crestie, this is the time to do so.

Dangerous Color Changes

Not all color changes are normal. A crested gecko can turn pale when it’s fired down or when it’s shedding and this is without any danger. When fired up a crested gecko can become darker and even show shades of dark.

It’s dangerous when only the tail or the toes become black, which is a sign of necrosis. In such a case, immediately go to your vet to seek treatment. It’s also possible that you notice black spots on the body of your crestie that weren’t there before. If you notice these black spots, it’s possible that your crested gecko has a fungal or bacterial infection, which also should be treated by a vet.

Related Questions

Does every crested gecko fire up?

Not all crested geckos will fire up or do so in the same way. Some might never fire up. This is normal and you don’t need to worry. When your crested gecko doesn’t have a lot of difference between its fired up and fired down coloration you might not even notice the color change.

Why do crested geckos fire up?

Crested geckos fire up for a number of reasons. The process depends on their environment and their mood. Crested geckos will usually be fired up when they are active and awake. Firing up is also associated with higher humidity, higher temperature, and a lack of lighting.

Why do crested geckos fire down?

Crested geckos fire down when they are asleep and under certain environmental conditions (low humidity, exposure to light, lower temperatures). The firing down can be a way for a crested gecko to camouflage itself during the day. For you, it will usually be a way to tell that it’s asleep.

Why is my crested gecko turning grey?

Crested geckos usually look grey or even pale when they are in a shedding process. After a few days the color will come back and it might even be a brighter color than before. So, a grey color isn’t anything to be worried about.

Are moonglow (white) crested geckos real?

Moonglow or white-colored crested geckos are sometimes being sold at high prices because of their unique color. There’s however a lot of discussions whether or not a true moonglow exists. A lot of moonglow crested geckos are fired down and have other colors when they fire up.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to learn more about crested geckos as pets, please read the following articles.

If you’re interested in getting crested geckos as pets you should also definitely read our article about baby and juvenile crested gecko care or (adult) crested gecko care.


Kevin N.

Kevin is the owner of My Crested Gecko. He wrote this blog for many years and has been a geckos enthusiast his entire life, but only became an official "geckophile" five years ago when he acquired one as a pet! Kevin knows how to care for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and degus in addition to crested geckos which are more than happy with him every day!

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