Can a Gecko Change Colors? {Our Top 7 Color Changers Explained}

My gecko wants to be a chameleon. Can a gecko change colors like a chameleon?  Why do they need to change colors if they are safe under our care?

Do you want some examples and explanations of which geckos change color? Is it ok if your gecko doesn’t? Are all color changes healthy?

In this article, we will try to enlighten and brighten the room full of gecko lovers and enthusiasts on why, if and can a gecko change colors.

Can a Gecko Change Colors?

Color changes depend on the species of gecko. Matching their surroundings through camouflage in the way a chameleon does is a trait that many geckos can emulate, but plenty cannot.

Since they are mostly active at night, the need to blend in with color changes isn’t as prevalent. During the day, they must look for a hiding space instead of hiding in plain sight with a color change.

Color pigments contract and expand on a gecko to allow them to evade predators or catch unsuspecting prey.

How Does a Gecko Change Color?

A gecko is not using their eyes to notice any colors around them in order to blend in. While they may partly depend on the eyes, the sense of vision is not the determiner to why geckos change color.

There are light receptors located under their torsos and in their eyes. The light receptors underneath them can identify the color of the surface below and seek to imitate it.

Then, the pigments in their skin contract or expand to fulfill this gradual or quick and efficient shift to subtly blend in with dominant color around them.

Should you leave them alone while this happens? I’ll let you know what I found out here.

Why Does My Gecko Change Color?

You are probably the proud caregiver of a species of gecko that has the capability to change color. Otherwise, the color change can be a sign of concern such as:

  • Old age
  • Illness
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Excessive shedding

In active circumstances in the wild, a gecko who can change color is able to detect the color patterns around them with light receptors underneath their body.

Camouflage is a common reason for your gecko to change color, but these reasons above are unfortunate side effects of natural aging or illnesses.

You would enjoy bright, vibrant color changes, but you may notice a dulling of appearance instead.

If your gecko is turning white or pale, this article will explain it.

Can My Gecko Change Color?

Since there are over 1600 species of geckos, it is difficult to determine one from the other in many cases. Your gecko may change color at some point in their later stages of life or after they shed their skin.

Colors may fade more, then they turn into eye popping new shades and hues. You may notice your gecko’s color looking more pale or gray after stressful occurrences in:

  • health
  • poor diet
  • lack of appetite
  • shedding phase
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Do Leopard Geckos Change Color As They Get Older

Leopard geckos do not typically change color as they get older. Their coloration and patterns are determined by their genetics and remain relatively stable throughout their lives.

It is worth noting that the intensity of their colors and patterns can sometimes appear to change slightly due to shedding and overall health.

Leopard geckos undergo a shedding process to replace their old skin, and during this time, their colors may appear dull or faded. After shedding, their vibrant colors and patterns should return.

Factors such as lighting, temperature, and stress levels can influence a gecko’s coloration. Providing appropriate lighting and maintaining optimal temperatures in their enclosure can help to showcase their natural colors.

While leopard geckos do not change color drastically as they age, it’s important to note that some geckos may undergo slight color shifts due to various factors.

Certain morphs or genetic variations can display different color patterns or intensities, and some individuals may show minor changes in coloration over time. However, these changes are typically not as dramatic as the color changes seen in species like chameleons.

Which Geckos Change Color?

It’s best to ask a breeder, pet shop representative, vet or other professionals in the field where geckos are studied, adopted, sold and cared for.

There are too many species of geckos to continue learning more about and a definitive list of which ones change color compared to those that don’t hasn’t been fully formed yet.

Here are of our top 7 geckos that change color:

1. Crested Gecko

This gecko is classified as Correlophus ciliatus who belong in a category of vulnerable animals with a threat of being endangered.

During the lifespan of a crested gecko, they will undergo color shifts in the following circumstances:

  • Stress
  • Defense
  • Fear
  • High temperatures
  • During sleep

Some color changes will be subtle while others (during moments of defense) could be more pronounced.

2. Moorish Gecko

This gecko is also referred to as the Tarentola mauritanica and they definitely change color as a tool for camouflage or blending in with their surroundings.

Their light receptors under their body helps to determine which colors are dominant around them and they shift according to that.

The Moorish gecko has many similarities to common wall geckos and can sometimes be categorized under the same name.

3. Gargoyle Gecko

The Gargoyle gecko or the Rhacodactylus auriculatus changes color for many reasons including:

  • Time of day (darker at night)
  • During mating season (brighter and more vibrant or vivid)
  • Higher or lower temperatures

Color changes during warmer weather would cause a Gargoyle gecko to turn darker in most cases.

4. Giant Day Gecko

The gecko known scientifically as Phelsuma grandis cannot be fully categorized as a color changeling gecko.

Some can occur during times of defense or intense stress, but others in comfortable care may not need to at all. With birds of prey swarming around a Giant Day Gecko, they can blend in with branches and leaves.

5. Tokay Gecko

The Gekko gecko or Tokay gecko will rely on color changes when stressed or if the light intensity shifts from dark to bright or vice versa.

Color shifts can be highly pronounced from a beautiful teal, lighter blue shades, all the way to black.

6. Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Also known as Uroplatus phantasticus, this gecko is capable of turning colors from a dull grayish brown to brighter greens and yellows.

The color change entirely depends on their surroundings and how to best adapt to them under weather conditions, stress, defense and mating seasons.

7. Northern Leaf-Tailed Gecko

The Saltuarius cornutus or Northern Leaf-tailed gecko is native to Australia. Can also be seen as a patriotic gecko who shifts into the native colors of this land from green to yellow.

The gecko is highly revered, but allowed to exist from centuries due to their cunning and stealth-like ability to blend into hard and arid surroundings.

Can All Geckos Change Color?

There are over 1,600 different species of geckos. Most of these will change color at some point in their lives due to age, where their colors fade or shedding where they may turn grayish for a few days.

Not all gecko species can change color on command. Asking a gecko to change color for no reason while in comfortable captive care under your management is difficult to do.

These geckos may have no need to do this or be categorized inside the larger portion of gecko species who cannot change color. Therefore, not all geckos change color and their stealth like ability to hide gives them a different advantage to survive for centuries.

How Fast Can A Gecko Change Color?

Geckos take their time when a color change isn’t an urgency. The findings of gecko color change speed tests are not yet determined or clear to researchers. It is said that the slower end of color shift from a light blue to black could take a gecko as long as an hour in comfort.

Within there is a sudden need to change color due to a defense mechanism, stress or drop/raise in temperature, a gecko can change color much faster.

Rapid color changes are not what we are looking for with our geckos in captivity. This means they are in need out of stress or perceived necessity.

Even if we think we have provided a comfortable space for them, changing colors rapidly is not a sign of a peaceful gecko. Some skittish geckos will change colors faster than more tranquil geckos who are peaceful.

What if your gecko’s poop changes color? Might be gross or even worse. See here for a full explanation.

Permanent Color Changes In Geckos

As a gecko grows older with age, they experience permanent color changes that are irreversible. The change usually takes them from a vibrant or vivid color to a duller one.

Excessive shedding, changes in temperature, recovering from bouts of sickness are all examples why an older gecko will develop a lighter color with time.

Hatchings and juvenile geckos usually appear more vibrant and differ from their elders. Look out for blackened toes or darker tails that could change color out of something called necrosis.

With necrosis, the tissue in this area is dying and leaves you with no choice but to seek medical help from a vet. Black spots may also indicate a bacterial infection and requires immediate treatment.

Do Geckos Camouflage Themselves?

What is the difference between the color changes between geckos? How is the color change from a chameleon different from a gecko? These questions depend on the species of gecko compared to chameleons of other geckos.

  • Geckos change color to blend for catching prey.
  • Chameleons change color mostly to camouflage themselves.
  • Geckos also flatten their jaws to obscure their outline against surfaces.
  • Chameleons have more pronounced color changes and patterns.
  • House geckos turn yellow, gray and green to evade predators.
  • Crested gecko pale pink to deep brown to blend in.
  • Leopard geckos change color with age and shedding cycles.
  • Tokay geckos change color based on mood changes from dark blue to orange for example.

Final Thought

We hope that no matter if your gecko can change color or has shifted to a duller color with age, you continue to provide them with no reason to feel the stress or need to to perform actions for our entertainment.

There survival and longevity under our care depends on their comfort without the need to change color out of threat of perceived predators or to catch prey.


Thank you for visiting for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.


My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.