If you drop by a pet store or reptile show, you will see many different leopard gecko morphs. These lizards come in different variations, and you’re sure that no one stops you from choosing the type that most pleases you.
Perhaps you have heard something called ‘enigma leopard gecko?’ Enigma syndrome is pervasive and widely studied in many parts of the world today. It took extensive research to fathom out the root cause of this problem.
Enigma morphs have a distinctive and stunning look that makes them admired by many reptile keepers. Are enigma geckos stressful to own?
This article covers an in-depth discussion of enigma leopard geckos, not forgetting their history and a lot more things you need to know.
- What is Enigma Leopard Geckos?
- Symptoms of Enigma Leopard Geckos
- Top 12 Enigma Leopard Geckos
- How Do You Give Your Enigma Leopard Gecko the Best Life?
- Should Enigma Leopard Geckos Be Created?
- Should An Enigma Leopard Gecko Be Raised?
- How Do You Prevent Enigma in Leopard Geckos?
- Wrapping Up
What is Enigma Leopard Geckos?
The word enigma simply means something mysterious or bewildering. If you own an enigma gecko and other different morphs, you may notice unusual behaviors in the enigmas that are completely absent in the latter.
Enigma is a biological condition that pops up in leopard geckos due to genetic mutation. Leopard geckos can be homozygous or heterozygous for the enigma trait.
The trait brightens the skin color and makes the eyes more solid red or black in some geckos. It also causes irregular spotting on the skin of the Leo and a whitetail.
It’s a characteristic that makes leopard geckos appealing and very good-looking, especially the adults. Enigma in the Leos is a dominant morph, meaning that it will powerfully overrule any other allele.
The baby enigmas hatch out with black blotches on the skin rather than the regular band, and the tails are almost entirely white.
History of Enigma Leopard Geckos
Breeding is imperative and essential to multiply and sustain the species of leopard geckos. A single or group of genes will control a particular phenotype (observable characteristics of an individual).
The enigma morphs are considered a random genetic mutation. Typically, the mutation alters the DNA sequence, leading to changes in the protein being made. The result can be the formation of fewer, more, or new proteins.
Some mutations will suppress a protein from being made or having it in a different location in the body. The mutation is the center core for the various colors and pattern morphs in leopard geckos.
Enigma morph was discovered by Mark Bell in 2006 when in the process of breeding his geckos. The morph randomly hatched out from one of Mark’s leopard gecko groups and eventually proved a dominant trait.
Today, several different bloodlines of enigma morph exist, including, Dreamsickle, Blackhole, Super stealth, SuperNova, and BEE.
Causes Enigma Syndrome
Although Enigma contributes to a unique appearance in leopard gecko, this trait has its cons. It tends to carry a behavioral gene that causes some behavioral disorders in the geckos, called enigma syndrome.
It is a neurological disorder associated with loss of balance and cognition, which is expressed in most enigmas.
The mutation damages the brain cells that coordinate movement and cognition, and it’s mostly a late-onset neurological disorder.
Sadly, breeders are often unable to distinguish which of their geckos are affected by the disease. They may realize when it’s too late that some bred geckos have this mutation. Every leopard gecko is different from another.
The same is true with the enigmas. The severity of enigma syndrome varies across the Leos with this disorder.
Common Characteristics of Enigmas Leopard Geckos
Since the gene responsible for enigma morph is dominant, heterozygous or homozygous individuals for the trait will appear identical.
Although most enigmas leopard geckos are variable, the babies frequently hatch out with blotches instead of bands that we see in common hatchlings. Plus, they usually have a whitetail.
As the enigmas grow, the blotches develop into speckles, giving adult enigmas a unique and stunning look. A non-symmetrical blotch pattern is evident on their back. They have a stunning variety of colors, including bright yellow, red, orange, and white.
Moreover, enigma leopard geckos may behave differently when catching prey. Some will quickly cognize a prey, but most of them are slow at catching the insects offered.
Hereditary of Enigma Leopard Geckos?
If a gecko has Enigma, it means that one of its parents was affected. We have seen that mutation of a gene is responsible for Enigma in leopard geckos. Inside the genes, we have alleles.
Enigmas are either homozygous or heterozygous. Homozygous have two dominant alleles (AA) for Enigma, while heterozygous have one dominant and one recessive allele (Aa). An offspring inherits one allele from the mother and another from the father.
Therefore, if the mother, father, or both have an enigma syndrome-causing allele, some offspring will inherit it.
Note that leopard geckos that have both recessive alleles do not suffer from enigma syndrome.
However, the geckos with at least one dominant syndrome-causing allele will be affected by the disorder and display syndromes depending on the environment. Enigma syndrome is a result of autosomal mutation.
More often, the homozygous dominant allele causes a miscarriage of a Leo or death before hatchling. Enigma syndrome is passed with affected genes from the parent(s) to the offspring.
Symptoms of Enigma Leopard Geckos
Typically, enigma syndrome is a disorder of the brain and negatively affects the brain cell. How severe the effects or symptoms of enigma syndrome appear to differ from one gecko to another.
Moreover, for an enigma leopard gecko to manifest, the symptoms of ES depend on its genotype and environment.
Leopard geckos that have developed enigma syndromes will express strange behaviors like;
· walking in circles
· head tilting
· lying in strange places
· missing prey
· death rolling.
The worse side of this disorder is that your gecko may be affected but only shows the symptoms when it’s too late.
Are Enigmas Harmful to Leopard Geckos?
The sight of a leopard gecko circling in the habitat is interesting to watch, and many keepers find it funny. However, wait and see the gecko flipping over; the smile will suddenly turn to worries.
It’s never a pretty thing seeing your Leo rolling over onto its back. Yes, enigma can be harmful to leopard geckos with enigma syndrome, especially when it is severe.
For instance, Death rolling can make your gecko hard to breathe and may kill it in the end. Your gecko flipping over isn’t something to encourage
Frequently keep an eye on your leopard gecko and ensure it’s in the correct position. The most threatening symptom of Enigma is death rolling since it can kill a leopard gecko.
Also, constant circling may cause the lizard to injure itself by constantly hitting objects inside the terrarium.
Enigma can also cause the death of hatchlings, especially with all dominant alleles. Enigmas with the severe symptoms of this disease sometimes don’t eat, and it can kill them.
How Long Do Enigma Leopard Geckos Live?
One thing for sure is that Enigma’s leopard gecko life expectancy may depend on whether the lizard has enigma syndrome or not and if it’s severe or mild.
The majority of the enigmas are perfectly normal; they eat and shed normal and have no problems threatening their lives.
This morph hasn’t been there for a long time; so far, most of them record a lifespan of between 6-7 years.
Good husbandry and proper diet may help increase the lifespan of these morphs, perhaps even up to 10-15 years or more.
Top 12 Enigma Leopard Geckos
Even today, breeders are on their toes, putting all efforts into developing new and extraordinary morphs.
The process of selective breeding in enigma leopard geckos is proliferating, as breeders intend to scale down or prevent the spread of enigma syndrome behaviors.
We have a couple of enigma crosses that exist today and display several different characteristics. The following morphs are famous combinations of enigma leopard geckos.
Tangerine morphs have intense orange coloration that is eye-catching. Any Leo showing any shade of orange can be considered a tangerine.
Tangerine enigmas have an incredibly beautiful, white, and spotted tail, plus a very distinctive color on the body that makes them striking.
Tangerines are polygenic traits, while enigmas are considered to be dominant traits. A cross of tangerines with the intensifying qualities of enigmas produces immensely and exceptionally colored offspring.
The result is different-looking tangerines. The more intense coloration of tangerine enigmas fetches a high price in the market.
Blizzard geckos do not have spots, banding, and patterns, and they typically occur in white or gray color.
Blizzard is a recessive trait. The combination of Tremper albino and blazing blizzard gives Tremper albino blazing blizzard, and the two traits in play are recessive.
Tremper albino blazing blizzard enigma is a combination morph of Tremper albino blazing blizzard and enigma leopard geckos. The dominant trait is Enigma.
Tremper albino blazing blizzard enigma.
- Murphy Patternless
Pat Murphy developed Murphy Patternless in 1991. It is a recessive trait. The combination morphs of Murphy Patternless and Enigma is called Murphy Patternless enigma.
The dominant trait here is Enigma, while Murphy patternless is recessive. On the other hand, Murphy’s patternless albino enigma is a combination of Murphy patternless albino morph and Enigma.
Both the Murphy patternless and albino are recessive, while the dominating morph is Enigma.
BEE is a combination morph of an enigma (dominant trait) and eclipse (recessive trait) morphs.
BEE or black-eyed-enigmas are easy to spot. Despite having black eyes, their dorsal body is light yellow, and the tail is white. The majority of BEEs have irregular dark-colored spots on the back, but some lack the markings.
Albino gecko morphs are amelanistic (lacking the black pigment), and their color ranges from white, yellow, and tan.
Albinism is considered a recessive and genetic inheritable mutation. Bell, Tremper, and rainwater are the three genes of albinism.
A combination of Bell albino and Enigma produces Bell albino enigma. The recessive trait is bell albino, while Enigma is dominant. Bell albino enigmas have red eyes. These were the first Albino enigmas to be developed.
Tremper leopard geckos’ bodies are usually light yellow, pink, or orange. Their most distinctive features are the light orange and brown markings and silver eyes. The patterns of these lizards can range from bands to stripes or spots.
There are several combinations of Tremper lizards and other leopard gecko morphs that exist today, including Tremper albino enigma.
It is a morph from the combination of Tremper (recessive trait), albino (recessive), and enigma (dominant). Temper albinos have orange eyes.
Tremper albino hypo enigma is also another morph of an albino. It is a combination of Tremper (recessive), albino (recessive), Hypo (dominant), and Enigma (dominant) leopard geckos
Rainwater albino enigma was produced in 2008 by Alberto Cadolini and is the world’s first morph of this kind to be developed. Rainwater albino is recessive, and Enigma serves as the dominant trait.
- Mack Snow Enigma
Mack snow is in the line of the snow morphs, and it’s an incomplete dominant trait. Mack snow enigma is a combination morph of Mack snow and Enigma, where Mack snow is co-dominant and Enigma dominant.
Typically, the body of Mack snow enigmas is white with blotchy black spots. Mack snow enigma has five popular morph lines: Blackhole, Super snow enigma, Super snow albino enigma, Dreamsickle, and Supernova enigma morphs.
Black Hole (Mack Snow Eclipse Enigma)
Mack snow eclipse enigma is a creation of Mack snow eclipse and Enigma. This morph is a combination of one recessive trait (Eclipse), one incomplete dominant trait (Mack snow), and one dominant trait (Enigma).
Blackhole morph has solid black eyes, and the Enigma causes variation in the body pattern of these lizards.
Super Snow Enigma
As the name implies, the super snow enigma is created from two different morphs; the incomplete dominant Super snow morph and the dominant Enigma morph.
These morphs usually have white bodies with black speckles. Plus, they have solid black eyes like black holes. Super snow enigmas were produced in 2007.
Super Snow Albino Enigma
Super snow albino morph was developed from three different genetic traits, including the incomplete dominant super snow, recessive albino, and the dominant enigma trait.
In appearance, this morph has a nearly light pink to the white body and has random brown to pink speckling. Their eyes are solid red.
Dreamsickle (Mack Snow RAPTOR Enigma)
Dreamsickle is a morph from Mack snow (incomplete dominant), RAPTOR and Eclipse morphs (recessives), and Enigma morph (dominant).
SuperNova (Super Snow RAPTOR Enigma)
SuperNova is a combination of four different genetic traits, Enigma, Eclipse, Super snow, and RAPTOR traits.
Super snow is an incomplete dominant morph, RAPTOR and Eclipse are recessive, and Enigma dominant. In appearance, the Supernova morph body is nearly all white, and the majority have white noses and feet.
As the name describes it, giant geckos are bred to be larger. They are typically over 10 inches long, much larger than a standard leopard gecko.
Giant enigma leopard geckos are a combination of the incomplete dominant giant trait and dominant enigma morph.
Hypo or hypomelanistic have little to no black pigmentation and very few spots on the body, usually less than 10. The tail and head may have numerous spots. Hypo means less, meaning that hypomelanistic have less melanin.
Hypo Mack snow enigma is a creation from Hypo (dominant) morph, Mack snow (incomplete dominant), and Enigma (dominant) morph.
Baldy leopard geckos are super hypos with no traces of spots on the head. Some retain a few spots on the body and tail or the tail alone.
Baldy leopard geckos’ color is highly visible, ranging from bright yellow to tangerine. The color of the tail and body is variant.
Eclipse is a recessive trait of the eyes, primarily bringing solid black or clear eyes. Sometimes the eyes appear split, part black and part clear.
It causes several other characteristics, such as white markings on the nose, feet, and tail.
Eclipse also may cause speckles, patternless stripes, and washed-out colors. The eclipse gene has been variably used in the combinations of morphs such as BEE, Nova, black hole, etc.
As the name suggests, the stripe is a trait causing stripes running down the length of the bodies of leopard geckos. A combination of the stripe with other morphs may result in geckos with one or more stripes.
- Carrot Tail
The carrot tail is simply a feature of geckos that appears in their tail. It’s a line breed trait that produces leopard geckos with more carroting than previous generations. At least 15% of a carrot lizard’s tail from the base is covered in orange.
The carrot tail trait has been showing up in a couple of morphs, including Hypos, Tangerines, RAPTORs, Patternless, Albinos, and some Blizzards.
How Do You Give Your Enigma Leopard Gecko the Best Life?
If you have an enigma leopard gecko, you only have to give them a simple and comfortable life. These lizards will live peacefully like typical leopard geckos when living in stress-free areas and free from injuries.
Enigma syndrome isn’t curable, and that’s why enigmas need maximum care to avoid any chance of them getting this syndrome. Provide them with a simple terrarium setup, and always ensure the lighting, humidity, and heating are correct.
The best substrate for these geckos is a paper towel, and ensure to keep the room clean always. Keep the entrances to the hiding boxes low to the ground so the lizard will not struggle to enter.
It is imperative to keep the enigmas terrarium free from climbing items like branches or logs. They can fall when trying to climb and hurt themselves. Regularly check on your lizard and also visit the vet occasionally.
Should Enigma Leopard Geckos Be Created?
Enigma Leopard geckos shouldn’t be created because of the many risks involved in case these lizards get enigma syndrome. Although enigma syndrome can affect even the typical Leos, enigma leopard geckos are more vulnerable to the disease.
They are carriers of the gene causing enigma syndrome (ES), and most of them display its symptoms later in life.
Likewise, you need to be pretty careful about everything with these reptile pets for them to live well without any signs of ES.
Enigmas are perfect trait enhancers when combined with other morphs; however, offspring may inherit undesirable genes of enigma syndromes. It’s not always 100% guaranteed that the morphs produced are free from this gene.
With all this uncertainty, further breeding of the enigmas may affect the normal development of a typical leopard gecko and create more problems in the future.
Should An Enigma Leopard Gecko Be Raised?
I wouldn’t encourage breeding enigma leopard geckos, but I have no problem with them being raised. However, choosing to raise an enigma or not will depend on where you buy them.
For instance, some breeders think only of business when it comes to producing enigmas. They don’t mind if the gecko has health issues or not; their goal is to get money and, therefore, sell them at any status.
Buying an enigma from such breeders or pet stores isn’t different from not having one. But if you get your lizard from a responsible and reputable breeder, then go ahead and raise it. Only be sure to exercise good husbandry and offer a proper diet always.
Enigma leopard geckos that show enigma syndrome at an early age shouldn’t be raised because the suffering will be unbearable.
How Do You Prevent Enigma in Leopard Geckos?
Breeders are better positioned to prevent Enigma in leopard geckos more than the people keeping them as pets. They should be careful about breeding and do their best to breed only unaffected individuals.
ES is a genetic problem and requires DNA sequencing to determine the arrangement of individual genes. Otherwise, it will be difficult to tell between affected and unaffected individuals.
Breeding of related geckos should be discouraged since they can be carriers of the undesirable gene and pass unwanted genetic problems and mutations to offspring. Reptile keepers should buy their geckos from a respected breeder with a good reputation.
The breeder should give you the history of the gecko you are buying and any problems discovered in the parents or lineage. Buy a healthy gecko, give utmost care and avoid environmental stressors, e.g., cage mates, etc.
ES is a neurological disorder that primarily affects the brain cells and eventually causes imbalance and loss of cognition.
Enigma geckos that have a gene causing ES are affected by this disease, and it’s mostly manifested in later stages of life.
A gecko with enigma syndrome shows symptoms such as stargazing, death rolling, circling, missing prey, head tilting, and seizures. ES cannot be cured, but you cannot prevent it by reducing environmental stressors and careful outbreeding.
Moreover, enigma syndrome mostly affects enigma leopard geckos, but it can also affect other gecko morphs. The only problem with Enigma is that they’re more prone to ES.