As I`m beginning to break up breeding groups for the off season, and the eggs are almost all hatched, I`ve been thinking about this, my first year seriously working with leopard geckos. Since I "left" the hobby back in 2004, an amazing amount of genetic discovery has taken place, with more morphs available, especially combo morphs, than I ever imagined back then. That said, it seems that there are schools of thought in the industry these days. Sell bigger, brighter and for more, without seemingly worrying about what`s under the hood, and on the other side, the meticulous breeders who are really concerned about weeding out the unknown and working towards pure leopard gecko morphs.

This past year I bought several big males, two super giants, one that was supposed to be but turned out not to be, and all theoretically not het for Tremper albino. The breeder I bought the false super giant from gave me a 100% guarantee that he was not het, but I test bred him to three of my Tremper albino females anyway. The second hatchling was a bright, shiny albino. As was the fifth, and a couple more later on just for good measure. One of the super giants, my beloved Bold Mack Snow, Vader, was sold to me as 25% het albino gecko. With luck on my side, 21 out of 21 eggs hatched from three different females, two albinos and a RAPTOR, with not an albino in the bunch! However, an unexpected surprise occurred, as several geckos popped out with nice clean reverse stripes and the leopard gecko shedding wasn't bothering him. Closer inspection confirmed the suspicionů yep, het for Eclipse! That was not what I was after, but oh well, better than het for albino. I still have four more to prove, including my biggest SG male (so far 6 for 6 without an albino), and Elvis, my Giant Bold Stripe.

I added two Mack Snow Diablo Blancos to my collection this year, and both have produced babies with no eye pigment, even though they both have solid eyes; the father is Super Giant RAPTOR het Blizzard, so all babies should have solid eyes (or some eye pigment).  I believe from talking with other breeders that the Blizzard gene is at work here, making the eyes solid but not because of the Eclipse gene.  To top off the summer of surprises, a Blood Hypo threw some lovely albino babies after being bred to a sunglow. Although not completely a bad thing, still not what I was looking for, and I certainly wasn`t told that gecko was het for anything, because the dealer wouldn`t have known.

To sum things up, test breeding seems to be much more important than I had ever considered, as there is clearly an element of the unknown going on out there, even with, or maybe especially with, some of the bigger breeders.  I won`t be taking short cuts, and I won`t be making assumptions going forward.  I believe the integrity of the hobby is more important than trying to make a name out there.  The geckos can only speak for themselves with their appearance; it is my job to check under the hood.