The History of the Super Lemon Frost

By Steve Sykes

September 8, 2017


During the spring of 2016, The Gourmet Rodent (TGR) hatched a gecko from LF x LF that looked unique, and they thought it might be the Super Lemon Frost.  They sent a photo to me showing a gecko with a dark head, white neck band, and mottled body color of yellow, gray, and white.  The tail had white and light gray banding. It looked SUPER cool and totally different from any other gecko morph – truly a unique looking gecko!  TGR did not want to publicize it yet, as they wanted to see how it thrives and grows, and also compare it to other Super LF when they hatch.  Periodically through 2016, I checked in with TGR to see how they were doing with the production of Supers, and was told that a few had hatched, but they had short noses and “weren’t perfect”.  Since the regular (heterozygous) LF was super special on its own, the existence of the Super LF took a back seat to the excitement over what could be created with just the heterozygous Lemon Frost.  In addition, the information about the presence of the Super LF was solely TGR’s to disclose at their discretion, and I was not at liberty to reveal it.  The only information I was able to say was: “As of October 2016, no information has been released regarding the existence of a "Super" form of Lemon Frost (from breeding Lemon Frost x Lemon Frost). Since we did not breed Lemon Frost x Lemon Frost, we are not able to provide any information on this.” (as announced on my webpage in October 2016).  My hope was to work on and perfect the Super LF when I had the chance to breed LF x LF in 2017.  I knew that the TGR stock was closely related due to it all originating from one female. So, the short nose issue that was described could be due to inbreeding (TGR recently shared with me that they have stopped breeding for Super LF until they can diversify their LF bloodlines with outcrossing).  Since I only had one male breeding in 2016, I did not have the ability to breed LF x LF.  However, I was hopeful I could improve on the morph in 2017 using the outcrossed LF that I hatched in 2016.

In 2017, I bred LF x LF, and the first couple super LF to hatch did have short noses, squat heads, larger than normal eyes, and yellow banding areas with slightly raised and thickened skin.  Most of them ate and grew well, but one had a shedding problem and eye issue.  With these early results, I was disheartened that the Super LF would not be a viable morph.  As a few more Super LF hatched, we saw a decrease in the imperfections, including a very promising one which hatched in May 2017.  This gave me hope that the Super LF was a viable morph, and not all Super LF had the imperfect features of the early ones!  A second very promising one hatched in late June 2017.  Both of these great looking Super LF come from the same parents in our LF Wild Caught bloodline project (LF Wild Caught bloodline x LF Wild Caught bloodline).  The other Super LF projects we worked on were LF Sunburst Tangerine x LF Sunburst Tangerine, and LF het RAPTOR x LF het RAPTOR.  We have never seen any tumors on our Super LF, but some do have some thickened portions of skin in relation to their pattern.  We will be monitoring these areas carefully to understand the skin thickening as they age.   They also seem to have other cool features unique to the morph that we are excited to watch as they mature.

This is the very promising Super LF we hatched in May 2017:

 

 


This is the very promising Super LF we hatched in June 2017:

 

 


So what does the Super LF (homozygous form of LF gene) do to the phenotype? Based on our observations in our collection, we believe the LF to be an incomplete dominant gene (incorrectly called a codominant gene in the reptile community). The LF and Super LF work similarly to how the Mack Snow gene works. The heterozygous Mack Snow takes away some yellow and the Super Snow (homozygous Mack Snow) takes away all yellow. With the LF and Super LF, the incomplete dominant gene follows the same pattern, but in reverse by adding color rather than taking it away. The LF gene adds an overall white color to the body. The additional white color is what makes the yellow or orange appear so stunning and bright in LFs. The Super LF adds even more white color to the head, body, and most notably the belly. LFs often have white sides of the body and translucent bellies. However on the Super LF, the white color continues down the sides and covers part or all of the belly. The amount of white color in the Super LF in our collection is variable, but we do see an overall increase of white color as compared to LF. Some LF have yellow or orange bellies, especially in high color projects. We see this feature accentuated even more in the Super LF, with nearly complete yellow/orange bellies in some of our Super LF. Another notable difference between the LF and the Super LF is found in the eye. The eyes on a LF are brighter and whiter than a non-LF, but the amount of white in the eye is variable between individuals. High expression animals have nice bright white eyes and low expression animals have darker eyes. In the Super LF, all appear to have very clean, bright white eyes.

Whenever I receive a new bloodline of leopard geckos, I am always looking for a way to improve it (i.e., increase color intensity, increase size and vitality, increase intensity of patterning, test breeding to discover and remove hidden hets, outcrossing or selectively breeding to get rid of kinked tails, overbites, etc.).  There is always something that can be improved upon - and that is the fun of selectively breeding geckos!  The Super LF seems to be a perfect example of a morph that can be refined with time to be perfect and viable.  Some Super LF are perfect, but others are not.  Why is this?  What about the genetics is different between a perfect one and one with imperfect body proportions?   We don’t know the answer to these questions yet, and only time and more selective breeding will provide answers.  Within our collection of Super LFs, we see some with imperfections, and we are focusing our breeding project on reducing and eliminating these imperfections.  But, we also have a few Super LF that are very promising, and these give us hope in the viability of the morph.  So far, all of our Super LFs are doing well, eating and growing normally and do not show any raised tumor-like spots. 

The LF morph has already shown good response to outcrossing and selective breeding in the two generations we have worked with it (2016 and 2017), and I am hopeful that other issues with this morph can be removed over time.  Let me give you an example of how a selective breeding program can remove issues from a morph. Many people will remember seeing the first photos of the original female LF hatched by TGR, and her especially large white eyes.  When I first saw that photo, I was worried that the gene for LF also dictated large eye size and that all LFs would have large eyes.  However, once this original female was bred, subsequent generations showed reduction in the eye size back to normal proportions.  My original male, Mr. Frosty, has slightly large eyes.  When I bred him, I found some babies had very large eyes and some had normal sized eyes.  I purposefully chose LF males that had normal sized eyes to be used as breeders in 2017. As a result to this selective breeding process, I see very few that have larger than normal eyes among the 2017 babies.  It seems it was just a trait with the original female and her original offspring which were still closely related to her.  By outcrossing and selective breeding, the large eye problem is on its way to being fixed.  Some people have told me they would love to have geckos with large eyes, but for me it was a goal to remove this and have normal sized eyes. 

Some may ask why I didn’t provide information about the Super LF sooner.  As mentioned before, I felt that TGR (as the originator of the morph) had the sole discretion to disclose this information.  However, TGR recently (July 2017) indicated they were fine if I made an announcement regarding the Super LF.  I was not quite ready in July 2017 to publicize it as I wanted more photos and information to share.  I wanted to show pictures of a baby and sub-adult at the same time to show the ontogenetic change in color and pattern.  That time has come as our best Super LF (the one hatched in May 2017) is 35 grams. We are happy to now share this news with the world.

Here are some additional photos of Super LF in our collection including belly and eye views to show the distinction between a LF and a Super LF:

Super LF #1 - this is the baby that hatched in May 2017, as described above

 

 
       
   


Updated photos of this same Super LF (May 2017), at 35 grams

 

 
       

 

 


Super LF #2 - this is the baby that hatched in June 2017, as described above

 

 
       

 

 


Updated photos of this same Super LF (June 2017 Hatchling)

 

 
       

 

 


Super LF #3

 

 
       

 

 
       


Super LF #4

 

 
       

 

 


Super LF #5

 

 
       

 

 


Super LF #6

 

 
       

 

 


Bellies of Normal Leopard Gecko, Lemon Frost, and Super Lemon Frost:

Normal adult belly (this is a Lemon Frost Sibling)

 

 
Lemon Frost belly (the white on this one goes farther down the sides than most) - note the translucent belly

 

 


Super Lemon Frosts: