How To Tell The Sex Of A Bearded Dragon
The basic care routine for both male and female bearded dragons is pretty much the same. However, it is crucial to know the gender of your lizards if you want to breed them in the future.
Also, you may want to prevent breeding or aggressiveness. In this case, you need to sex the reptiles correctly to separate adult males into different enclosures and probably house female pets together.
Learning how to tell the sex of a bearded dragon can also help you choose an appropriate name for your pet. And even if you are just curious, this guide will show you a few different ways to know the sex of your beardie.
Sexing Your Bearded Dragon
Method 1: Look for the Sex Organ – the Hemipenal Buldge
The first method of sexing bearded dragons is to look for the reproductive organs known as the hemipenal bulge. Unlike many other animals, the sex organs in bearded dragons are tricky to find. They are tucked away underneath the tail and are not obvious to the untrained eye.
Here’s how to find the hemipenal bulge and tell if your beardie is male or female:
Place the reptile on a flat surface, holding it gently but firmly, so it doesn’t run away.
Lift the tail so you can see under it clearly.
Look above the vent on the tail side (not the leg side).
A male bearded dragon will have two bulges at both sides of the tail near the base.
For the female, you will notice only one bulge. It is a slightly protruding pump centrally located between the top of the hind limbs and the top of the tail.
Method 2: Use a Flashlight
Sometimes, it can be difficult to spot the sex organs in bright conditions. In that case, this second method should help you easily see the hemipenal bulges.
This method is pretty much the same as the first one. However, it is performed using a flashlight in a darker condition.
Here is how to do the flashlight test:
Follow the same procedure in the first method, positioning the bearded dragon and lifting its tail.
Grab a flashlight and shine through the pet’s tail. You can use your phone’s light if you don’t have a flashlight.
Make sure to shine the topside of the tail while you look at the underside just above the vent.
You should be able to see the two hemipenal bulges forming a sort of U shape if it is a male bearded dragon. Of course, it is a female dragon if you see only a vertical bulge.
Note: Never wake your bearded dragon night to perform a flashlight test. Do the test before your pet’s bedtime. Simply turn off the light in the room to create darker conditions.
Method 3: Check for Size Difference in the Femoral Pores
Bearded dragons attract mates and mark territories using glands found inside their thighs. These glands are known as femoral pores.
Both males and females have femoral pores, but the size of the pores is different for each gender.
To check the size of the glands:
Gently hold the pet in your hand.
Look on the underside of the thighs, paying attention to the spots on the hind legs running from one knee to the other.
The femoral pores are more pronounced in male dragons. If you have a difficult time noticing the pores or if they are too tiny, you are probably looking at a female beardie.
Method 4: Look at the Size of the Cloacal Opening – the Vent
The cloacal opening – commonly called the vent – is the space that opens to the outside of the reptile’s body. It is the opening for passing out wastes and laying eggs.
To figure out the sex of your pet using this method:
Hold the beardie in your hand or place it on a flat surface.
Look at the underside of the hind thighs.
Female bearded dragons have a narrower cloacal opening, while males have a wider vent opening.
How to Tell the Sex of Baby Bearded Dragons
Some of the methods discussed above are not effective for determining the gender of baby bearded dragons. For example, you cannot tell the sex of a baby beardie by observing the vent or cloacal opening. That method only works for bearded dragons older than three months.
One of the most effective ways to tell the sex of a baby bearded dragon is by observing the tail size. However, you can start by using the flashlight method and then look at the tail to confirm your observation.
The tails of male baby beardies are slightly thicker at the base, while baby females have narrower tails. Also, the tail of a baby female bearded dragon tends to taper sharply toward the base.
Physical Differences in Male and Female Bearded Dragons
Indeed, both male and female bearded dragons have almost the same physical appearance. However, you can spot some slight differences in their physical characteristics by observing them more closely. This is particularly the case with mature reptiles.
Here are a few physical differences between male and female bearded dragons:
Head size: Adult male bearded dragons have thicker and larger heads. On the other hand, females, even mature ones, have smaller heads because of their thinner skulls.
Belly size: Adult female bearded dragons have a softer chubby belly than males, which is not surprising, considering mature females hold eggs in their bellies.
Tail: Like baby beardies, adult bearded dragons have slight differences in their tails. Females have a more slender tail, while the tails in males are thicker at the base.
Overall body size: Male bearded dragons tend to grow slightly larger in length than females in the wild. However, a few different factors can affect their overall size in captivity. For example, diet, heating, and other tank conditions can affect how fast and well both sexes develop.
Behavioral Differences in Male and Female Bearded Dragons
Another way to tell the sex of your bearded dragons is by observing their behaviors. Keep in mind that this is a less accurate way to determine the gender of a beardie and should never be used alone to sex a bearded dragon.
However, you can use more concrete techniques discussed earlier and confirm your finding using the pet's behavior. Here are the common behavior differences in male and female bearded dragons.
In most cases, hissing is a sign of aggression. It is a more common behavior in male bearded dragons. However, it doesn’t occur very often in captive conditions. If your beardie hisses, there is a strong possibility that it is a male.
Arm waving is more common in female bearded dragons than males. It usually indicates submission or a willingness to mate. If you notice frequent arm waving from your pet, it is probably a female bearded dragon.
Both sexes have spikes around their heads, throats, and beards. However, these reptiles present or use the spikes for different reasons. Female bearded dragons tend to show their spikes when faced with a threat. Male beardies present spikes in readiness for mating.