Bearded Dragon Male or Female: How to Tell

Is your bearded dragon male or female? Identifying the differences between male and female bearded dragons is not always straightforward, especially with younger ones.

Adult bearded dragons can be sexed with ease due to more pronounced physical characteristics. Sexing baby bearded dragons is not so easy and requires gentle handling and keen observation to avoid stress and potential harm to the animal.

Bearded dragon male or female signs starts to become easier to detect once they reach juvenile stage. The external signs of the sex of your bearded dragon should show between 4-6 months of age. Keep in mind that the size of a bearded dragons means more than calendar age when determining sexual maturity.

how to tell if your bearded dragon male or female - determining sex

Key Takeaways

  • Sexing bearded dragons is essential for proper care and breeding.
  • Baby bearded dragons present more of a challenge for sex determination than adults.
  • Typical age for identifying whether a bearded dragon is male or female is after 3 months old.
  • Males have hemipenile bulges.

Bearded Dragon Male or Female: 5 Signs of Gender

Determining the sex of a bearded dragon can be challenging, especially in young individuals. However, there are several physical characteristics that can help pet owners distinguish between a male and a female:

  1. Hemipenal Bulges: Adult males typically have two noticeable bulges at the base of their tail, just above the vent (cloacal opening), which are the hemipenes. Males also have a wider cloacal opening than females.
    Females may have a single, less pronounced bulge or none at all.
  2. Femoral Pores: These are small, glandular openings on the underside of the thighs. Femoral pores appear as dots running along the inside of their legs. Both bearded dragon male or females have femoral pores. As males become adults the femoral pores will be much larger and more pronounced than females. In addition, the males femoral pores will become very active during mating season.
  3. Head and Body Shape: Males often have broader heads and more pronounced jowls than females. Their bodies tend to be stockier, and they may display a more triangular head shape. However, this characteristic is subtle in young dragons, rendering it unreliable for gender determination at this phase of their development.
  4. Behavioral Differences: While not a physical trait, males may exhibit more territorial and aggressive behaviors, especially during the breeding season. They might also show more vivid coloration and engage in distinctive behaviors like head bobbing and arm waving.
    Once females are mature they are well known for digging, a trait they need when ready to lay eggs. Did you know they can become gravid (pregnant) even if they haven’t been mated? They won’t be fertile unless they were mated.
  5. Cloacal Opening: The shape and position of the cloacal opening can also be an indicator. In males, the cloaca tends to be further away from the base of the tail compared to females.
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At What Age Can you tell the Gender of a Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons display more pronounced sexual dimorphism as they mature, which assists in identifying their gender. Generally, it can be challenging to distinguish between a bearded dragon male or female when they are under eight weeks old. This is due to their similarities in appearance.

The age you can tell a bearded dragons gender is optimally between 8 to 12 weeks old, as they start showing subtle differences that may indicate their sex.

  • Before 8 weeks: Identification is difficult; even experienced handlers may face challenges. Better determined by a vet.
  • 8 to 12 weeks: Initial signs of sexual dimorphism may appear, and beardies become less squirmy, reducing the risk of injury during handling. Requires an expert to identify gender who will likely use a special probe.
  • 3 months and older: Bearded dragons are calmer, facilitating safer and more accurate sexing.
  • 12 months (adult): Male bearded dragons typically exhibit distinguishable traits:
    • Prominent hemipenal bulges
    • Enlarged femoral pores
    • Larger heads
    • Thicker tails
    • Darker beards

Waiting until beardies reach full maturity, i.e., 12 months of age, can ensure the most accurate identification, as the physical characteristics associated with each sex are fully developed. It’s essential to handle these creatures with care at any age during the sexing process to avoid causing them stress or harm.

How To Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Male or Female

Everting the Hemipenes if they Exist!

Warning: Everting the hemipenes incorrectly could result in pain, damage to the hemipenes and stress. Asking a vet to demonstrate the correct method the first time will reduce the risks.

Bearded dragons have a unique feature called hemipenal bulges if they’re male. These are like hidden clues towards the base of their tail, near their vent (that’s the all-purpose opening for waste and reproduction). For dragons over 4-6 months, this is your go-to method.

Before you start, make sure you and your scaly pal are comfortable with each other. Handling them for this check before they trust you might stress them out. Here’s the gentle approach:

  1. Place your beardie on a secure, flat surface or cradle them in one hand, supporting their body and legs comfortably.
  2. With your free hand, carefully lift the base of their tail upward, but don’t go past a 90-degree angle. It’s crucial not to tug at the tail end to avoid anything that may cause pain.
  3. Peek at the underside of the tail base. Males will show off two parallel bulges running down towards the vent. Females, on the other hand, might have a single, less noticeable bump or none at all.

If the bulges aren’t popping out at you, try lifting the tail just a tad more to stretch the skin, making any hidden hemipenal bulges easier to spot. Remember, be gentle to keep your beardie comfy.

determining the sex of bearded dragon male
The tail can be bent backwards gently to expose the sex of the bearded dragon. In this instance the two hemipenal bulges show a male.

The Flashlight Trick

This method is like using a detective’s flashlight to reveal secrets, and it’s especially handy for young beardies or when the bulge method is a bit tricky.

  1. Follow the same steps as above to get your bearded dragon in position.
  2. In a dim room use a small flashlight and shine it from the top, right at the base of the tail where it meets the body.
  3. The tail’s base should light up with a soft red glow. If your bearded dragon is a male, you’ll spot one or two shadowy areas within that glow – those are the hemipenal bulges. Females will have a more uniform red glow with maybe a faint single shadow in the center.

Bearded Dragon Male or Female: Issues that May Prevent Identifying Gender

Sometimes a hemipenial plug can block the hemipenes causing swelling, often seen in bearded dragons (Funk, 2006) which may also cause issues for breeding.

The hemipenes may become swollen which can prevent the bearded dragon from being able to put them away in their little protective house. Sometimes prolapse may also follow and both can lead to necrosis of the hemipenes. In turn that will lead to the hemipenes having to be amputated. This is also a good reason never to grab your bearded dragon by the tail.

Bearded Dragon Male or Female: Conclusion

In summary, identifying whether your bearded dragon is male or female hinges on observing key physical differences. Males typically showcase distinct hemipenal bulges at the base of their tail and exhibit more pronounced femoral pores along the inner thighs. Females, conversely, may have a single, less noticeable bulge and less prominent femoral pores.

The flashlight technique is the least intrusive way of distinguishing between the bearded dragon male or female, revealing shadowy bulges in males that are absent in females. Understanding these differences enriches your knowledge of your pet’s biological makeup.

Determining whether your bearded dragon is male or female is a process that deepens your understanding of your pet and makes it easier to choose the perfect name. Knowing the sex of your bearded dragon can help you decide on a name that reflects their gender. Fitting names for girls will be different to names for boys, although there are many gender neutral names.


Funk, R. S. (Ed: Mader, D. R.) (2006) Tail Damage. Reptile Medicine and Surgery (2nd Ed) W.B. Saunders. p 913-915