Bearded dragons are hard to sex by looking at them as babies and it doesn’t become more obvious until they are well into the juvenile stage. The external signs of the sex of your bearded dragon may not show until 4-6 months of age. Keep in mind that the size of a bearded dragons means more than calendar age when determining sexual maturity.
For all new animals to your collection it is best a vet does an initial health assessment for you. Your vet has the means and knowledge to determine its sex with more intrusive methods.
Bearded dragon is male or female? [3 key characteristics]
Here are 3 ways to determine the sex of your bearded dragon:
1. Look for the hemipenile bulges of the male
Male bearded dragons have two bulges at the base of their tile near the vent. These bulges are the hemipenes in their inverted position (inside their body) near the cloaca.
Gently pressing and massaging the tail towards the vent will likely cause the hemipenes to be everted. However, this comes with warning that it truly is best to ask your vet to show you how to do this before you attempt. Damaging the hemipenes will lead to pain and can be quite disastrous.
A better way of seeing whether the hemipenes is present and thus being a male is by placing a flash light against the tail and looking for the silhouette of the hemipenes.
Bearded dragons have two penises which together are called hemipenes or singularly are called hemipenis.
Sometimes a hemipenial plug can block the hemipenes causing swelling, often seen in bearded dragons (Funk, 2006). More on that in the article on bearded dragon breeding.
Hemipenes may become swollen which can prevent them from becoming inverted again. 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, or let anyone else do so.
2. Males have larger femoral pores [preanal pores]
Femoral pores appear as dots running along the inside of their legs. Bearded dragon male or female have femoral pores. As males become adults the femoral pores will be much larger and more pronounced than females.
3. Different behaviours
Bearded dragon male and female can display different behaviours. This won’t be so obvious until they become more sexually mature.
One of those differences is that both male and female bearded dragons can display their beard. Males are more likely to show the dark color of their beard, and more often than females. This is demonstrated in the video below by Moulton College.
Females 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? Don’t worry, they won’t be fertile unless mated. More on that in the post on bearded dragon breeding.
3 characteristics of a male bearded dragon
- Two bulges at the base of the tail where the hemipenis is inverted.
- Larger femoral pores than the female.
- Wider cloacal opening than the female.
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to choose a name for your bearded dragon.
Do you know if your bearded dragon is male or female? Tell us your story in the comments
Funk, R. S. (Ed: Mader, D. R.) (2006) Tail Damage. Reptile Medicine and Surgery (2nd Ed) W.B. Saunders. p 913-915 https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-72-169327-X/50074-2