If you are interested in breeding bearded dragons, one of the first things you must do is determine its gender. It will be very difficult to breed bearded dragons except you have at least one per sex. Thus, determining the sex of a bearded dragon can be very difficult to do with baby, or juvenile bearded dragons. However, it is much easier to determine once the bearded dragon has reached at least six months old.
How do you determine the gender of your bearded dragon? There are various ways to determine the gender of a bearded dragon. Although they show no obvious difference in color, or structure, there are ways. Thus, placing a male and a female side by side, you can tell a male
- has a larger, and broader head
- reaches a longer length, and
- is more robust than the female.
The male will also have a darker beard than the female dragon.
The following information will be addressing the question of how to tell the gender of a bearded dragon:
- search for hemipenal bulges
- how you can use a flashlight to tell the gender of a bearded dragon
- search for femoral pores
- why your bearded dragon’s femoral pores are so large
- other physical traits to determine the gender of a bearded dragon
- female dragons turning their beards black
- the difference in size between the male and female bearded dragon
- more accurate quick method
Search for Hemipenal Bulges
What are hemipenal bulges?
The term “hemipenal bulges” sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Thus, the best way to find out is to get to know your bearded dragon’s anatomy a little better.
First, take your dragon and gently turn it over to expose its belly. You are going to be looking right where your bearded dragon’s tail joins with its body. Make sure you can clearly see the tail area.
Also, be careful not to crank the tail over the bearded dragon’s back because it can break and hurt your dragon. Unlike many breeds of lizard, bearded dragons, in particular, cannot grow back their tails.
Thus, near the base of your bearded dragon’s tail, you will see a sideways slit called the “vent.” Although humans and most mammals have separate exits for reproduction, urination, and fecal matter, dragons have just one.
The vent is the “exit door” for the cloaca, a kind of one-stop-shop for the products of the bladder, colon, and reproductive system.
Likewise, looking near the vent, you may be able to see two long, fingerlike shapes on either side of your bearded dragon’s tail right below the vent.
Those two shapes are known as the hemipenal bulges. They will look as if two very small fingers were embedded underneath your dragon’s tail skin. Generally, there will be very little dimple between the two long bulges.
In fact, the general shape and placement of the hemipenal bulges might remind you of bunny ears.
If your bearded dragon has these two long hemipenal bulges, it is probably male. Your female bearded dragon will also have a bulge below her vent.
How Can I Use a Flashlight to Discover the Sex of My Bearded Dragon?
When they are young, all dragons appear to be female. If you’re wondering how to discover the gender of a baby bearded dragon, it’s almost impossible on your own.
It’s only when bearded dragons reach their sexual maturity between 8-12 months that most people can detect sexual differences.
When your bearded dragon has reached that age, you can use a flashlight if you’re wondering, “How do you tell a bearded dragon’s gender?”
Thus, to use the flashlight method, gently lift your bearded dragon’s tail. Remember, never lift it more than ninety degrees or bend it back along your beardie’s spine.
That will hurt and you may break your bearded dragon’s tail. Turn off the lights in the room completely and shine a flashlight through the tail area near the vent.
Thus, if your bearded dragon is male, you will see the shadow of its testes. Hence, the general shape of the shadow will look like two long prongs on either side of the tail.
It may actually remind some people of the horn sign heavy metal players make with their fingers. If your bearded dragon is female, you might see a darker shadow, but it’s less defined. Likewise, it may look like a small black blob or as a silhouette of the shrug emoji.
Search for Femoral Pores
What are femoral pores?
If you take your dragon and gently turn him or her belly-up, you may be able to see a body feature called femoral pores. Femoral pores are a series of little holes or pore that run along your male dragon’s inner thighs.
Femoral pores form a line which begins from your bearded dragon’s knees and continues up to both inner thighs and vent. Also, the line of pores follows their “inseam area.”
Your dragon may have ten or more pores. Likewise, they can look like pinpricks or small pits along the inner leg.
If you want to know how to determine a bearded dragon’s gender, these femoral pores can be very helpful. Further, sexually mature male bearded dragons usually have visible femoral pores, but female bearded dragons do not.
What Does My Bearded Dragon Use Femoral Pores for?
A femoral pore is a typical example of an exocrine gland. Exocrine glands excrete substances right from the body onto the outside of the skin or other objects. In bearded dragons, the femoral pores contain a waxy substance that the dragon uses to mark his territory and attract mates.
Beginning bearded dragon fans might think that the femoral pores are blackheads, but they’re not. Although they’re waxy and porous, the femoral pores actually serve an important purpose.
The waxy substance contains pheromones that allow the male bearded dragon to attract a female dragon during their mating season. The secretion also absorbs UV light, so any animal that can detect UV light can see where the dragon has marked his territory.
As you can see, femoral pores are very important, and they also tend to be a clear physical difference between male and female bearded dragons.
Why Is My Bearded Dragon’s Femoral Pores So Large?
Sometimes, your dragon’s femoral pores might appear to be enlarged. Therefore if you look along the line of the femoral pores, it might look as if they have little horns or protrusions stuck in them like corks in a wine bottle.
It’s natural to wonder if big pores are normal for your dragon. You may wonder if your bearded dragon’s femoral pores are plugged up or impacted. The good news is that this is just perfectly normal.
What’s important to know is that during mating season, your bearded dragon is trying to put the word out that he wants a mate. Thus, larger femoral pores are normal at this time.
Except your bearded dragon’s femoral pores are swollen, red, or sore, there is usually no need to worry. Leave your bearded dragon’s femoral pores alone.
If you do have further concerns about this, you might want to see a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals and reptiles. It’s important to provide the best care for your dragon and talk with a vet who will answer your questions.
Other Physical Traits to Tell Your Bearded Dragon’s Gender
What methods to determine gender should I not use?
If you want to know how to tell the gender of a juvenile dragon, it’s not always easy. The question of “bearded dragon being male or female” has been brought up many times, and not all of the advice given out there is accurate.
Here are some methods that aren’t very accurate to tell the sex of your bearded dragon.
Do Females Turn Their Beards Black?
Bearded dragons are called “bearded” because below their jaws is a fleshy sac that they can puff out when they’re threatened, angry or excited. Male bearded dragons can develop a larger black beard, but this isn’t a very accurate method of sexing your dragon.
For one, if you have one bearded dragon, it’s hard to compare the blackness of your bearded dragon’s beard with anything else.
Next, it isn’t always the case that male bearded dragons are the only ones with large black beards. Beards are important tools for finding a new partner or for showing dominance or territoriality.
Likewise, when bearded dragons feel agitated, they’ll puff out their beards and turn them black. However, this not an accurate method to determine gender of a bearded dragon.
Male bearded dragons will reveal their beards as a courtship gesture, and females will use them to frighten away a threat.
However, it’s not always easy to determine what’s going on in a particular moment with your bearded dragon. Is your dragon trying to make a love connection or swiping left on a potential mate she does not want?
The bottom line is that determining the gender of your dragon may take a little time and some study. However, with enough information, you should be able to arrive at a solid conclusion.
Remember to look first for hemipenal bulges and shine a light through your bearded dragon’s tail to look for the shadow of its testes. It’s important to be gentle during this process and not lift your dragon’s tail above 90 degrees.
While you’re looking, check to see if you can find a row of femoral pores along the inside of your bearded dragon’s thighs. They should look like a row of little pinpricks or holes.