6 Proven Methods to Sex a Bearded Dragon & Tell Their Age!

For owners, figuring out how you can sex a bearded dragon is very important. Having the knowledge of what gender your bearded dragon is can help you give the best care possible.

However, this can be harder than it might seem at first. Unlike most creatures, bearded dragons don’t have obvious signs that show us if they’re male or female.

Keep reading to find out how to sex a bearded dragon with many different kinds of techniques!

How to Sex a Bearded Dragon

sexing-bearded-dragon

There are 6 ways to sex your bearded dragon. These are all dependent on their physical features. The gender-specific features may not be clearly visible in baby and juvenile dragons. But as they get older it becomes easier to identify if they are male or female. This is because the more developed they are the easier it is to see their features.

So, here are all the methods that we will discuss in this post:

  1. Hemipenal Bulges
  2. The Flashlight Technique
  3. Femoral Pore
  4. Cloacal Opening
  5. Behavior
  6. Physical differences

1. Hemipenal Bulges

How to identify the gender of your Bearded Dragon

Arguably the most popular and best way to find out if your beardie is a girl or a boy is to check and identify its hemipenal bulges. These bulges indicate the presence of hemipenes which are internal sex organs (i.e. a reptile’s penis)

Males will have two hemipenal bulges underneath their tails, on each side of their tails.

On the other hand, females will have one hemipenal bulge, also underneath their tail, in the center.

Method

  • Begin by grasping their stomach with your palm.
  • With the other hand, gently hold their tail about one-third away from the base.
  • Lift their tail gently upwards into an oblique angle posture.
  • If you lift their tail, the side base of the tail will stretch out a little.
  • Look for a hemipenal bulging outline.
sexing-beardies

At the base of the tail, just above the vent, there are typically two separated bulges. If you see two clearly separate bulges, as in the upper image, you have a male.

At the base of the tail, just above the vent, there is typically one half-moon-shaped bulge or no bulge. If you see one bulge,  as in the upper image, you have a female.

2. Flashlight The Hemipenal Bulges

How to tell the gender of a hatchling bearded dragon

This technique works the same way as the first one, but it involves using a flashlight. Shinning a flashlight will make the hemipenal bulges very easy to see.

Method

  • Hold your bearded dragon the same way you did before.
  • Slowly and gently lift its tail.
  • Then with your other hand shine the flashlight downwards at the top of its tail, at the place where its tail connects to the rest of its body.
  • You should see the hemipenal bulges from the back of your bearded dragon’s tail.
  • The bulges will be red, with black shadows around them.

As mentioned before, females have one hemipenal while males have two.

3. Femoral Pore

Bearded Dragon Sexing and Health Checks

Femoral pores are the spot where a bearded dragon secretes pheromones. It’s mostly used around their mating season. When bearded dragons start secreting pheromones, they do it to show that they are ready to mate.

While both males and females have femoral pores, they look slightly different. A female’s femoral pores will be smaller, and duller, compared to males, whose femoral pores are much more noticeable in color.

These spots are found inside your bearded dragon’s thighs.

Method

  • Make sure your reptile is comfortable with handling.
  • Gently place your hand on your beardie’s back and pick it up.
  • Make sure your dragon is not struggling in your hand.
  • Rotate your hand so you can clearly see its belly and inner thighs.

Male Bearded Dragons should have large, well-defined circles on their inner thighs. These circles are often the size of small pebbles. 

Females have similar pores, but they are smaller and typically more difficult to see. female femoral pores are around the size of the head of a pin.

Beginners might find it challenging to sex bearded dragons just based on their femoral pores.

Without a known-sex Bearded Dragon to compare with, it can be challenging to compare pores. Additionally, this technique only works with adult bearded dragons. At the baby or juvenile stage, the femoral pores often look identical between males and females.

Note: Only in adulthood do a bearded dragon’s femoral pores fully develop. You might not get reliable results with this strategy if your bearded dragon is under a year old.

4. Cloacal Opening

The entrance of the cloaca is also known as a vent. This opening is located on the underside of a bearded dragon between its hind legs and is used to pass feces, urate, and eggs. If you followed steps one and two to sex your bearded dragon, you will have already witnessed this.

Compared to females, males have a larger cloacal opening due to the fact that their hemipenes are everted during breeding.

This technique is similar to sexing beardie by femoral pores.

Method

  • Make sure your beardie is comfortable with handling.
  • Gently pick your dragon up.
  • Make sure your beardie is not struggling in your hands.
  • Hold your hand in a position so that you are able to clearly see its inner thighs and cloaca.

If you have a male bearded dragon, you will see a fairly wide cloacal opening, when compared to a female.

Because cloaca size varies with body size, the exact size difference will vary from dragon to dragon. But the cloaca of a female will always be smaller.

This method is hard to use if you don’t have a known-sex Bearded Dragon to compare it to.

When trying to figure out if a bearded dragon is male or female, it’s best to use more than one method, such as looking for a bulge in the hemipenal region.

Remember that the Cloacal Opening technique is ineffective for bearded dragons that are less than 12 weeks old. Males must get older and mature in order to acquire a larger cloacal aperture. The additional width will only then become noticeable.

5. Behavior

Understanding the bearded dragon’s behavior can give you signs of whether your dragon is a male or a female. Here are some of the behaviors that are common for bearded dragons.

Black Beard

Male bearded dragons, in particular, are territorial. To show its dominance over smaller males and females in his region, a male will grow a dark beard. It might do this by bobbing its head, which is also a sign of dominance.

Other males are warned to stay away from this dragon’s female by a black beard. Females rarely grow black beards as a form of territorial show.

Both, Male and female dragons can also puff out and blacken their beards to show aggressiveness or a desire to be left alone.

The dark beard can scare off predators, and it may be accompanied by hissing and a gaping mouth to make the specimen appear larger and more threatening.

Lastly, a black beard can indicate disease, illness, or stress, especially if other areas of the body are also black. If this occurs, the beardie should be taken to a reptile-friendly veterinarian right away!

Hissing

Males are more likely to hiss during the mating season in order to assert their dominance. Bearded dragons that are normally calm might become unusually aggressive during this time, with hissing being one of the most common behaviors.

This isn’t something you should see from a captive bearded dragon, but if they do hiss, then the lizard is most likely a male.

Head Bobbing

One of the key reasons you might notice a bearded dragon bobbing its head is to establish authority over its territory. It may appear that they are bobbing their heads at nothing, depending on the scenario.

This is perfectly normal behavior, both male and female bearded dragons engage in this natural activity, however, male bearded dragons are more likely to engage in aggressive head bobbing.

6. Physical Differences

FeaturesMaleFemale
Cloacal openingWideNarrow
Base of tailWideNarrow
Pre-anal and
femoral pores
LargeSmall
HeadLarge, WideNarrow, Long
BeardLarge, black
in color
Smaller, not
as black

Female bearded dragons usually tend to have smaller heads than a male. Males’ spikes are often pointing up and are more visible when they are mating. Males also tend to puff up and darken their beards way more than females. On top of this, they also have a much thicker tail as well.

Female bearded dragons tend to be on the thinner side when it comes to their tail and just overall body.

At What Age Can you Identify if Your Beardie is a Male or a Female?

Before you try using every kind of method out there to try to figure out if your bearded dragon is a male or a female, make sure it’s of age where you can actually find out what sex they are.

Knowing what the sex of your bearded dragon is can become a very frustrating process if your beardie is under 6 to 4 months. But experienced owners, as well as breeders, typically find out the gender way quicker.

Bearded dragons need to be at least 8 to 13 weeks for you to see what gender they are, easily.

Some professionals can discover the gender of the beardie, even if it’s only 4 to 5 weeks old!

Knowing what the age of your bearded dragon is can make it much easier to sex your beardie.

Usually, if you buy a bearded dragon from a breeder, they will probably give you the age record of the pet. Reliable breeders keep records of everything, whether it’s birth or the age of their parents.

However, if you don’t have any record of the age of your beardie, you can measure the length of your bearded dragon to get a rough age range.

AgeLength
0 to 1 month3″ to 4″ inches
2 months5″ to 9″ inches
3 months8″ to 11″ inches
4 months9″ to 12″ inches
5 months11″ to 16″ inches
6 months11″ to 18″ inches
8 months13″ to 20″ inches
12 months16″ to 22″ inches

When you start measuring, don’t forget to include its tail as well. Take out your ruler or measuring tape and start measuring from the top of the bearded dragon’s head to the end of its tail.

How To Sex A Baby Bearded Dragon

baby-bearded-dragon

Sexing baby bearded dragons can be challenging. Sexing of babies and young beardies will not be as accurate as of the adults. This is due to the lack of development in the characteristics used to determine their gender. If you want to be absolutely sure about the sex, you will need to wait until your beardie is at least 12 weeks old.

You can try and sex your beardie using the following two techniques.

  1. Tail size
  2. Hemipenal bulges

Both these methods can only help you make an educated guess.

To sex a baby bearded dragon, first apply the flashlight technique mentioned above and then confirm your findings by looking at the tail size.

Females’ tails are narrow and taper sharply towards the base. Males’ tails are somewhat thicker at the base. As they grow, these distinctions become more prominent and simpler to notice.

Some experts advise that you should also consider their head size as well. Males do, in fact, have wider skulls, but it’s difficult to notice this in babies, so it’s best to avoid it.

What is the Difference Between Male and Female Bearded Dragons?

Adult bearded dragons are sexually dimorphic, which means that the male and female are physically different. Compared to females, males have two hemipenal bulges, expanded femoral pores, larger heads, thicker tails, and darker beards. All of these changes can be seen in adults by following the sexing techniques outlined above. You may also observe differences in male versus female behavior and spike presentation.

Below are some the most obvious differences between male and female bearded dragons.

Head size

Heads of male and female bearded dragons differ in shape and size. Male dragons typically have larger, thicker heads than females. Females have thinner skulls and smaller heads.

Tail size

The tails of male and female bearded dragons differ slightly as well. Male bearded dragons have bigger tails. The tail of a female is significantly smaller and slenderer. The method of sexing bearded dragons usiing tails only works if the beardie is 12 months old.

Aggressive and Submissive Behaviors

Male bearded dragons are more aggressive and possessive of their territory. They show dominance by hissing, stomping, beard ruffling, and head bobbing. Males are also more likely than females to have dark beards. Females, particularly juveniles, are more likely to demonstrate submission by arm waving.

Spikes

Both male and female bearded dragons have spikes around their beards, heads, and throats. Bearded dragons use spikes as a weapon mechanism to deter predators. Bearded dragons puff up their bodies, which stiffens their spikes. This makes them look more dangerous and gives them better defense weapons. But male and female beardies use these spikes in different ways:

  • Male dragons use their spikes as a sign that they are ready to mate during the mating seasons.
  • Females on the other hand use their spikes when they are feeling threatened. They will most likely to wave their arms when ready for mating.

Remember that detecting all of the differences between males and females takes practice. Male and female differences are not always obvious, and behaviors might be displayed by both sexes for a variety of reasons.

Can a Bearded Dragon Change its Sex?

As insane as it seems, this is a very normal question, Bearded dragons can change their gender! To sum it up, bearded dragons’ gender is temperature dependent, and not only determined by chromosomes.

Research shows that raising the Temperature during incubation, turned male bearded dragons into females. However, females cannot become males no matter what.

Conclusion

And, that’s all!. These are the few main methods that you can use for determining your bearded dragon’s gender.

Sexing a bearded dragon is necessary to avoid housing two males together. It is also fun to know the gender of your bearded dragon, especially when naming them.

Keep in mind that hemipenal bulges and femoral pores, as well as behavioral tendencies, will differ from dragon to dragon, so, the advice given above may not always be accurate according to your specific beardie.

I hope now you know all the different methods you can use to sex your bearded dragon! Chances are, that at least one of these methods will end up making it easier for you to tell which sex your bearded dragon is! Just work your way through all the methods and you’ll eventually land on the answer!

I am the editor-in-chief at MyPetReptiles.com, a site that is devoted to reptiles and the people who love them. I have been keeping and breeding many pet reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, chameleons, etc. for over 10 years now.

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