Female vs. Male Bearded Dragon: How To Tell the Difference

Female and Male Bearded Dragon Looking at each Other

Have you got a bearded dragon recently and want to know whether it is male or female? Or are you just curious about how different male and female beardies are?

Although you will care for male bearded dragons the same way you’d care for female dragons, owners need to know whether or not they’ve got a male or female.

The quickest way to determine your bearded dragon’s gender is to use a flashlight and place it on top of the tail base, so the light shines through. If you see a single bulge in the center, you have a female bearded dragon. You have a male bearded dragon if you can see two hemipenal bulges.

However, there are lots of other differences you need to know too. Please continue reading to find out what they all are.

Different Ways to Determine Bearded Dragon Gender

There are five distinct ways you can use to determine whether your bearded dragon is male or female. All five ways are about observing their features.

Like many animals, it is much easier to tell the difference between males and females since they develop more prominent features as they age. 

Because of this, the five ways to determine sex, as detailed below, are based on adult bearded dragons. Baby bearded dragons won’t have developed these features entirely.

To be particular about your bearded dragon’s gender, try all five methods detailed in this article.

1) Look at The Hemipenal Bulges

The quickest and easiest way to know whether or not you have a male or female is to look at the hemipenal bulges.

When there are hemipenal bulges, this will show there are internal sex organs present (hemipenes) – in other words, a bearded dragon’s penis.

You can locate hemipenal bulges on the underside of the abdomen, close to the bearded dragon’s tail.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. Begin with the bearded dragon’s belly on your palm.
  2. With your other hand, hold the bearded dragon’s tail at around a third of its length from the tail base.
  3. Lift the bearded dragon’s tail gently upwards to form an obtuse angle. 
  4. Observe to see if there is a hemipenal bulge outline.

Bearded Dragon Male or Female Hemipenal Bulges?

Male bearded dragons will have two grooves that run vertically along the tail upwards to the cloaca.

Female bearded dragons will have a single vertical bulge above the cloaca in the middle. As a result, the female dragon bugle isn’t as visible and will appear smoother.

Take care

Lifting a bearded dragon’s tail can cause discomfort, pain, stress, or injury, so make sure you are very gentle.

The most severe issue it can cause is them dropping their tail. The technical term for this is tail autotomy.

Baby bearded dragons and juveniles don’t have an apparent hemipenal bulge, so this tail-lifting method shouldn’t be used for sexing bearded dragons that aren’t yet adults. 

It’s also a good idea to use this method alongside another to confirm the gender.

2) Use a Flashlight to Inspect the Hemipenal Bulges

The second sexing method is very similar to the first but uses a flashlight to see shadows.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Handle your bearded dragon the same way as before (with their belly on your palm).
  2. Gently lift the tail over the head. Remember to take extra care when tail lifting.
  3. With your free hand, shine the flashlight from the top of the tail base. It would be best to aim it where the body becomes the tail.
  4. Looking from underneath the tail, the light should help highlight the hemipenal bulges. These appear red with a dark shadow.
  5. Only one centered shadow will indicate only one hemipenal bulge. In other words, you’ll have a female bearded dragon.
  6. When two hemipenal bulge shadows are apparent, you have a male.

Though not completely obvious in baby bearded dragons, this is a much better way to sex babies as it makes the interior more visible.

Using a Flashlight

3) The Size of The Femoral Pores

Another way to determine a beardie’s gender is by looking at its femoral pores and their size. Both male and female beardies have femoral pores.

These pores secrete pheromones – chemicals used for social interactions and breeding.

You can locate the femoral pores on the bearded dragon’s hind legs. They resemble little circles that run across the thighs.

Male Vs. female femoral pores aren’t the same. Male bearded dragons’ femoral pores are much bigger than those found on females.

They’re also more apparent and pronounced.

Due to their tiny size, you can’t measure these. Still, it is usually apparent to the naked eye to spot male vs. female femoral pores when a male and female bearded dragon are side by side.

Without the other sex to compare it to, it’s not so obvious unless you’re an expert.

There’s no point looking at these in babies or juveniles, as these pores don’t develop entirely until they’re adults.

So if you have a beardie less than a year old, you likely won’t get a reliable result this way.

4) Looking at The Vent Aka the Cloacal Opening to Determine if The Bearded Dragon Is Male or Female

The vent, known as the cloacal opening, is on the bearded dragon’s underside between its hind legs. The vent is used to pass eggs as well as feces and urate.

You will have seen it if you have used our first two steps to sex your beardie.

The male has a broader vent when you compare a bearded dragon male to a female.

Though this method can be used for juveniles, it isn’t suitable for sexing beardies less than three months old as they won’t have matured enough to develop the wider opening.

5) Observing Bearded Dragon Behavior Traits

When you observe a male vs. female bearded dragon, you will likely notice differences in their behavior.

Male bearded dragons are more dominant and will be aggressive. These aggressive and dominant behaviors are seen as stamping or hissing.

Male beardies also do more head bobbing than females.

Bearded dragon male behavior is often more threatening. For example, male beardies will fluff their beards to make them look more threatening to others.

If two beardies are in the same enclosure, the head bobbing can be slightly more complex.

It can be hard to determine whether or not a bearded dragon is doing a head bob to initiate a courtship with a female bearded dragon or to show dominant behaviors over another male.

Female bearded dragons are more likely to be submissive instead. Arm waving is a sign of submissive behavior, particularly in juvenile females.

Though head bobbing, aggression, and beard fluffing are more common if the bearded dragon is male, female head bobbing does happen too, which is why it is always best to determine male and female bearded dragon sex by more than one method!

A bearded dragon’s behavior does not always correspond to its sex.

Can You Sex a Baby Bearded Dragon?

Sexing a baby bearded dragon or a juvenile is not going to be an exact science, and you’re likely to make more mistakes than if you were to try and sex an adult.

This difficulty is because the different physical features used to determine gender are not developed.

To be sure whether a bearded dragon is male or female, you should wait until they are at least three months old.

Baby bearded dragons can be sexed in two ways:

  1. The size of their tail
  2. Their hemipenal bulges

These ways should only be used as an ‘educated guess.’ Once the bearded dragon has grown and matured, it will have developed the sexual characteristics needed for proper sexing.

Baby bearded dragon on a piece of wood

Tail Size: Males vs. Females

As well as using the flashlight mentioned above, you can compare your thoughts by observing the size of your beardie’s tail.

Female bearded dragons typically have narrower tails. Female tails also taper sharply. Male bearded dragons have thicker tails at their base.

Though these differences are slightly visible in babies, they’re much more pronounced with age.

Some bearded dragon owners suggest looking at the size of the beardie’s head.

Male bearded dragons have broader skulls, but this is difficult to determine in a young bearded dragon and so isn’t reliable.

When Is It Possible to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Bearded Dragons?

When a baby bearded dragon is less than two months old, you will have a great deal of difficulty determining which are male or female. However, at eight weeks old, all bearded dragons look pretty similar.

Between eight and twelve weeks old, you can start sexing bearded dragons. Very experienced breeders and keepers will be pretty accurate from eight weeks old.

When a bearded dragon is young, they’re challenging to handle and keep still, too, which doesn’t help matters!

Moreover, they’re incredibly delicate, so it’s hard to sex them safely without ensuring you’re not causing pain or tail damage.

From three months of age, however, they will calm down somewhat, which makes sexing them easier.

If you still can’t sex your bearded dragon at 12 weeks or want to make sure, you can wait to check until they’re an adult (from about one year old).

This is because things like a male’s tail won’t thicken until puberty.

All of the physical signs: the male’s hemipenal bulges, more prominent and thicker heads, slightly wider tails, large femoral pores, and dark beards are much easier to spot from this age.

What Is the Difference between Male vs. Female Bearded Dragons?

Like many other creatures, including humans, male and female bearded dragons are sexually dimorphic. This means they differ physically from one another.

As mentioned, males have large femoral pores, two hemipenal bulges (instead of one), thicker tails, darker beards, and bigger head sizes than females.

These physical differences can be easily observed in adults by following our sexing steps above. However, aside from these biological differences, we can observe behavioral differences too.

Aggressive and Submissive Behaviors

Male beardies will be protective of their territory and exhibit dominant behavior. This behavior is displayed as stamping, hissing, head bobs, and beard fluffing.

Though females can exhibit a black beard, it is much more common in males.

Females will show their submission during the mating season by arm-waving.

Both males and females will exhibit digging behavior, but they will be digging holes for different reasons:

A male bearded dragon will dig a hole in preparation for brumation. In contrast, a female bearded dragon will typically dig to lay eggs. Of course, if you notice a beardie laying eggs, she can only be female!

Bearded dragon enthusiasts never recommend sexing a bearded dragon just based on their display of typically male or female behaviors.

Though behaviors are more frequent in specific genders, they’re not exclusive. Thus, it’s always better to use physical presentation alongside behaviors to determine your beardie’s gender.

Spikes and Underbelly of Female Bearded Dragon

Male vs. Female Bearded Dragon Spikes

Both male and female bearded dragons have spikes on their heads, throats, and beards. In their natural habitat, bearded dragon’s spikes are there to protect bearded dragons from predators and other beardies.

A beardie will puff their body, especially their beards, to stiffen their spikes and appear more threatening.

Though both genders have them, they use their spikes differently, too:

  • A male bearded dragon will present his spikes in mating season to show he is ready to mate.
  • A female bearded dragon will present her spikes when she is feeling threatened. When she wants to mate, she’ll do some arm-waving to appear submissive.

Don’t forget, to identify males and females quickly; you need a lot of experience doing this. Though we’ve listed all of the features in this article, it is a challenging process, and no two bearded dragons are the same.

Female differences can be hard to spot, especially if you’re only looking at one bearded dragon and don’t have another to compare it with!

Final Thoughts on Male Bearded Dragons vs. Female Bearded Dragons

Determining if your bearded dragon is male or female is never easy!

To generalize, a bearded dragon male will be generally bigger than a female; he will have a pair of hemipenal bulges rather than a single central bulge.

He will also have enlarged femoral pores and a larger head size. In addition, males present with a thicker tail than a female’s tail and will have a darker beard.

In terms of behavior, a male bearded dragon will display territorial aggression. He will be likelier to do head bobbing, beard fluffing, stamp, and hiss than his female counterpart.

Females, on the other hand, are more like to partake in arm-waving as a sign of submission.

So, why is sexing important?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve only got one pet. The way you care for male or female bearded dragons doesn’t change.

However, to house two bearded dragons together, you must know their sex.

This is for two reasons: two males cannot be together as they would be territorial and aggressive. One bearded dragon would end up being submissive and very stressed.

Usually, the larger bearded dragon will be the dominant one.

Secondly, if you want to house two beardies together and don’t want babies, you’ll need to know that you haven’t got male and female bearded dragons together.

For personal reasons, it’s also nice to know the sex of your bearded dragon so that you can name them correctly and use the proper pronouns (not that your beardie will mind, of course).

The final takeaway is this: the best way to sex your bearded dragon is to use the flashlight method.

If you see one dark shadow, your beardie is female. If you see two dark shadows, he’s male. This is the most ‘fail safe’ -, but it isn’t always easy to determine if you’re inexperienced.

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