Being an animal lover, you may prefer bearded dragons as your pet. Your love for them is quite obvious as they are peaceful reptiles and loyal companions to live with. If you want a bearded dragon as your pet, then the question “How to determine the sex of the dragon?” may come to your mind. Let us guide you properly about this complexity. There lie several ways to differentiate a male dragon from a female dragon.
How to Determine the Sex of the Bearded Dragon?
“Am I having a male dragon or a female dragon?” This might be the first question in your mind after keeping a bearded dragon as your pet. If the bearded dragon's lifespan is more than 12 months, then it will be quite obvious and easier for you to determine the sex of your dragon. The reason lies in the fact that older bearded dragons have quite developed characteristics. These features clearly define them as a female or a male. The problem lies when the bearded dragon's lifespan is less than 4-6 months. This age is considered as their childhood with no proper development of the primary or secondary sex characteristics. So, at this level, you cannot differentiate the sex of your dragon properly as a newbie.
Let's learn some ways of differentiating between a male and a female dragon.
Starting from the very basics, there are 5 top globally known methods to determine the sex of bearded dragons.
1: Look For The Hemipenal Bulges
This is the easiest and most broadly used technique. Looking for the hemipenes bulges clearly depicts the sex of the dragon. Bulges present on the underside of the body of the dragon show the presence of hemipenes. Hemipenes are the inner sex organs of the male bearded dragon. When we talk about the location of these bulges, they are present on the underside of the dragon towards the back of its tail.
There are a few steps that must be considered to inspect the presence of hemipenes bulges in bearded dragons:
- Help your dragon adapt to its environment. Bearded dragon habitatsmust be settled in a suitable manner for better adaptation and adjustment.
- Let the dragon get comfortable with you and its surroundings. The comfort level of the dragon must be achieved for scrutiny of the bulges.
- The dragon must be in an appropriate posture before the inspection. The bearded dragon habitat must have a solid slab. Rest the dragon on the clean slab or pick it up in your hand by applying gentle pressure on the thoracic region. Rest the body against your palm. Your thumb must be on its shoulder blades for better grip. All the legs must be in your fingers. Avoid picking it up from the neck region.
- Lift the caudal part of the tail upward. The angle must not exceed 90 degrees. By lifting the tail, the base of the tail will stretch around the sex gland. This will clearly show the presence or absence of the hemipenes bulges. One thing that must be kept in mind before doing this step is not to lift the dragon by the tip of the tail. It can cause damage or breakage to the tail that would not be feasible.
- Now, look for the presence or absence of the outline of the bulge.
The male dragon will have two vertically running grooves from the base of the tail to the cloacal opening. Female dragons will have a single vertical bulge in the center above the cloacal opening. The female bulge will be quite smooth and less prominent as compared to the male dragon.
2: The Flashlight Method
The flashlight method is almost the same method as mentioned above. The only difference is the use of a flashlight for proper scrutiny of the sex organs. This method is much more feasible and authentic. Using a flashlight to look for the sex organs makes them look more prominent and clear. People are having bearded dragons usually prefer this method for better inspection of the hemipenes bulges.
The procedure involved in this method is almost the same as mentioned above.
- Grasp the dragon in one of your hands or rest it against a smooth slab present in the bearded dragon habitat.
- Using your other hand, lift the base of the tail, and the angle must not exceed 90 degrees.
- Shine the flashlight at the base of the tail from the upper side.
- One thing you must keep in mind is to keep the flashlight right on the base of the tail where the tail meets the body.
- Now, look from the back of your bearded dragon's tail.
If the hemipenes bulges are present, they will glow slightly red against the dark room with one or two shadows within the base of the tail. Male dragons have two shadows or dark bulges, while female dragons have only one in the center. This will clearly differentiate whether the bearded dragon is male or female.
3: The Cloacal Opening
A cloacal opening can be used as a measure for the differentiation of the gender of the bearded dragon. It is the opening present between the rear legs and the underside of the body. It is used for passing eggs, urine, and feces in dragons. Sex determination can be done by the fact that males have a wider opening as compared to females.
4: Behaviour During Sex
This is the least effective way of differentiating between the two sexes of bearded dragons. The behavior of both the male and the female dragon before or during sex is quite different. Noting the difference in their behavior can be used to determine their gender.
Males start acting quite dominating and aggressive. They start hissing and stomping. Males prefer bobbing their heads and fluffing their beards. The purpose of this behavior is to make themselves look stronger, bigger, and more threatening.
Females show submissive behavior comparatively. They do this by waving their arms as a sign of submission.
Arm waving is usually associated with female behavior, but males can also sometimes do this. Similarly, some females show signs of aggression and dominance. So, it gets difficult to differentiate between the two sexes by using this method.
5: Femoral Pores And Size
Femoral pores and their sizes can be used as an effective method to differentiate between the two sexes. But there lies a con in this method. This method can only be used when the two genders are present in one place, and you have to differentiate between the two.
Femoral pores are on the underside of the back legs of the bearded dragon. They are used to secrete pheromones. A healthy bearded dragon has tiny circular femoral pores running across its thighs. The size of the femoral pores basically determines the gender of the dragon.
Males have larger femoral pores as compared to females. They are more prominent and distinct. There lies no effective method of measuring the size of the pores as they are quite small. Only the relative size and texture of both genders can be compared and thus can be used to differentiate between the two genders.
One thing you must keep in mind is that these pores are fully developed by the age of 12 months. At the age of 4-6 months, this method cannot be used for sex determination.
Determination of the Sex of the Baby Bearded Dragon
If you think that you can identify the sex of the bearded dragon at the time of its birth, then you might be wrong. Practically, it is not possible to determine the gender of the dragon at the time of its delivery. You must have to wait 8-12 weeks for the gender determination. At this age, you can use the flashlight method to look for the presence of bulges.
Another method that can be used at this age is to check the tail of the bearded dragon. A female dragon has a narrow and tapered tail. Males have quite thicker tails.
Males have wider heads as compared to females. Thus, we can differentiate by comparing the sizes of the head.
We have discussed the methods of differentiation of the sex of the dragons. Now, you can easily differentiate the sex of the male and female bearded dragon if you determine the presence of hemipenes bulges in their underside region. Flashlights can be used for further clearance. Femoral pores and their sizes, determination of change in behavior before sex, and size of the cloacal opening can also help in the differentiation of the gender of the bearded dragon. Hope you enjoy reading this article, and feel free to ask in case of any queries.