Did you get a new bearded dragon, but you’re not sure if it’s male or female?
Are you wondering what the significant differences are between male and female bearded dragons?
Though caring for male and female bearded dragons is the same, you should still know how to tell if a bearded dragon is male or female.
To tell if your bearded dragon is male or female, take a flashlight and shine light through the base of the tail from the top side. A male bearded dragon will have two visible hemipenal bulges, while a female bearded dragon will have a single center bulge.
There are some other significant differences between male and female bearded dragons you should know.
Read on for more details on sexing bearded dragons and understanding their differences.
4 Ways To Tell If Your Bearded Dragon Is Male Or Female
There are different ways to tell if your bearded dragon is male or female.
These different methods are used independently or together to figure out the sex of your bearded dragon.
And if you’re someone looking to get a bearded dragon and haven’t yet gotten one, we have a post on should you get a male or female bearded dragon you might find interesting.
#1 Hemipenal Bulges
This is the quickest and most effective way to tell if a beardy is male or female once they’re older than four weeks.
Before this point, there isn’t a noticeable difference in the genders, no matter what a pet store tells you.
On male bearded dragons, there are two hemipenal bulges or bumps underneath the tail near their anus.
These bulges are on each side of the underside of the tail.
On the other hand, female bearded dragons have only one hemipenal bulge or bump underneath their tail in the same location.
While male bumps are on the side, female bumps are located in the center of the underside of the tail near the anus.
To check using this method, start by holding your bearded dragon gently.
Make sure to hold it the right way and support its legs and tail completely.
And if you’re not entirely sure what “the right way” is, here’s a guide we wrote on how to pick up and handle bearded dragons.
Then, gently lift its tail a little and look underneath.
Depending on the bearded dragon, it may be hard to see at first.
If you can’t see the bumps, lift the tail a little more to stretch the skin to make the hemipenal bulges stand out a little more.
Careful not to lift too hard, or your reptile may get mad at you.
A mad bearded dragon is a stressed one, so if you’re not sure if your pet is angry or not, here’s a quick post on pissed off bearded dragons.
To see this method in action, check out this video on sexing a bearded dragon using the bump method.
Pro-tip: If you’re still having a hard time spying the bumps (which may happen if the bearded dragon is young or overweight), try the flashlight method.
#2 Flashlight Hemipenal Bulge Method
This method is the same as the first one with one big difference.
You use a flashlight to see the hemipenal bulges through the tail.
Start by turning off most or all of the lights.
Hold your bearded dragon and lift its tail slightly.
Using a flashlight, shine light through the top of the tail near where the tail connects to its body.
Look underneath, and you’ll be able to see the light through the tail.
But the hemipenal bulges will block some of this light, creating shadows.
If there are two shadows, then the bearded dragon is a male.
If there is only one centered shadow, then the bearded dragon is female.
#3 Femoral Pores
Femoral pores are seen as spots on the bottom of your bearded dragon’s hind legs.
The pores are where the bearded dragons excrete pheromones or chemicals that help communicate to other bearded dragons.
These pores are specifically used during times of mating.
Around one month after brumation, bearded dragons begin exuding pheromones from these pores to signal to other bearded dragons they’re ready to mate.
And real quick… did you know bearded dragons can go into brumation in the summer and not just the winter?
We have a post on bearded dragon summer brumation if it’s something you want to check out.
Both male and female bearded dragons have these pores, but they don’t look the same.
So this is what you’re looking for.
The pores are spots that go from knee to knee on the underside of their legs.
With male bearded dragons, these pores are much more visible because they’re larger, and their color is more pronounced.
The pores may still be visible with female bearded dragons, but they are smaller and more faded.
It’s easiest to use this method with pictures to reference male and female femoral pores if you’ve never seen them before.
Watching for certain behaviors will help you get a good guess on what gender a bearded dragon is.
While this method is far from fool-proof, experienced owners can use these behaviors to guess the sex of the beardy accurately and then confirm using the other methods above.
First, you need to understand some common bearded dragon behaviors and what they mean.
Black And Puffed Beard
On bearded dragons, the black puffed beard signifies stress and dominance.
This is usually when the beardy is threatened or when it comes across another bearded dragon in its territory.
Beardies with puffed beards are ready to defend themselves and their territory.
Here’s an excellent post going into more details on why bearded dragons puff up.
In nature, arm-waving is used in several ways.
The most common is a form of submission to a larger bearded dragon.
It’s also seen in females who are willing to mate.
Another time you may see this behavior in nature is when there are predators nearby.
Bearded dragons may use waving along with a color change to tell other beardies of the danger.
Hissing is less common, but it’s often seen along with a back, puffed beard. Hissing is a sign of threat from the beardy.
When it hisses, the bearded dragon may bite.
It only hisses when it feels threatened by a larger predator it can’t hide from or another bearded dragon of smaller size.
And in case your bearded dragon does bite you, we’ve written a post on what to do if a bearded dragon bites you that you’ll find helpful.
Head bobbing is a mix of submissive and aggressive behavior.
It’s present with either the passive arm waving or the threatening puffed beard.
Head bobbing is also a mating signal with both bearded dragons, although it’s more prevalent with the male beardy in this situation.
If your pet is bobbing a lot, here’s a quick post on the details of head bobbing in bearded dragons we wrote.
Knowing all this information on behavior, the skilled and observant beardy owner can take a reasonably accurate guess on the reptile’s sex by watching how it responds to you and other bearded dragons.
When spooked (if approached from behind), if the bearded dragon’s consistent reaction is to puff up its beard and turn black, then it’s most likely a male bearded dragon.
If the dragon is more prone to arm-waving when it sees you or other dragons of similar size, then it’s more likely a female bearded dragon.
Note: This method is the least accurate of the methods and relies on the experience and observation of the owner rather than the physiology of the reptile itself.
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Differences Between Male And Female Bearded Dragons
Besides the hemipenal bulges and femoral pores, there are some other differences in male and female bearded dragons you may find interesting.
Head Size And Shape
The head of the male bearded dragon is usually larger and thicker than the female bearded dragons.
The female head is thinner and smaller in size.
The male bearded dragon tail is thick from the point of the body until its tip.
The female beardy tail is much more slender.
It can still be thick where it connects to the reptile’s body, but the rest of the tail is consistently thinner compared to the male.
This physical feature is another good indicator of sex, but it doesn’t become entirely noticeable until the bearded dragon has reached full adulthood.
Use Of Spikes
Both male and female dragons have spikes around their heads and especially their beards.
But for male bearded dragons, they present these spikes most often when ready to mate.
They can offer them as part of a threat, but this is usually paired with black color, hissing, and mouth gaping.
Female bearded dragons are more likely to expand these spikes when they feel threatened and not when ready to mate.
For them, arm-waving is more common in mating.
Females share territory with other females and males if they are all around the same size.
Males don’t share space as well and exhibit dominant behavior.
NEVER put two males in the same enclosure.
You’ll also notice both male and female beardies dig holes.
But while the female’s holes are for laying eggs, the male uses his for brumation.
If your pet is doing this often, here’s a post we’ve written going into more details behind the behavior of bearded dragons digging.
Now you know how to tell if a bearded dragon is male or female.
This knowledge is more than just an interesting fact; it can change the way you build homes for your bearded dragon.
Even if a pet store tells you the gender of your dragon, it’s essential to check it on your own as well.
This is especially true if you plan on cohabitating bearded dragons.
Having bearded dragons share spaces is possible, but it isn’t recommended.
And if you plan on having another bearded dragon or any other creature live with your lizard, please read our post on what can live with a bearded dragon.