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 beardies is the same, you should still know how to sex a bearded dragon.
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 beardy 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 how to sex bearded dragons and understand their differences.
Table of Contents
5 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 beardy.
These mentioned ways are more suitable for adult bearded dragons. They have properly developed their physical features, so it’s easier to distinguish.
If you want to sex a baby bearded dragon, you’ll have to take a different approach. We’ll touch upon that later in this article.
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, a female bearded dragon has 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 beardy 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 your bearded dragon’s 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 injured or stressed.
Inappropriate handling can also annoy your pet dragon. Even worse, your reptile may drop its tail.
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 beardies 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, beardies begin exuding pheromones from these pores to signal to other 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 beardies 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 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.
#4 Cloacal Opening
A cloacal opening is where your reptile poops, pees, and lays its eggs. It’s between your beardy’s rear legs, under its tail.
The opening is a slit (also known as a vent), just like a bird or lizard uses for the same purposes.
Your male lizard will have a wider vent as compared to the female. Males must age and mature to get a wider cloacal opening. That’s when you’ll see the greater width kicking in.
Don’t use this method on baby beardies; it won’t work unless they turn a year old.
Watching for certain behaviors will help you get a good guess on what gender a beardy 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 beardy 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.
Males are more likely to display puffed-up black beards.
Here’s an excellent post going into more details on why bearded dragons puff up.
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 lizard 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.
Since male beardies are more protective and aggressive, hissing is more their thing.
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.
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.
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 Female and Male Bearded Dragons
Besides the hemipenal bulges and femoral pores, there are some other differences in male and female bearded dragons you may find interesting.
To tell a bearded dragon’s gender, look at its size.
If your pet lizard is longer, you have a male. If it’s shorter, it’s female.
A male beardy can grow up to 24 inches long on average. A female, on the other hand, only gets as big as 19 inches.
Their bigger size gives males an edge when it’s time for mating, fighting off other beardies, and looking for food!
Males are also heavier. They can weigh up to 500 grams. Females usually weigh between 450-500 grams.
Head Size And Shape
The head of male bearded dragons 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.
How to Sex a Baby Bearded Dragon?
It can be really tricky to sex a baby beardy. As we mentioned earlier, they don’t exhibit gender-specific features until they are a bit older.
However, if you still want to make an educated guess, look at their tail size and hemipenal bulges.
Female bearded dragons tend to have thinner tails as compared to males.
Males will also have two distinct bulges at the base of their tails, which are absent in females.
But again, this is not a fool-proof method and might be difficult to determine until your dragon has grown larger.
If you want to be absolutely sure of your dragon’s gender, it’s best to wait until they are at least 12 weeks old.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Female Better Than a Male Beardy?
Bearded dragons make great pets. They are friendly, low maintenance, and have unique personalities.
If you get a male, you’ll have a sociable lizard with anger issues. Females are calm, but get one only if you’re prepared to care for her eggs.
In the end, it’s all about your personal preference.
Do Male and Female Beardies Require Different Care?
No, male and female bearded dragons require the same care.
The only difference is that females will need extra calcium supplements during the egg-laying season to prevent metabolic bone disease. You can dust their food with calcium powder two to three times a week.
How Many Bearded Dragons Can Live Together?
Ideally, you should keep only one beardy per enclosure. Never put two males together, as they are territorial and may fight.
If you’re pairing up a male with a female lizard, wait till the female is two years old.
Gender Confusion Sorted – Wrapping Up
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.
Did you find the information in this article helpful?
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