How should you determine your crested gecko’s sex?
How old should your lizard be before you attempt to sex them?
You’ve just adopted a crested gecko, and you’re not sure if they’re a male or a female.
Perhaps you want the perfect name for your new pet, or maybe you want to know if your gecko will lay eggs in the future.
Let’s explore your options and the steps you should take to safely determine your crested gecko’s sex.
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How To Tell If A Crested Gecko Is Male Or Female
To accurately determine your gecko’s sex, you will have to carefully analyze their preanal pores, cloacal spurs, hemipenal bulges, and overall body length and size. It is best to wait until your gecko reaches sexual maturity at around 1 year of age to be as accurate as possible.
If you’re lucky, the breeder or pet shop you purchased the lizard from will be able to tell you the gecko’s sex or at least make a rough guess.
If they aren’t sure, you should wait until they are around 1 year old, or between 8 and 16 grams in weight, to figure out their sex on your own.
If you aren’t able to reliably determine their sex, either, you could potentially ask your veterinarian or a reputable reptile breeder for a second opinion.
There is no one surefire way to simply glance at your crested gecko and immediately know their sex, as plenty of variation exists amongst male and female lizards.
For example, while all males do have preanal pores, many females also display them prominently.
Also, cloacal spurs are present in both sexes; even though, in general, males have larger than normal spurs.
Overall, size is not a reliable indicator on its own, either, as females often grow to be just as large as males.
You or a reptile expert will have to closely examine your gecko to make the most educated guess about their sex.
The older your lizard, the easier this process is, so while you are probably anxious to know your lizard’s sex early on, it is best to wait until they reach sexual maturity to know for sure.
Will My Breeder or Pet Shop Know My Gecko’s Sex?
In some cases, the breeder or pet store you purchased the animal from will already know if the gecko is male or female.
Before you pick up your gecko and start looking for pores or spurs, you should first contact the previous owner or seller and ask them if they have either the lizard’s sex or hatching date available to them.
There is a possibility the breeder or pet shop will only know the gecko’s hatching date.
If this is the case, you will still be able to use this information to your advantage.
If you know when your gecko hatched, you will be able to determine their age.
By referring to their age, you will be able to track when they are nearing sexual maturity and also know how reliable the methods you are using are when figuring out your lizard’s sex.
Unfortunately, this information isn’t always readily available to pet shops and even some breeders.
If the previous owner isn’t sure of the gecko’s age or sex, don’t fret.
You will still be able to refer to the gecko’s size and biology to roughly estimate their age and sex.
Should a Veterinarian Determine My Gecko’s Sex?
It is always a good idea to ask your reptile veterinarian for their opinion on anything you aren’t sure about regarding your pet’s health, including whether or not your gecko is male or female.
Many less experienced crested gecko owners simply don’t feel they can accurately gauge their gecko’s sex just by looking at them, and your vet will understand and appreciate you coming to them for guidance.
Also, getting a second or even third opinion will help you determine the gender of your gecko as reliably as possible.
If you’ve examined their pores, spurs, and bulge and still are on the fence, get in touch with experts near you and ask them to take a look for themselves.
When Should I Sex My Crested Gecko?
You certainly could look at any hatchling gecko and find evidence of a bulge or preanal pores, but babies tend to look the same regardless of whether they are male or female.
In general, the larger and older your gecko is, the more accurately you will be able to discern their sex.
Measure your gecko’s current weight to decide if they are large enough for you to accurately determine their sex yet.
The standard weight for an adult crested gecko is around 50 grams, but you will probably be able to sex your gecko when they are much smaller.
When crested gecko babies reach around 2-4 months of age, they start to display differences in pore, spur, and bulge size.
While it is possible to make a rough guess about their sex at this age, it is best to wait until they are at least 6 months old or at least 10 grams in weight to know for sure.
When your gecko reaches a sexable weight, you will have much less difficulty handling them and getting a closer look at the area around their vent than if you were to attempt this with a hatchling.
By the time they reach sexual maturity at anywhere from 9 months to 1.5 years of age, you will be able to tell with certainty if they are male or female.
Upon reaching sexual maturity, the differences between male and female geckos are most prominent, and even novice reptile keepers can sex them.
Characteristics To Look For When Sexing Your Crested Gecko
There is, unfortunately, no single way to tell with absolute certainty if your gecko is male or female.
Rather, you will have to closely examine your lizard and take several factors into account to make an educated guess.
The main four characteristics you will be analyzing when sexing your gecko are as follows:
Male geckos have a line of very large, pronounced preanal pores above their vents which stretch across their bellies and hind legs.
These pores look like small, shiny dots in the centers of their scales.
Females have definite pores, too, but female preanal pores are typically much smaller and fewer in number.
The appearance of your gecko’s pores should not be used as the primary determinant of sex because pore size and number vary amongst male and female geckos.
Your gecko’s cloacal spurs are two white pointy projections, almost like spikes, protruding from their bulge underneath their vent.
Males generally have larger spurs with a more prominent appearance, but female crested geckos display them too.
The appearance of spurs alone is not an accurate indicator of sex.
Again, you should take spur size into account, but it should not be the only factor you consider when sexing your gecko.
Bulge size and appearance.
As your crested gecko reaches sexual maturity, it will develop a distinct bulge below its vent.
Males, of course, usually have larger bulges than females of their species, but this is not always the case.
Some females have fairly large bulges, too.
This is another factor you should take into consideration, along with the gecko’s other features.
Overall body size and length.
While there is considerable variation in size amongst male and female crested geckos, males tend to be larger and have broader heads.
See our crested gecko size guide.
Also, females usually weigh less overall than males.
However, it is not uncommon for female geckos to grow to large sizes as well, and overweight female geckos are often mistaken for males.
See our post on common causes of overweight crested geckos.
Always take each of these factors into account when sexing your crested gecko.
You probably won’t be able to immediately tell with 100% certainty whether your lizard is male or female.
Still, by closely observing each of these qualities, you will have an accurate method to discern your gecko’s sex.
Crested geckos are quite hardy reptiles, but you should still be gentle while handling them.
Again, if you aren’t sure, get another opinion from a reptile expert or veterinarian.
They will be able to inform you of your gecko’s exact gender more definitively than if you were to attempt to figure it out alone.
If you’re particularly desperate, you could even visit a crested gecko forum online and ask other crested gecko owners their opinion.
Using A Crested Jeweler’s Loupe To Sex Your Gecko
A jewelers loupe is a small magnifying device used to examine objects – in this case, your lizard – more closely.
They are cheaply and easily purchased from various retailers such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, and jewelry-making shops.
The JARLINK 30X 60X jeweler’s loupe is an excellent choice, but you could potentially purchase a more expensive model if you want a more durable loupe with higher magnification ability.
If you wanted to save money, you could also go with a magnifying glass and a flashlight.
Even adult crested geckos are fairly small lizards, and getting a close look at their preanal pores and cloacal spurs is difficult without additional magnification.
A jeweler’s loupe, or even an illuminated magnifying glass, is perfect for sexing your gecko as accurately and easily as possible, particularly if you have a skittish gecko who isn’t too keen on letting you examine its reproductive organs up close.
A crested gecko bite is painful, so handle your lizard carefully.
Stressed crested geckos usually emit a hissing sound, so if you hear your gecko vocalizing, it is probably time to put them back in their terrarium and give them a break to prevent any risk of injury while sexing them.
Determining the sex of your crested gecko is a rather complex process and cannot be reliably discerned at a glance.
The older your gecko is, the easier it will be for you to accurately tell if they are male or female.
It is also helpful to get additional opinions from reptile experts or veterinarians when sexing your gecko to be as sure as possible.
While figuring out the sex of your crested gecko is not as simple as looking at any one single characteristic, by taking multiple features into account, you will quickly be able to tell if your new pet is male or female.