Are you excited about adopting a beardie? These spike charmers are extremely social, gentle, and friendly. Yep, they’re the perfect pet material for reptile lovers!
But before you bring one home, there’s a crucial decision that you need to make – should you get a male or female bearded dragon?
Will behavior differ between the male and female?
Will one be easier, cleaner, sweeter, or more fun to keep?
Coming up next, we’ll look at these differences. The details will help you pick a bearded dragon that fits your lifestyle and preferences like a glove.
Bearded dragons, whether male or female, make excellent pets. Males, however, are bigger in size, like to explore and show more personality. They are also more territorial and can get aggressive during the mating season. Females are thinner, more laid back, and submissive around an aggressive male.
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Should You Get A Male Or Female Bearded Dragon?
Bearded dragons, regardless of their gender, make amazing pets. They are gentle and barely ever bite. If you care for one well, a beardie will stick by your side for 8-10 years easily.
How are male beardies different than females? Let’s find out.
In terms of look, adult males will have thicker tails from the tail base to the tip, while the female’s tail size is more slender, thinning out toward the tip.
Males will generally have larger, wider, and more solid heads, while female bearded dragon heads are narrower and more pointed.
Male beardies will also have larger beards than their female counterparts.
Besides the difference in size, there will also be some distinct differences in behavior and temperament between the genders.
Boy beardies tend to be more outgoing, social, and active, but during mating season, they often exhibit aggressive behavior.
These kinds of aggressive mating behaviors include head bobbing and opening their mouths to appear more intimidating.
We have a post covering all the different mating behaviors of bearded dragons if you’d like to learn more about them.
Females will remain calm during mating season and engage in arm-waving behavior, a submissive behavior which reveals their vulnerable bellies in the process.
If you want to learn more about their temperaments here is our post dedicated to bearded dragon temperament that you’ll enjoy.
Keep in mind: female beardies also lay eggs—even if there is no male present and no bearded dragon mating has occurred.
If no male is involved, her eggs will be infertile.
Either way, if you adopt a female dragon, you’ll be responsible for extra care related to egg-laying, such as providing a nesting or hiding spot for her to do so.
There’s not really a “better” choice between male and female bearded dragons, just a few differences to note as you make your own decision about what works best for you.
How Can I Find Out A Bearded Dragon’s Sex?
The natural next question might be, how can you tell the difference between the genders to begin with?
We laid out a few visual differences earlier, but how can you be sure, on a more detailed level?
The best way to determine a beardie’s gender is to consult the hemipenal bulge.
These bulges represent the internal sex organs of the reptile.
They are located on the underside of the bearded dragon, near the back of their tail.
Males will have two distinct vertical bulges going vertically down the tail to the cloacal opening.
Females will have one smoother, less visible vertical bulge centered above the cloacal opening.
Be careful with tail lifting if you choose to use this method, as incorrect handling may cause pain, stress, or discomfort to your bearded dragon pet.
For easier detection of the hemipenal bulges, use a flashlight once you have the area exposed, aiming the light right where the tail meets the body.
Male beardies will also have wider cloacal openings than females, so additionally, consider this opening as a means of distinguishing gender.
This vent is the opening through which feces, urate, and eggs pass and is similarly located on the underside of a bearded dragon, near the tail base between their rear legs.
Lastly, attempt the femoral pores method for greater evidence of your lizard pet’s gender.
Femoral pores are located on the underside of bearded dragon bodies, sprinkled across the back of their thighs.
These small circles release pheromones during mating and other social engagements.
A male beardie will have much larger femoral pores than a female, and they will be more pronounced.
Femoral pores won’t be fully developed in baby bearded dragons, so this method won’t be effective on beardies less than 12 months of age.
In fact, sexing a bearded dragon period is very difficult, near impossible, when they are at a young age.
After at least 3 months of age, it will be easier to tell the difference between males and females.
Can Male and Female Beardies Live Together?
Bearded dragons are largely solitary reptiles and will do fine on their own.
But what if you want to get multiple pet lizards?
Can they handle tank mates, especially of the opposite sex?
Keep in mind: these guys are territorial reptiles.
Separate enclosures are recommended.
If you do house more than one beardie together, though, we urge you to follow these guidelines:
Provide a large enough habitat—the larger, the better—so each critter can have space for themselves.
A 125-gallon tank, at minimum, is recommended for housing more than one of these creatures.
Any tank roommates should be about the same size to avoid bigger dragons automatically becoming the more dominant dragons.
Never house adults or juveniles with hatchlings, as they can eat the fragile hatchling beardies on occasion.
Avoid putting two males in the same tank, as they will fight for dominance.
This infighting affects their access to food and proper UV rays, as stronger beardies will crowd out the weaker ones, keeping them from these resources and putting their health in danger.
Female dragons should not be housed with males until at least two years of age.
If you house a male and female together, they will mate come breeding season, and a female needs to be at least two years old for healthy breeding to occur.
Beardies of the opposite sex sharing the same tank will likely result in a pregnant female.
This means she will deliver fertile clutches of eggs, and you’ll need to be prepared for hatchlings.
Behavior in males during mating season is often especially aggressive, so for the safety of your female beardie, we’d encourage separating them during breeding times or at any time the male exhibits aggressive behavior.
While there are exceptions at times, especially if you are attempting to breed bearded dragons on purpose, overall, it is a risky idea to put a male and female together in the same enclosure.
What Else Should I Keep In Mind When Choosing A Bearded Dragon?
If you’re going to adopt a bearded dragon and house them alone, there’s not really a better or worse when it comes to choosing male or female—just preference.
But what other factors matter in the decision-making process?
Age is important.
Opt for a juvenile or adult rather than purchasing a hatchling.
The younger they are in these early stages, the greater the chance they won’t survive into adulthood.
They are incredibly fragile at the hatchling stage, and a lot can go wrong.
Think about where you’re going to purchase your new pet.
Pet stores are convenient and will provide a range of options, though employees won’t be able to tell you as much about each beardie as their breeders would.
If you go with a breeder, you’ll want to make sure they’re reputable before bringing them your business.
Check websites, read reviews, and do some research first.
The great thing about going to a breeder is they can tell you a lot about the dragon’s lineage, origin, health, and genes—all of which may inform your decision.
Reptile expos, if you’re able to attend, are also prime spots to look for a bearded dragon or to learn more about them.
There are usually lots of breeders at these events, so shop around and ask all your questions, though you may need to travel to get there.
Regardless, come prepared with a mode of transport (a carrier like this one works well) lined with a newspaper or paper towel.
And be sure your new pet’s home terrarium is all set up for their arrival!
Making the Right Choice: Male or Female Bearded Dragons as Pets
Adopting a bearded dragon is an exciting event, but you may have a lot of questions.
For example, should you adopt a male or female beardie?
Ultimately, the difference in gender is not a big deal, though there are some size and behavior differences to take into account.
Males are larger and more high-energy, while females tend to be smaller and calmer.
Females will also lay multiple clutches of eggs each year, whether or not they’ve mated first.
Bottom line: there’s no correct answer here!
When it comes to these beautiful reptiles, either a male or female will make a good pet.