How To Sex A Chameleon

Are you a curious owner who wants to know your Chameleon’s gender?

Do you want to get into breeding but need to make sure you know your Chameleon’s sex?

Breeders and pet stores should be able to tell you what gender your pet is, but this isn’t always the case.

Even with this, they sometimes make mistakes, and it’s very difficult to tell gender with young Chameleons.

But you don’t need them to help you.

It’s useful to know how to sex a Chameleon for yourself.

Telling a Chameleon’s gender isn’t too difficult when they’re adults. Look underneath their tails for the hemi-penal bulges. In general, males tend to be slightly larger than females, have more ridges or horns where applicable, and exhibit brighter colors. It’s very difficult to tell the gender of a Chameleon before it’s an adult.

Check out the rest of the article for more details and different strategies on how to tell Chameleon’s sex.

how to sex a chameleon
Image Credit: Terry Lipka

Method 1: Look For Hemi-Penal Bulge

As with most lizards, it’s easiest to tell the gender of a Chameleon by its hemi-penal bulge.

When your Chameleon is an adult, usually around 12 months of age, gently lift up the tail of the Chameleon.

Look where the base of the tail meets the body of the Chameleon.

With males, you’ll see a single bulge in the center of the tail.

This is where their hemi penis and reproductive organs are stored.

On females, you won’t see this.

You should still avoid handling the Chameleon as much as possible, but some minor handling, as long as you do it gently, will be fine.

If you’re having trouble seeing this bulge, it’s always possible to do the flashlight test.

Take a small flashlight and shine it through the tail pointing towards you.

You’ll often see a shadow we outline where the hemipenis will be.

This may make it a little easier to see if you’re a Chameleon as a young adult.

This tends to be the most foolproof and accurate method for sexing a Chameleon.

But remember, even this test is difficult to do when the Chameleon is still in its juvenile stage.

Just wait until your pet is around 12 months old, and you’ll be able to tell the gender pretty easily yourself.

Method 2: Size

Once a Chameleon has reached adulthood, it’s possible to tell the gender by their size with some species.

In general, males will be longer and weigh more than their female counterparts.

With some Chameleon species, the size ranges may overlap.

In this case, it’s not accurate to tell the gender of a Chameleon completely by the size.

You’ll need to combine it with a different method for confirmation.

For more about Chameleon size and weight, check out these related articles:

Note: There are some Chameleon species where the male and female are the exact same size.

Make sure you do some more specific research on your Chameleon species if using the size method.

Method 3: External Features

With many Chameleon species (but not all), it’s possible to tell the sex of a Chameleon by some of its unique external features.

This is usually done by looking at the ridges and horns of the Chameleon.

If the Chameleon species has horns which are bumps on his forehead and head area, the male will have either more horns or larger horns compared to the female which, in some cases, will have no horns at all.

Ridges are bumps along the back and spine of the Chameleon.

In some cases, these bumps also appear on the legs of the Chameleon.

With most species, males will have larger ridges over their bodies compared to females who have smaller ones or none at all.

Be careful with this method though as some Chameleon species have no horns at all while others have male and female ridges and horns of the same size.

Method 4: Observe Their Color

Chameleons come in a wide variety of colors depending on their species.

They also change colors to communicate stress levels and other factors.

Looking at the color scheme of the Chameleon is another way to sex a Chameleon.

This also depends on the species of your pet, so this method is best done in conjunction with some study on what Chameleons of your Chameleon species look like.

Males tend to have brighter and more vivid colors.

When you think of a beautiful Chameleon, it’s male most of the time.

Females tend to have muted colors which blend into each other.

Most of the time, the colors edge towards the brown and green in the spectrum.

However, when a female is getting ready to mate, these colors will brighten up considerably.

Learn more about how to breed Chameleons.

As with all the sexing methods, young baby and juvenile Chameleons don’t exhibit their colors fully, so it’s difficult to sex them by color at such a young age.

Again, you’ll need to wait until they’re fully grown.

Method 5: Go To The Vet

This one may seem obvious, but there’s no better way to know exactly what sex your Chameleon is other than going to a vet or breeder.

They have the tools and knowledge necessary to help get the most accurate read on your Chameleon.

However, even these people may have a hard time sexing a Chameleon in its juvenile stage.

You may just have to wait until their adults to tell the difference.

You should be able to sex any Chameleon species without much difficulty when they reach adulthood.

The main exception is the Meller’s Chameleon.

This species is essentially identical, even the hemi-penal bulge test is difficult to do.

You may just have to wait and see if your Chameleon lays eggs or not.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about how to sex a Chameleon.

Look for the bulge underneath the tail to tell if the Chameleon is mail and if it’s not there it’s female.

Look for confirmation by checking the size and external features of the Chameleon.

Worse comes to worst, just go check with an exotic vet or breeder.

Spend Less Time Figuring Out What To Do And More Time Enjoying Your Pet

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