How To Sex A Leopard Gecko

As a new leopard gecko owner, it may be difficult to tell the sex of your new reptile.

You’ll want to learn how to tell the sex, so you make sure you don’t accidentally end up with some leo babies! 

But it’s tough to do, so we did the research to help you out.

To sex a leopard gecko, you will look at its underside near the tail. Male leopard geckos will have visible preanal pores in a “V” shape and hemipenal bulges near the cloaca, along with large femoral pores along the hind limbs. Female leopard geckos do not have visible pores or bulges.

Read on to learn more about how to know if your leopard gecko is a male or female and why sexing leopard geckos is important.

how to sex a leopard gecko

How To Tell The Sex Of A Leopard Gecko In 4 Simple Ways

This section deals with the four best ways for how to tell if a leopard gecko is male or female for the typical owner.

Make sure to read carefully as some methods similar to these may result in injury for your pets.

#1 Check With The Breeder/Vet

The first is obvious: check with the breeder or a vet.

A vet will have the tools to help you if necessary.

They’ll also have the know-how to do this safely and without injuring your pet.

Breeders likely have this know-how as well, but they have an even bigger leg up on the vets in this instance.

The incubation temperature determines gender for leopard geckos.

Lower temps result in females, and higher ones result in males.

It’s simple to control, and your breeder most likely has a record of what they were bred at.

Here’s a quick table to help you out with this:

TemperatureGender Produced
79-81° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C)Females
85-87° degrees Fahrenheit (30° C).Both
88-91° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C)Males

This rule isn’t 100%, but it’s close.

Read more details on how to incubate leopard gecko eggs.

#2 Pre-Anal Pores

The most obvious way for sexing is to look at the pre-anal pores in older leopard geckos.

For this tactic, the gecko needs to be at least one year or older for a clear indication.

On the underside of their tails towards the end of their end is the vent or cloacal opening.

This is where the droppings come out.

Before this (closer to the head) is a V-shaped row of pores.

These pores release pheromones and other related body chemicals.

At adulthood, the male’s pores are larger and clearly seen.

They may even feel waxy to the touch.

Females have these pores, but they are so small compared to the males, you may not even notice them unless you’re looking for them.

As young leopard geckos, these pores are all small, so it’s hard to differentiate between males and females with this at a young age.

#3 Femoral Pores

Along the same lines are the pores on the back of the legs (or leg elbows, some call them).

For males, these pores are large circles, while the female has much smaller ones.

These pores are common for most reptiles and control a lot of the pheromones related to breeding.

Again, these pores on males become more prominent as they age, so it’s important not to use this with young leopard geckos.

#4 Hemipenal Bulge

Another way to sex your pet is to look for hemipenal bulges.

This is a key way for how to tell if leopard gecko is male or female.

Where the tail meets the body on the other side of the vent is where males have hemipenal bulges.

Essentially, these bulges store the two hemipenes the male will use in mating.

Gently handle the leopard gecko and lift their tail or look at their underside (if they lost their tail).

If you see two bulges on either side of the center, the leopard gecko is male.

This test starts to be useful as early as six months.

However, because you need to handle and pull on the tail a little, the chance of the gecko dropping its tail is higher.

We recommend just being patient and waiting until they’re older to use one of the others.

It may be helpful to shine a flashlight against the top of the gecko’s body.

This will let you “see” through their skin and look for two shadows, indicating the two hemipenal bulges.

Warning! It is possible to manipulate the bulges to “pop” the penes out.

This is a solid confirmation of the gecko’s sex, but this may result in serious injury if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

Things To Remember When Learning How To Tell Leopard Gecko Gender

Keep these ideas in mind as you go to sex your leopard gecko:

  • Wait until they’re at least six months old (1 year would be better).
  • Make sure you handle the gecko gently, or it may drop its tail*.
  • Use the femoral and pre-anal checks first. They are easier on the gecko.
  • If you need to handle them to find out, make sure the leopard geckos are tamed first. 

*Learn more about how to handle a leopard gecko regrowing its tail.

Why Is It Important To Know The Sex Of Your Leopard Gecko?

how to sex leopard geckos 2

Understanding the differences between a male and female leopard gecko goes beyond physical traits or leopard gecko breeding or choosing a name for your new pet.

There are several other considerations when choosing between a male or a female leopard gecko.

If you are planning to breed your geckos, it is crucial to ensure you have a male and a female.

Knowing the sex of your leopard gecko is also important because males and females display different behavioral characteristics.

There are also gender-specific health concerns for leopard geckos.

Housing and Temperament

Male leopard geckos tend to be more aggressive, and two males should never be housed in the same enclosure.

Female leos are more docile, and it is possible to house multiple females in the same tank as long as there is enough space for each of them.

A male and female gecko may be housed together for short periods of time during mating. 

Look for any signs of aggression between the pair, and separate them if necessary.

Lifespan

The lifespan of the two genders of leopard geckos is slightly different as well.

In captivity, females live for 6-10 years, while males live an average of 10-20 years.

Producing and laying eggs takes a significant toll on a female gecko’s body, and breeder females will usually have a shortened lifespan as a result.

Female Leopard Gecko Care

If a female leo is having difficulty laying her eggs, she will become egg-bound. 

Egg binding, also known as dystocia, occurs when a female gecko is not receiving the nutrients she needs for proper egg-laying.

Due to a lack of calcium, the female leo will not be able to have the contractions necessary to expel the eggs. 

The gecko may strain to lay the eggs, resulting in a cloacal prolapse.

Dystocia is a very serious issue, and you will need to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Male Leopard Gecko Care

Male leopard geckos may suffer from hemipenes prolapse due to impaction or infection.

The hemipenes are the small reproductive organs of a male leo, and they are usually not visible except during mating. 

Hemipenal prolapse happens when these organs do not retract back into the gecko’s body.

If your male leopard gecko is suffering from hemipenes prolapse, it is vital to seek veterinary care. 

Attempting to fix the prolapse yourself may cause injury to the gecko’s hemipenes.

Conclusion

Now you know how to sex a leopard gecko.

It’s not tricky once you learn about doing it safely for your pet.

The biggest mistake people make is attempting to sex them too early.

Remember, we recommend waiting until they’re at least six months old; it’s better to wait until they’re a year old.

Knowing your pet’s gender is fun, especially if you want to use a gender-specific name or begin breeding them.

Just take care to do this safely without stressing out your pet.

When in doubt, talk to a breeder or vet. These people know the best way to get it done.

Commonly Asked Questions

How long does it take for a leopard gecko to reach full size?

A baby leopard gecko will reach its full adult size between 18-24 months of age.

The average length of adult female leopard geckos is between 7-8” inches long, with males reaching sizes ranging from 8-11 inches.

Adult female leos usually weigh between 50-70 grams, while males are larger, weighing between 60-80 grams.

Do leopard geckos have sex chromosomes?

Leopard geckos do not have sex chromosomes.

The sex of a leopard gecko is determined by the temperature at which the eggs were incubated.

To produce male leos, incubate at a temperature range between 88-91° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).

To hatch females, incubate the eggs at cooler temperatures between 79-81° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).

For a chance of having both sexes, incubate the leopard gecko eggs at a steady temperature range of 85-87° degrees Fahrenheit (30° C).

Do leopard geckos retain sperm?

A female leopard gecko is capable of retaining sperm for up to nine months.

During this time, the gecko may produce up to six fertile clutches of eggs. 

The chance of having viable eggs decreases as more time passes.

After nine months, the female leopard gecko will need to mate with a male again to produce fertile eggs.