Whether you’ve recently adopted a new bearded dragon (opens in new tab) or experienced the birth of a group of hatchlings, one thing is for sure, you’re probably at least a little curious about how to sex a bearded dragon!
And although a little bit tricky to figure out for new owners, determining the sex of a bearded dragon is actually quite easy if you know what to look for…
With several physical differences between males and females, you may be surprised to learn how even the most-subtle of physical traits can determine whether your pet is male OR female!
So, just keep reading to discover how to sex a bearded dragon AND tell their age!
How to Sex a Bearded Dragon
When it comes to how to sex a bearded dragon, you’re going to need to take note of several physical AND behavioral characteristics.
Identifying these characteristics will be the BEST (not to mention cheapest) way to discern your beardie’s gender – no expensive X-rays necessary!
So, if you’re curious about how to tell the gender of a bearded dragon, please consider the following…
How to Sex a Bearded Dragon Step #1: Look for Hemipenal Bulges
When it comes to how to tell the sex of a bearded dragon, you’re going to want to start by looking for any hemipenal bulges.
The Hemipenal bulges indicate the presence of a hemipenes, which are internal male sex organs often found in reptiles. In the case of a male bearded dragon, you will notice two hemipenal bulges above each side of the base of the bearded dragon’s tail.
If the bulges AREN’T super obvious, try gently turning your dragon from side to side to look for any shadowing.
Also, you can gently (and I mean GENTLY) raise the tail up a little to see if that helps the hemipenal bulges protrude a little more.
For a female, the bulge will be more centered, between the top of the tail and the tops of the back legs. A single, slightly protruding bump that is centered will indicate a female.
How to Sex a Bearded Dragon Step #2: Try the Flashlight Test
This next step in how to tell the sex of a bearded dragon simply expands on the previous step…
Basically, if you’re having trouble noticing/finding the hemipenal bulges, you can grab a flashlight and basically shine it through the dragon’s tail.
With a male, you should notice two elongated testes that make the shape of ‘U’ and with a female, it will be more of a box shape for her uterus.
Pretty cool, right?
How to Sex a Bearded Dragon Step #3: Look at the Size of the Femoral Pores
Femoral pores are glands that can be found on the inside thigh of specific species of lizards and amphibians.
In the case of bearded dragons, femoral pores are how they excrete pheromones, most commonly during their mating season.
And while both males AND females will have femoral pores, a male bearded dragon’s will tend to be much more pronounced and noticeable.
To locate the femoral pores, look on the underside of the legs. You’ll want to pay close attention to the underside of their thigh or above the knee, as femoral pores will run from knee to knee.
How to Sex a Bearded Dragon Step #4: Consider Their Behavior
Although not as accurate of a way to determine gender and definitely up for much speculation…
Some owners and specialists believe you can accurately depict a bearded dragon’s gender based on observing their behavior.
More than anything, if you’re wondering how to tell the sex of a bearded dragon, you’ll probably want to stick with the first 3 methods.
How to Sex a Baby Bearded Dragon
When it comes to how to sex a baby bearded dragon, the process isn’t quite as easy. You see, in order to determine a bearded dragon’s gender, you’ll need to wait until they’re at least 4 weeks old.
And sure, you can guess… but it’s honestly just a 50/50 chance of being right.
Now, some people claim you can tell the gender once a dragon reaches around 8 weeks old and this may be true under the right circumstances, such as when a reptile expert is involved.
However, typically you’re going to have to wait until 5 to 6 months to be able to make any reliable, educated guess at the gender.
Well, this is when a bearded dragon’s body started more clearly developing signs of the hemipenal bulges.
Now, you might be able to decipher the gender before 5 to 6 months, especially if you’re an experienced owner or breeder.
However, most first-time owners will be able to most clearly determine gender around the 6 month-mark, give or take a month.
Determining Bearded Dragon Age
Now, with all this talk of having to wait around 6 months to tell a baby bearded dragon’s age, you may find yourself wondering…
“How old is my bearded dragon?”
If this sounds like you, you can always get an estimate on age by looking at the total length of your beardie.
In fact, I’ve actually made a helpful infographic (above) to help you estimate your beardie’s age based on their length!
However, you can use more than a bearded dragon’s body length to get an idea of if they’re old enough to be sexed.
Ask yourself the following 2 questions to help determine if your bearded dragon is at least 6 months old and can be sexed…
1. Is your bearded dragon at least 10 inches long?
If so, there is a chance they could be 6 months old, seeing as this tends to be the shortest most HEALTHY 6 month dragons will measure.
Now, a better indication that your bearded dragon is at least 6 months old, is if they measure 14-15 inches. This is a more typical length for bearded dragons at this age.
2. Does your bearded dragon weigh at least 200 grams?
On the small side, bearded dragons at 6 months of age will tend to weigh at least 200 grams, give or take.
However, a healthier and larger bearded dragon will probably weight more like 230-260 grams at this age.
Please note that the weight and length criteria mentioned above are NOT concrete and there will naturally be bearded dragons that are these sizes well before 6 months or even much later.
However, these measurements are simply what you can expect from a 6-month-old bearded dragon.
Can Bearded Dragons Change Gender?
As a reptile owner and educator, it isn’t too uncommon for me to be asked about gender differences between certain species. And every once in awhile, I get asked about whether or not bearded dragons can change their gender.
As crazy as this might sound to some of you, the questions isn’t actually that weird at all!
You see, if you’ve bred reptiles before or have ever happened upon a special on them on the National Geographic channel, then you may already be familiar with temperature-dependent sex determination.
For those who aren’t already familiar, temperature-dependent sex determination is the idea that the sex of a reptile isn’t solely determined by chromosomes, but also by the temperatures in their environment during vulnerable stages of development.
In fact, scientists in Australia have even proven that by raising the temperature during incubation and turning what would otherwise be genetically functioning male bearded dragons into that of female bearded dragons.
So, to answer to the questions “Can bearded dragons change gender?” the answer is tentative one-sided “yes”.
Males can become female during early development BUT females cannot become males.
Should I Get a Male or Female Bearded Dragon?
If you’re on the hunt for a bearded dragon and find yourself wondering, “Should I get a male or a female bearded dragon?”, then just know this…
General day-to-day care will be the same for males and females. And while many will tell you males tend to have more personality, the MAIN differences you’ll see are due to the different reproductive organs, which can lead to females laying eggs and males acting frisky during mating season.
In terms of whether a female or male bearded dragon is right for you, it is wise to first educate yourself on the reproductive differences between the two.
You see, a female can become gravid without sex. This means that your sweet, little innocent female virgin beardie can STILL lay a clutch of eggs every year.
And should she need to lay her eggs? Well, you’ll need to take special precautions to ensure she’s healthy throughout the entire process and has what she needs to accomplish the task safely.
In regard to the male friskiness, you can expect your male bearded dragon to become more agitated and aggressive during mating season, typically around late spring and summer.
This agitation will result in extra head bobbing, black bearding, and even aggression. It may also result in him putting the moves on any nearby, unprotected socks, stuffed animals, or other vulnerable objects.
He may also have what’s called a “sperm plug” which you may need to soak him in a warm bath to help remove.
Wrapping Up how to Sex a Bearded Dragon
So, there you have it! These are just some of the ways you can determine the sex of your bearded dragon.
Now, bear in mind that visibility of hemipenal bulges and femoral pores, as well as the behavioral patterns, will vary from dragon to dragon… meaning the suggestions above won’t always hold true and as such, should be taken without somewhat of a grain of salt.
I hope that by now you not only know how to sex a bearded dragon, but also have an idea of perhaps which sex would work best for you (if you’ve yet to adopt!).