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Male Vs Female Bearded Dragon [What’s the Difference?]

When you’re thinking about getting a bearded dragon, one thing to consider is the gender of potential pets. There aren’t many differences between male vs female bearded dragons, but the few differences that are there should be considered when making your decision.

Unless you’re experienced with dragons, you’ll need to depend on the seller to tell you which is which. This is another reason to deal with pet stores or breeders with good reputations.

The main difference is the male is larger and longer, males also have bigger heads, tails and their beard are usually much darker. Knowing the difference is important as you don’t want to put two males in the same enclosure.

Which is Better a Male or Female Bearded Dragon?

In terms of caring for one, there is no real difference between keeping a male vs a female bearded dragon. Whether you choose one over the other really boils down to preference.

Males tend to have larger beards and be more likely to puff out and darken their beards when upset, which makes them more attractive to some people. Many people believe that males are more outgoing and have more personality, but that’s not written in stone. Since they can be a bit livelier, males may give you a bit more in the way of escape problems.

Males tend to be more restless during mating season and a bit more aggressive at that time. Their territorial instinct also makes it a bad idea to try to keep two males in the same enclosure or even next to each other if they can see each other. They may try to get at each other and hurt themselves on the side of the enclosures, depending on what the sides of the enclosure are made from.

Females tend to be calmer in general. The most aggressive move they make during mating season is waving their arms to signal that they’re in the mood. They may also do some head bobbing.

If you are thinking about possibly breeding dragons at some time in the future, you might well choose a female first. You can always get a male later on when you decide to get serious about breeding.

How to Tell the Difference Between Male and Female Bearded Dragons?

If you’re considering buying a young dragon, you may not be experienced enough to answer the male vs female bearded dragon question. While it is possible to tell the difference once a dragon gets to be two or three months old, the telltale differences are much easier to distinguish once the reptile reaches adulthood at a year old or older.

If you put adult male and female dragons’ side by side, it may be obvious if the two are the same age, as the male will be longer than the female. He will also have a broader, longer head and will appear to be beefier than the female. The male’s tail will usually be thicker at the base and along its entire length than the females, but this difference isn’t readily apparent until adulthood.

Another way is to examine the femoral pores on the underside of the dragon. These pores appear in adults going across the hind legs and look like tiny, round, dark spots. They are there to release scent or pheromones to attract mates or to mark territory. Several species of reptiles have these pores, including iguanas and bearded dragons.

A male beardie will have much larger, more visible pores than a female. In some cases, it’s hard to even see the pores on a particular female. These pores need to be checked periodically anyway, as they can get plugged up and impacted or infected.

Experienced breeders usually determine the gender by examining the hemipenile bulges. Put your beardie adult flat on his belly, and gently raise the tail until it’s at about a 90-degree angle. Do this slowly and don’t raise it too high or you might risk damaging the tail.

Unless the dragon is used to being handled, he probably won’t like this procedure. Look at the base of the tail, right above the vent. If you see two bulges, one on either side of the base of the tail, it’s a male. A female will have one bulge that is closer to the center of the tail’s base.

Another method is to darken the room, then aim a flashlight at the base of the tail from the top. You’ll be able to see the light shine through the tail. You’ll see two dark areas near the base of the tail on either side if the dragon is a male, one dark shape nearer the center if it is a female.

The bearded dragon’s beard also features a difference. It is usually darker and larger in the male than in the female, especially during mating season. Behaviors are also different. For instance, head bobbing, and beard puffing are more often seen in male dragons. So are behaviors such as stomping and hissing.

Females are more submissive. Their telltale behavior is arm-waving, which is a sign of submission or signals that they’re in the mood for male company. This isn’t definitive, however, as some males may wave their arms and females bob their heads as well, although not as often.

Are Female Bearded Dragons Less Aggressive?

Females tend to be less aggressive and calmer in general. They may not, however, take to having another bearding in their enclosures either, even if you are trying to keep two females together. It depends largely on the individuals involved. Generally speaking, beardies just don’t usually take to having roommates except for breeding periods.

Males are not aggressive all the time, but they tend to be more lively. Aggressiveness usually is shown when a male sees another male, especially during mating season, as they are territorial in nature.

They also can show aggressive warning traits such as puffing and darkening their beards, head bobbing, opening the mouth as if to bite, and hissing when they feel threatened. This can happen at unusual times, as when a human hand suddenly descends into an enclosure from above without warning and the dragon is startled.

Do Female Bearded Dragons Have Periods?

Female dragons do not have periods as we think of them. They do go through a breeding season, usually during the summer months once they reach adulthood. Breeders will often provide what’s known as a brumation period, which is a slowing down period that occurs during their natural winter. It’s not like hibernation, however. This occurs before the mating period begins.

For breeding purposes, a male and female can usually live together during the breeding season if they are about the same size, and they get along. A smaller male might be intimidated by the female, while a smaller female could be injured during breeding itself and just in general.

Even with this in mind, you’ll have to keep an eye on the situation, however. If the female isn’t interested in the male, he might chase her around the enclosure and get rough with her. In any case, neither will be happy. Like with any two particular individuals, they just might not get along.

Females will lay eggs whether there is a male around or not during mating season. Eggs produced without the company of a male will be infertile. Either way, a dragon holding eggs will sleep more and will gradually exhibit a swelling belly. She’ll start to try to dig in her enclosure, looking for a place to lay her eggs.

She’ll need a small container filled with clean, moist soil or vermiculite for her eggs. This should be placed under her heat lamp. She may dig a few holes before she’s happy with one.

Dragons lay anywhere from 15 to 20 eggs at a time. They can lay several clutches of eggs in the four-month mating season. When your female is carrying eggs, whether they are fertile or not, you’ll need to feed her more calcium as well as more food than usual in general until she’s finished laying eggs for the season.

Afterward, she’s not going to set on the eggs like a chicken, but she’ll be tired and thirsty. Give her about an hour, then offer some water. You may need to wash off the dirt as well. After another hour or so, offer some insects. Don’t be upset if she doesn’t seem interested, as some mothers eat like they’re starved while others take several hours to get hungry. Feed smaller, more frequent meals for a couple of days while she recovers.

When a female is laying eggs, she needs to be watched for possible egg impaction. This happens when the eggs stick together and clog up the pathway, necessitating possible surgery.

It can happen whether the eggs are fertile or not. If your dragon hasn’t laid eggs within a month after you first noticed that she’s been carrying them, she needs to get to a veterinarian. Watch for frantic behavior while trying to lay them or a female that’s listless and even unresponsive when holding eggs overlong.

Do Male or Female Bearded Dragons Get Bigger?

In terms of size with male vs female bearded dragons, the male will often be larger than the female. His head will usually be longer and broader. After he reaches adulthood, his tail will also be noticeably longer and thicker. Females tend to have more slender, tapered tails.

Conclusion

Choosing a dragon involves several factors: age of a potential pet, color, and male vs female bearded dragon. It also involves your experience or lack thereof concerning keeping reptiles and educating yourself as to what’s involved in their care and keeping one happy. Take your time learning what you need to so you can make a better decision and be a better owner instead of going into a pet store on a whim saying, “Why don’t we get one of these?”