Bearded dragon gender – male or female
Determining the gender or sex of your bearded dragon is vital if you want to breed them. While it is challenging to do so in baby and juvenile beardies, you can do it once they reach sexual maturity. Here is how to tell if your beardie is a male or female.
1. Consider their size
Males are more massive, longer, and more robust with broader darker heads and thicker tail bases when compared with females that have smaller heads, and slender tails that taper.
2. Check for hemipenal bulge
In males, the thicker tail base houses the hemipenes while females don’t hemipenes except for a single bump closer to the center of their tail.
To confirm, check for the presence of hemipenal bulges located at the base of the tail on either side just before their cloaca (vent). Raising their tails or letting them lie of their back will help you see two bumps and a dent in the middle.
Also, flashing a spotlight from the back of their tail and looking at them from the lower side may help you see these hemipenal bulges. Their presence positively indicates that your bearded dragon is male.
3. Femoral pores
Once they reach their adulthood, they develop femoral pores (waxy bumps) located across their hind legs. Males have more visible, and large ones, as opposed to females, who have small ones, which are hard to see at times.
4. Behavioral consideration
By observing their behavior, animal behavioralists can intelligently guess the gender of this lizard. Males tend to display their beard, head bob, and so on more often than females.
Mating and Breeding
Usually, bearded dragons attain sexual maturity when they are aged 1 and 2 years. Their growth rate and influences the exact time when mature sexually. As they approach sexual maturity, males become more aggressive and display dominance by beard inflation.
Mating often occurs after winter or brumation. You can initiate brumation by dropping their basking temperature and duration of daylights. Once they stop eating, you can begin the winter cooling for 6-8 weeks. Afterward, begin to restore typical temperature and lighting gradually. After they wake up from brumation, they will breed.
Copulation or mating only occurs after the male has to shown dominance, and the female has conceded, especially after brumation. It begins with courtship rituals that involve the male feet stomping, head bobbing, and arm waving while it is in front of a female.
Afterward, the male will chase the female, bite the backside of her neck, swipe his tail below the female’s tail, and lock her to the copulation position with the help of his hind legs. Copulation will them quickly occur, i.e., for less than a minute.
If your females scratch your vivarium or seem aggressive, she is not ready to mate. Otherwise, a receptive female will bob their head slowly.
Finally, since females have oviductal crypts for storing sperms, they can lay as 15-30 eggs twice from a single instance of mating.
2. Gravid females
As a breeder, you need to know that gravid or egg carrying bearded dragons require more calcium to avoid depletion. They use calcium in making eggshells.
Therefore, ensure you supplement calcium, vitamin D3, and other supplements as you do to baby beardies. Supplementation will prevent metabolic bone disease and other health problems. Otherwise, if gravid females are calcium deficient, their eggs will be bright or semi-clear, and they may not bind well or burst as embryos grow.
When carrying eggs, they will increase in size and later have lumps on their abdomen, which you can feel with your hands.
3. Laying eggs
Typically, females lay a clutch of 10-30 eggs twice from a single mating with larger females laying more eggs in most cases. Their eggs are oval and flexible (with soft shells).
While in the wild, they will find a suitable place, dig a hole, lay and bury the eggs. Afterward, they will leave them unattended.
In captivity, they need a nesting box such as slightly damp but not wet sand, coco fiber, or both and will lay eggs 2-3 weeks after mating.
Signs that they are about to lay eggs include substrate scratching and digging, while some will stop eating as usual.
Provide them with at least an 18-gallon nesting with the 16-inch deep substrate. When gravid beardies are about to lay eggs, they will dig deep burrows for laying eggs.
For nesting purposes, prepare two parts of the horticultural vermiculite to one part of water. The substrate should be moist but not very wet. Not providing them a place to lay eggs may make them suffer from dystocia where they will not be able to pass their eggs.
Egg care and incubation
Once they have laid eggs, carefully dig them and put them in your incubation box with the embryo side facing up. It appears as a pink spot inside the egg.
You can use sand, coarse potting soils, Perlite, or vermiculite substrate that is slightly damper than the nesting box. A typical ratio of vermiculite to water is often 1:1.
1. Are they fertile and healthy?
How do you know a healthy and fertile egg? It is straightforward. A healthy egg turns to chalk white, and it grows during incubation to double its initial size. Those appearing green, yellow may be infertile.
Furthermore, shining a bright light on them in a dark place from the opposite side should enable you to see a pink spot in the eggs with blood vessels. If not fertile, they will appear yellow without veins.
2. Incubation duration and conditions
Incubation periods will vary with bearded dragon species with ideal temperature ranging from mid-20’s°C to low-mid 30’s C.
Temperature variation will swing gender with lower favoring male and higher female hatchlings. While they may have male or female chromosomes, incubation temperature will influence gender.
For instance, when incubated at a higher temperature (34 °C), the hatchlings will be female, while if it occurs at a lower temperature (30 °C), expect a male.
How soon they hatch will depend on temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors. In the wild, it takes between 50-80 days.
Bearded dragon size and age
As a breeder or buyer, you may want the average age and size of a bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) starting from a hatchling, those three weeks, four weeks, one month, two months, three months, four months, nine months, and so on. There is no way of doing so with certainty,
However, knowing the approximate sizes of baby, juvenile, subadult, and adult beardies may help determine their age. Usually, you get their size by taking their length measurement from snout to tail.
1. Hatchlings days old
Hatchlings are newly hatched bearded dragons. They measure below 4 inches, typically 2-4 inches in length.
2. Baby bearded dragon: 0-2 months old
Baby bearded dragons are age 0-2 months, and their typical size is size 5-9 inches with the older ones larger and the younger ones smaller.
3. Juveniles: 2-7 months old
Juvenile bearded dragons are those aged above two months and up to seven months of age. At two months, they will measure approximately 5 – 9 inches, whereas, at seven months, their size will be 12-19.
4. Subadult: 7-18-months old
Subadults are beardies are those who are aged 7-18 months. It is during this stage that sexual maturity may occur. How often it happens depends on their size and not just age.
At seven months, their size will be 12-19 inches, and by the time they are 18 months, they will measure 16-22 inches.
5. Adults or fully bearded dragons: 18 months and above
Adults or fully-grown beardies measure18-22 inches. However, some can grow for up to 24 inches, particularly while in the wild. Some, including those living under captivity, do grow to 24 inches with bearded dragon morphs like German giants even larger.
6. Typical age size chart
Besides the above age groups, the below age and size chart may help you to approximate their age further.
- 0-1 months: 3-4 inches
- 2 months: 5-9 inches
- 3 months: 8-11 inches
- 4 months: 9-12 inches
- 5-6 months: 11-16 inches
- 7-8 months: 13-20 inches
- 9-12 months: 16-22 inches
7. Other ways to know the age of a bearded dragon
Besides considering their size, to tell their age, here is what you have to know:
1. Ask the vendor, owner or breeder
Most breeders or owners can tell the approximate age of their these reptiles. i.e., they know their birthday. Using breeders is the most reliable or accurate way to determine this pet’s age. You could also obtain other essential information like parents, health history, the average lifespan of the stock that the breeder has, etcetera.
If you got yours from a pet store, the vendor might have information regarding their age at the time he or she sold it to you. Using this information, you can determine how old they are.
If they don’t know, then use the beardie’s size at the time you purchased it to estimate their age by adding the time you have had it.
2. Ask your vet
Herp vets may be able to approximate the age of your beardie as well as their gender, especially if they have reached sexual maturity.
3. Consider sexual maturity
Finally, sexual maturity is another way to approximate the age of these reptiles if you bought it before it reached sexual maturity. Look at the various things that determine sexual gender since they appear once these pets mature sexually.