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What Are the Characteristics of a Female Bearded Dragon?

By Bethney Foster
Updated May 21, 2024
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A female bearded dragon has only one characteristic that can definitely differentiate her from a male bearded dragon by appearance. The most definite characteristic of a female bearded dragon is the lack of a hemipenal bulge, whereas the male bearded dragon will have two hemipenal bulges. This characteristic of gender, however, usually isn't visible in hatchling dragons and young juvenile dragons, though it does become easier to determine gender in adult bearded dragons.

The hemipenal bulges are located beneath the male bearded dragon's tail, above the ventral opening. In males, hemipenal bulges will be visible on both sides of the tail. The female lack hemipenes, but there will be a slight bulge in the center of her tail above the ventral opening. Although this is the only characteristic by which to determine with certainty the gender of a bearded dragon, there are other general characteristics that are more common in males than in females, and vice versa.

One of the characteristics of bearded dragons is their ability to puff out their beards and turn their beards dark. Females can do this as well was males, but males generally display this behavior more often than females, and males' beards usually turn darker in color than do the beards of female dragons. The dragon puffs out its beard and turns it dark as part of courtship routines, when the bearded dragon is feeling the need to defend its territory or when bearded dragon feels threatened.

Sizes of bearded dragons aren't a characteristic of gender, although the female bearded dragon will in general have a smaller head than her male counterparts do. Males often have thicker tails than females, although this can't be used to determine gender. A bearded dragon's tail thickens as it ages, so an older female bearded dragon might have a thicker tale than a younger male bearded dragon.

In many instances, female bearded dragons show less-aggressive behavior than male bearded dragons, but as with other characteristics, this isn't always true. Bearded dragons reach sexual maturity as young as eight months. Female bearded dragons will dig, attempting to create burrows in which to lay their eggs. Even if a female bearded dragon doesn't mate, she still might lay eggs, with about 20 eggs in a clutch. A male bearded dragon might also be seen digging burrows, however, because some bearded dragons also dig burrows for sleeping and during times of stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I distinguish a female bearded dragon from a male?

Female bearded dragons typically have a slimmer physique compared to males, with less pronounced head and facial features. They lack the prominent bulges that males have beneath their cloacas, which are hemipenal bulges. Additionally, females usually have smaller femoral pores and beard size, making these physical characteristics key indicators of their gender.

Do female bearded dragons display any unique behaviors?

Yes, female bearded dragons can exhibit unique behaviors, especially during breeding season. They may demonstrate digging behaviors as they prepare for egg-laying, even if they have not mated. This nesting behavior is a strong indicator of a female bearded dragon preparing to lay eggs, which is a behavior not seen in males.

What is the size range for adult female bearded dragons?

Adult female bearded dragons typically measure between 12 to 20 inches in length, with some variation depending on their diet and environment. According to research, they are generally smaller than their male counterparts, who can grow slightly larger due to their more robust build and longer tail base.

Can you tell the age of a female bearded dragon by her physical characteristics?

While physical characteristics can provide clues, accurately determining the age of a female bearded dragon is challenging without knowing her hatch date. As they grow, females will develop adult coloring and size within 12-18 months. Signs of aging in older females include slower movements and potential changes in skin texture.

Are there any specific health concerns to be aware of in female bearded dragons?

Female bearded dragons can be prone to egg binding (dystocia) if they are unable to lay their eggs, which is a serious health concern. Providing a proper diet rich in calcium and a suitable nesting area can help prevent this. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to monitor their health and address any reproductive issues.

How often do female bearded dragons lay eggs, and do they need to mate first?

Female bearded dragons can lay multiple clutches of eggs per year, typically ranging from 1 to 4 clutches, with each clutch containing up to 20-30 eggs. They can lay eggs without mating, producing infertile clutches, a phenomenon known as parthenogenesis. However, for the eggs to be fertile, mating with a male is necessary.

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