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What Are the Characteristics of a Male Bearded Dragon?

Britt Archer
Britt Archer

It isn’t an easy task to differentiate male and female bearded dragons when they are youngsters. The job is easier when they enter adulthood and distinct characteristics emerge. When compared to an adult female, an adult male bearded dragon has a bigger head and a thicker tail. The male bearded dragon also can be identified by a pair of bumps beneath its tail, at the base of the appendage. A female may have a single bump, or she may have no bump at all.

A male bearded dragon also will show specific characteristics when it is preparing to mate. He may move his head in a repeated up and down motion to show off his masculinity in front of either a female, to impress her, or in front of another male to intimidate him away from his female conquest. A male will also exhibit the behavior for which the reptile is named: His neck will expand, giving him a fierce bearded look, and it also can change color, becoming darker. If he’s feeling especially aggressive, he may also open his jaws and accompany the movement with a hiss. Females have been known to inflate the neck area also, but the males do it more frequently, either during mating or to show aggression.

Male bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards when trying to impress their female counterparts.
Male bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards when trying to impress their female counterparts.

Both sexes can exhibit certain other behaviors as signs of submission. These behaviors include waving their small forelegs, often in response to a dominant male bearded dragon who is nodding his head up and down, to submit to the other’s dominance. Both sexes also will raise the tail over their backs in a curve, the point facing the front of their bodies, to exhibit a keen interest and alertness. A raised and curved tail is a sign of good health, and it can mean a female is receptive to a male’s advances, or it could simply mean the bearded dragon has spotted something of interest, such as a meal.

Bearded dragons have distinct personalities, much like other beloved house pets. Some of the bearded dragons have been known to nod their heads slowly up and down in greeting when their owners approach. The motion is similar to when the bearded dragon is posturing for a female or trying to scare off a rival, but it is performed more slowly.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Male bearded dragons typically exhibit broader heads, thicker tails, and larger femoral pores than females. Additionally, males often have more pronounced hemipenal bulges at the base of the tail. These characteristics become more evident as the dragons reach sexual maturity, usually around 8-12 months of age.

What are femoral pores and how do they differ in male bearded dragons?

Femoral pores are small glands located on the underside of a bearded dragon's hind legs. In males, these pores are generally larger and more conspicuous than in females. They secrete a waxy substance used to mark territory and attract mates, especially during the breeding season.

Do male bearded dragons show any specific behaviors?

Yes, male bearded dragons often display distinct behaviors such as head bobbing, arm waving, and beard fluffing to assert dominance or attract a mate. They may also become more territorial and aggressive during the breeding season, which is why they require careful handling and observation.

At what age can you typically identify the sex of a bearded dragon?

While some subtle differences can be noted earlier, the sex of a bearded dragon can usually be accurately determined when they reach sexual maturity, around 8-12 months. At this age, the physical characteristics that differentiate males from females, such as head shape and hemipenal bulges, become more pronounced.

Can the size of a bearded dragon indicate its sex?

Size alone is not a reliable indicator of a bearded dragon's sex, as both males and females can vary widely in length and weight. However, on average, males may grow slightly larger and have more robust bodies than females, but environmental factors and nutrition also play significant roles in determining size.

Is there a difference in the coloration between male and female bearded dragons?

Coloration in bearded dragons is not a definitive indicator of sex, as both males and females can exhibit a range of colors and patterns. However, during the breeding season, males may display more vivid colors to attract females or to intimidate rival males, which can sometimes make them appear more colorful than females.

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    • Male bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards when trying to impress their female counterparts.
      Male bearded dragons have the ability to puff out and darken their beards when trying to impress their female counterparts.