Male Vs Female Bearded Dragons Unraveling The Size Myth

Once upon a time, there were two types of Bearded Dragons: males and females. People used to believe that male Bearded Dragons were always bigger than female Bearded Dragons. They thought that bigger meant stronger and better. But you know what? That’s not always true! In this article, we’re going to learn about the difference between male and female Bearded Dragons and why their size doesn’t necessarily determine who’s the best. So get ready to unravel the size myth and discover the amazing world of Bearded Dragons!

Sexual Dimorphism in Bearded Dragons

Bearded dragons are fascinating reptiles that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. One interesting aspect of these creatures is the presence of sexual dimorphism, which means that male and female bearded dragons differ in appearance and behavior. In this article, we will explore the differences between male and female bearded dragons, debunk some myths surrounding their growth, and discuss how to determine their gender. We will also touch upon the health implications of misgendering these reptiles and provide care tips for both male and female bearded dragons.

Appearance Differences

When it comes to appearance, male and female bearded dragons can be easily distinguished. Adult males tend to have larger heads, broader shoulders, and a more muscular build compared to their female counterparts. They also develop distinct pores on the underside of their hind legs, which are used for scent marking and reproduction.

Female bearded dragons, on the other hand, have smaller heads, and more slender bodies, and tend to be slightly smaller in size overall. They lack the prominent pores seen in males and usually have a more faded coloration with less vibrant patterns.

Behavioral Differences

In addition to appearance, male and female bearded dragons also exhibit distinct behaviors. During mating season, males become more territorial and may display aggressive behavior towards other males. They often bob their heads, puff out their beards, and darken their colors to attract females.

Females, on the other hand, tend to be more docile and less territorial. They may display submissive behaviors, such as head lowering and waving their arms when approached by a male. Female bearded dragons also have a unique ability to lay eggs, which we will discuss later in this article.

Growth and Development

Bearded dragons, like many reptiles, go through a process of growth and development. However, the growth rates and factors influencing growth can vary between males and females.

Factors Affecting Growth

Several factors can influence the growth of bearded dragons, including nutrition, temperature, and genetics. Ensuring that your bearded dragon receives a balanced diet, appropriate enclosure setup, and optimal temperature is crucial for its overall growth and development. Males and females may have slightly different dietary requirements, which we will cover in more detail later.

Growth Rate in Males

Male bearded dragons tend to have a faster growth rate compared to females. This is partly because males invest more energy in growing larger to establish dominance and compete with other males for mates.

Growth Rate in Females

Female bearded dragons generally have a slower growth rate compared to males. This is because females allocate more energy towards reproductive functions, such as producing eggs, rather than physical growth. It’s important to note that this slower growth rate does not mean that females are unhealthy or stunted in any way.

Myth of Female Bearded Dragons Growing Larger

There is a prevalent myth that female bearded dragons eventually grow larger than males. However, this is a misinterpretation of the data surrounding bearded dragon growth.

Misinterpretation of Data

The myth of female bearded dragons growing larger likely stems from the fact that females can lay eggs. When a female is carrying eggs, her abdomen may appear swollen, giving the illusion of a larger size. However, once she lays her eggs, her body size returns to normal. This temporary increase in size due to egg-carrying should not be mistaken for overall growth.

Understanding Sexual Size Dimorphism

To better understand the concept of sexual size dimorphism, it’s important to recognize that in most species, males tend to be larger than females. This is often attributed to the need for males to compete for mates and establish dominance, which requires a larger size and strength. In the case of bearded dragons, the larger size and more muscular build of males are primarily due to their need to compete with other males during the breeding season.

Determining Gender in Bearded Dragons

Determining the gender of bearded dragons can be both intriguing and important for their care. There are several methods to identify the sex of these reptiles.

Physical Characteristics

One of the most common methods of determining the gender of a bearded dragon is by examining its physical characteristics. As mentioned earlier, adult males have larger heads, broader shoulders, and a more muscular build. They also develop distinct pores on the underside of their hind legs. Females, on the other hand, have smaller heads, more slender bodies, and lack the prominent pores seen in males.

Cloacal Pores

Another way to determine the gender of a bearded dragon is by examining its cloacal pores. A cloaca is an opening through which reptiles excrete waste and reproduce. In males, the cloacal pores are more noticeable and often appear slightly swollen. In females, the cloacal pores are less prominent.

Behavioral Differences

In addition to physical characteristics, behavioral differences can also provide clues about the gender of a bearded dragon. During the breeding season, males may exhibit more aggressive behavior, such as head bobbing and territoriality. Females, on the other hand, may display submissive behaviors when approached by a male.

Genetic Testing

For a more accurate determination of gender, genetic testing can be performed. This involves taking a small sample of the bearded dragon’s DNA and analyzing it to determine whether it has male or female chromosomes. Genetic testing is typically done by a veterinarian or a specialized reptile laboratory.

Health Implications of Misgendering Bearded Dragons

Misgendering a bearded dragon can have various health implications. It can impact breeding programs and lead to potential health risks.

Impacts on Breeding Programs

Misgendering bearded dragons can disrupt breeding programs. If two males are mistakenly identified as a male and female pair, there will be no chance of successful reproduction. Similarly, misidentifying a female as a male may result in failed attempts at breeding or could lead to complications if she unexpectedly lays eggs.

Potential Health Risks

Misgendering bearded dragons can also pose potential health risks to the misidentified individuals. For example, if a female is mistakenly identified as a male and is housed with other males, there is a risk of aggressive behavior and injury. Additionally, misidentified females may not receive proper care during egg-laying, which can lead to complications such as egg binding.

Care Tips for Male and Female Bearded Dragons

Proper care is essential for the health and well-being of male and female bearded dragons. While many aspects of their care are the same, there are some differences to keep in mind.

Diet and Nutrition

Both male and female bearded dragons require a balanced diet consisting of insects, vegetables, and occasionally fruits. However, the portion sizes and frequency of feeding may differ slightly between the two genders. Males, due to their faster growth rate, may require slightly larger prey items and more frequent feedings. Females, especially during reproductive periods, may benefit from additional calcium supplementation to support egg production.

Enclosure Setup and Temperature

Both male and female bearded dragons require a suitable enclosure setup and optimal temperature gradients. The enclosure should provide enough space for the dragon to move around comfortably and should be equipped with appropriate heating and lighting sources. Temperature and humidity levels should be adjusted based on the specific needs of each dragon. It’s important to ensure that both male and female bearded dragons have access to suitable basking areas, hiding spots, and a clean water source.

Handling and Socialization

Handling and socialization are important aspects of bearded dragon care. While individual personalities may vary, both male and female bearded dragons can benefit from regular and gentle handling. This helps them become more comfortable with human interaction and reduces stress. It’s important to approach them slowly and support their bodies while handling them to ensure their safety and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Female Bearded Dragons Turn Male?

No, female bearded dragons cannot turn into males. Their gender is determined by their genetics and cannot be changed. It’s important to accurately determine the gender of your bearded dragon as misgendering can lead to various health and behavioral issues.

Can Male Bearded Dragons Lay Eggs?

No, male bearded dragons cannot lay eggs. Only female bearded dragons can produce and lay eggs. Males play a crucial role in the reproductive process by fertilizing the eggs.

Can Bearded Dragons Change Gender?

No, bearded dragons cannot change their gender. Like most animals, their gender remains constant throughout their lives. It is important to properly identify the gender of your bearded dragon for their care and overall well-being.

Are Male or Female Bearded Dragons Better Pets?

Both male and female bearded dragons can make wonderful pets. The choice between the two genders ultimately depends on personal preference and the specific characteristics you are looking for in a pet. It’s important to provide proper care, nutrition, and a suitable environment regardless of the gender you choose.


In summary, sexual dimorphism is a fascinating aspect of bearded dragons. Understanding the differences in appearance, behavior, growth, and gender is essential for their care and overall well-being. By debunking the myth of female bearded dragons growing larger and providing accurate information on determining their gender, we hope to help enthusiasts provide the best care possible for these incredible reptiles. Remember, whether you have a male or female bearded dragon, providing proper nutrition, enclosure setup, and handling will ensure a happy and healthy life for your scaly friend.