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Male vs. Female Geckos (How to Tell them Apart)

Male vs. Female Geckos (How to Tell them Apart)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

After purchasing your gecko and settling it in its new home, there’s only one thing left to do, name it. Now, you may have forgotten to ask your breeder about its gender.

The good news is that there are several ways you can point out your pet reptile’s sex. These methods primarily involve looking at its underside.

You’ll want to examine certain body parts, such as the pre-anal and femoral pores. Other than that, male and female geckos can differ in size, weight, build, and temperament.

Stick around to learn more about how you can distinguish between a female and a male gecko.

How To Tell the Gender of a Gecko

You may want to identify your gecko’s gender if you’re considering a breeding route. Other than that, you could be curious or want to name your gecko accurately based on gender.

Fortunately, you can figure out a gecko’s gender using multiple methods.

Method 1: Incubation Temperature

Your breeder likely knows your gecko’s gender from its incubation temperature. If the eggs were kept at temperatures ranging between 80 to 82 degrees F, the clutch is likely female.

Meanwhile, if the eggs were incubated at 88 to 90 degrees F, they’re mostly males. Now, if temperatures were between 83 to 87 degrees F, the eggs could be a mix of both genders.

Overall, the method is called temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD).

Method 2: Distinguish Physical Differences

You can determine a gecko’s gender as it reaches its juvenile stage, which is around four to six months of growth. Once your gecko is around that age, you’ll want to focus on three body parts.

Hemipenal Bulges

Just under the vent, a male gecko has two hemipenal bulges. The reptile’s hemipenes, or reproductive organs, are kept within the bulges until it needs to mate.

At this point, they’ll come out from each side of the tail for mating. Experienced owners tend to carefully push the bulge area and expose the hemipenes to correctly identify the gecko’s sex.

Nevertheless, it’s a risky procedure. Your gecko can become vulnerable to hemipene prolapse, where the hemipenes are left outside, leaving them susceptible to infection and damage.

Pre-Anal Pores

Pre-anal pores are used to distribute a waxy substance that secretes pheromones to attract passing females. In turn, they’re exclusively present on male gecko bodies.

You can locate them between the hind legs in front of the vent. The vent is where the gecko’s cloaca is. It’s where waste and reproductive production comes out.

Besides that, the pre-anal pores are V-shaped and appear prominently as black or brown spots. While female geckos have pre-anal pores, they’re barely visible.

Femoral Pores

Similar to pre-anal pores, femoral pores also function for pheromone excretion. The pores are more prominent in male geckos and appear as a line of dark brown spots.

They’re located below the reptile’s hind legs. Overall, femoral and pre-anal pore identification is the safest method to gauge your gecko’s gender since you don’t have to rely on handling your pet.

Method 3: Assess the Build

Female and male geckos differ in physical appearance. That said, male geckos are larger and bulkier than females. Plus, they’re more temperamental and territorial over their space.

Weight-wise, males are slightly heavier. Apart from that, you’ll want to focus on the appearance of their tail and neck. The thicker they are, the more likely you have a male gecko.

Now, we recommend using this method of sexing your gecko along with other methods for a more accurate answer.

How to Handle the Gecko

When attempting to recognize your gecko’s gender, you might resort to handling them. Nonetheless, this should be the last option.

Geckos notoriously drop their tails when feeling threatened. Subsequently, if you don’t normally handle your gecko, it can abruptly detach its tail.

For this reason, you’ll need to approach the gecko’s terrarium carefully. Next, gently stroke it before slowly reaching your hand under it and picking it up.

Hold the gecko’s body, not from its tail. At this point, if your gecko isn’t used to being picked up, it’ll likely squirm and try to escape your grip. Release your hand’s pressure and let it go.

If you didn’t leave it be, the gecko would’ve dropped their tail. That said, you’ll want to do this exercise regularly until your pet reptile feels more at ease each time.

Once that happens, you can briefly sneak a peek at their underside and look for pre-anal or femoral pores or feel for any hemipenal bulges.

Can Geckos Change Gender?

Some gecko breeds can change gender. For instance, the crested geckos have this evolutionary ability.

The gender change is likely due to environmental factors. If there’s female scarcity, males will alter their reproductive organs to become females.

Meanwhile, other species, like the mourning geckos have an additional advantage, being parthenogenetic. They can reproduce asexually.

Other gecko breeds, like the leopard kind, don’t have this sex change ability. Their sex relies on their genetics, or sex chromosomes, like humans.

Gender changes carry advantages and disadvantages. In terms of the pros, it provides an evolutionary step forward and solves sex scarcity issues.

Nonetheless, these gender changes can cause inbreeding. For example, male geckos can become female and breed with their offspring, leading to genetic complications.

Despite that, the phenomenon offers hope for conservation. It can provide a solution for boosting the population sizes of endangered gecko species.

Do Male or Female Leopard Geckos Get Bigger?

Female leopard geckos are usually smaller in size compared to their male counterparts. When identifying your pet’s gender, physical differences may not be the most accurate.

Size not only depends on gender but the gecko’s species, morph, age, and genetics. For example, a leopard gecko is naturally smaller than a tokay species.

Besides that, when comparing a male and female gecko of the same age, genetic background, and species, size differences can help determine the sex.

Female builds have longer, slimmer necks and elongated tails. Male geckos are stockier, with thicker necks and bulkier tails. Subsequently, males tend to weigh more than females.

Which Gender Should You Get?

Deciding between gender usually depends on whether you want a gecko for breeding purposes or not. Additionally, gecko gender can determine the tank size you’ll need to purchase.

For example, a fully grown male gecko might prefer a 40-gallon terrarium, especially if they’re longer than nine inches. Females are better acquainted with a 20-gallon tank.

Aside from that, female geckos are more vulnerable to reproductive health issues. Plus, breeding can clip off some years of a female’s lifespan.

Regarding temperament, females are less aggressive, particularly during the juvenile stage. Despite that, females and males mature as they grow and become naturally calmer.

Final Thoughts

How can you tell the difference between a female and a male gecko? In short, it all depends on physical aspects.

You’ll want to take a look at the gecko’s underside and examine its pre-anal and femoral pores as well as its hemipenal bulges.

Plus, in most cases, female geckos are more obedient, while males are more territorial, especially as juveniles.

Overall, looking at these differences will allow you to accurately sex your gecko.

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