Have you ever wondered whether your Leopard Gecko is a boy or a girl?
Whether you are a hobbyist or professional breeder, knowing their gender can come in handy, especially for breeding or naming.
I purchased all of my geckos as babies or juveniles, so their gender was a mystery when I got them. Male and female Leopard Geckos look almost identical at first glance. I quickly learned that you have to wait until they are almost fully grown until you can tell for sure.
However, if you know where to look and what to look for, there are subtle differences. In this article, I will walk you through the 7 best ways to sex Leopard Geckos and at what age to use each method.
How To Tell If A Leopard Gecko Is Male Or Female?
There are six ways to determine the sex of a Leopard Gecko.
The most accurate methods are based on the physical differences between male vs female Leopard Geckos. If your gecko is a male, he will have noticeable hemipenal bulges, femoral pores, and pre-anal pores. These characteristics are absent, or much fainter in females.
It is also possible to use size, weight, appearance, and temperament to pick out a male or female Leopard Gecko. However, these traits vary widely from individual to individual and so are generally less dependable.
Males tend to be heavier, larger, and more territorial, but this is not always the case.
With a little practice, I find that adult Leopard Geckos are relatively easy to sex using physical differences like hemipenes and pre-anal pores.
Male vs Female Leopard Geckos
|Size||8-11 inches long.
Stocky, wide, muscular neck and head.
|7-9 inches long.
Smaller, less bulky and more graceful.
|Weight||70-100 grams.||50-75 grams.|
|Lifespan||10-15 years.||10-15 years.|
|Pre-anal Pores||Prominent and v-shaped.||Faint.|
|Temperament||Territorial, but not always.||Passive, but not always.|
- Male and females have similar lifespans of around 15-20 years, when not used for breeding.
- Both have the same feeding and dietary needs. When developing a feeding plan, you only need to consider their age and weight, unless you are planning to breed.
- The care and husbandry requirements for both are nearly identical.
- Both are easy to keep and are a fantastic choice for new reptile owners. It is not necessarily better to have one or the other.
- Prices are identical, especially for babies that aren’t sexed.
- Morphs are the same for both Leopard Gecko sexes. A ‘morph’ is a color or pattern that was developed by selectively breeding geckos in captivity.
- Males have two prominent bulges just behind their vent where their sexual organs are stored. Females do not have these hemipenal bulges.
- On average, males are longer and heavier as adults. Large males can weigh up to 100 grams or more, while females rarely top the scales over 75 grams.
- Females have very faint femoral and pre-anal pores. In males, these pores are darker and larger. Pre-anal pores run in a V-shape in front of the cloaca, between the hind legs.
- In my experience, males can be more aggressive, though I have certainly kept exceptions.
- Males tend to have stockier builds than females; I find this especially noticeable in the head and neck. The first time I encountered an adult male, I was shocked at how much wider his head was.
Sexing Leopard Geckos
1. Hemipenal Bulges
The presence of hemipenal bulges is what I usually use to sex my Leopard Geckos because they are very distinct and easy to spot.
Male Leopard Geckos have two distinct bulges just behind their vent at the base of the tail. These bumps house a male gecko’s sex organs, called hemipenes. The hemipenes stay hidden in the hemipenal bulges, unless it is time to mate.
Female geckos don’t have hemipenes, so they lack these bulges.
To look for hemipenal bulges (or a lack thereof), carefully turn your gecko upside down and inspect the area between its hind legs. Males will have two rounded bulges.
For wiggly males that don’t like to sit still, I recommend putting them in a clear plastic container. This way you can get a clear view of their underside without handling.
Author Tip: When I get a baby gecko, I start checking for hemipenal bulges once it reaches nine months.
2. Femoral Pores
Leopard Geckos communicate with each other partly through chemical signals called pheromones. They produce these pheromones to signal to females and rival males that they are present in a territory.
Some of these pheromones are excreted through femoral pores in male Leopard Geckos. These femoral pores run along the underside of each upper thigh.
In males, femoral pores are enlarged and look like a row of brown or whitish scales.
In females, the pores are barely visible.
Author Tip: Femoral pores are one of the best ways to sex Leopard Geckos. However, the pores of males won’t be visible until they reach sexual maturity, between 9 and 12 months.
3. Pre-Anal Pores
Pre-anal pores look like a V-shaped row of circular scales positioned just in front of the cloaca, or vent.
Pre-anal pores are also used by males to secrete pheromones. These pores are one of the easiest and most accurate ways to sex Leopard Geckos because they are clearly visible in adult males, but not in females.
Male Leopard Geckos have noticeably dark pores that stand out against their white belly.
Females have very pale, faint pores.
Author Tip: Look for pre-anal pores by gently lifting your gecko to view its underside. If you don’t immediately notice pre-anal pores on an adult, it is very likely a female!
When I was new to keeping Leopard Geckos, I was handling my friend’s when I noticed a row of dark spots on its underside, at the base of the tail. It turns out he was a male, and those spots were his pre-anal pores.
4. Egg Incubation Temperature
It is very difficult to use the methods listed above in geckos less than six months old.
Babies and juveniles look the same no matter their sex.
With baby Leopard Geckos, it is mostly a guessing game, unless you know the breeder.
The most accurate way to tell the sex of a baby Leopard Gecko is by knowing the temperature it was incubated at. For Leopard Geckos, the temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines whether the babies are boys or girls:
- An incubation temperature of 80°F produces nearly all females.
- 87°F produces a roughly equal split.
- 90°F produces nearly all males.
Professional Leopard Gecko breeders should have a good idea of the sex of their baby geckos based on the temperature of incubation.
Generally, only breeders would have a reason to select male or female Leopard Geckos, but hobbyists may want a boy or girl for personal preference.
There is a bit of overlap in size between male and female Leopard Geckos. However, as a rule, males are bulkier, thicker, and more muscular. I find that this difference in size is most visible around the head and neck area.
Females tend to be slimmer and smaller in length and weight.
|Length||8-11 inches||7-9 inches|
|Weight||70-90 grams||50-75 grams|
|Appearance||Stocky build, muscular head, jaws, and neck||Slender build, thinner head and neck|
Size and appearance can give you a clue to your gecko’s sex, but this method can only be used on adults over 18 months old. At this point, they have reached their full size and are unlikely to add on any weight.
On average, fully grown males weigh between 70 and 90 grams, though large individuals can weigh over 100 grams. From snout to tail, they typically measure between 8 and 11 inches.
Females weigh 50 to 75 grams and top out at 9 inches in length.
I had hoped my current gecko was a male when I got her, but once she reached maturity she was clearly a female! I personally wanted a male because they tend to grow larger.
In the wild, adult Leopard Geckos live on their own, or in loose groups of several females and a single male. Males are territorial and will try to scare off those who get too close.
In captivity, you might find that a male gecko is feistier than a female! This is especially true if you keep multiple geckos in close proximity to each other, such as in side-by-side tanks.
My male Leopard Gecko shows more dominant body language (e.g. tail-waving or standing tall) than my females when I am cleaning or moving decor in his tank.
Females may be more even-tempered, but they have a few extra care requirements. They generally need more calcium, especially when ovulating. I recommend keeping a small dish of a calcium (without vitamin D3) in the tank at all times.
Males should be housed alone because of their tendency to bully rival males.
Is It Better To Have A Male Or Female?
In my 14 years of caring for Leopard Geckos, I have kept both males and females. Personally, I don’t believe that one gender makes a better pet than the other.
I have not experienced any significant differences in the cost or care of male vs female Leopard Geckos.
Males tend to grow larger than females, so they eat more insects and/or bigger prey to sustain their growth and body size. For the same reason, they may need a larger tank too. Most females can be kept in a 20-gallon long tank, but a large male over 9 inches would greatly benefit from a 40-gallon terrarium.
One of the pros of keeping male Leopard Geckos is that you don’t need to worry about reproductive issues. Rarely, females can experience problems with ovulation or issues like egg binding. I have never had these problems happen to my females, but some owners don’t want the risk.
Breeding can also reduce the lifespan of female geckos because it puts an energy toll on her body. Growing and laying eggs is hard work. Studies on reptiles suggest that breeding likely has a negative impact on the lifespan of female lizards.
Unless you plan on breeding, you probably won’t notice a significant difference in the lifespan.
All of my males and females have lived to roughly the same age, about 15 years.
On the other hand, I find that females tend to be more docile, especially in the juvenile stage. Both sexes become more mellow as they age, but in my experience, females are easier to tame.
Both male and female Leopard Geckos are easy to care for and make great beginner lizards. At the end of the day, choose one that best fits your personal preference and experience.
- You will be able to tell the gender of a Leopard Gecko more accurately if you wait until it is 9 months old. Babies are much more difficult to sex than adults.
- Males have two hemipenal bulges at the base of their tail. They also have a V-shaped line of dark-colored pre-anal pores in front of their cloaca, and two lines of femoral pores on the backs of the hind legs. Females do not have these large bulges and only have very faint pores.
- Hemipenal bulges, femoral pores, and pre-anal pores are highly accurate sexing methods.
- Behavioral differences between males and females are sometimes hard to pin down. Females are typically smaller and less aggressive, though there are always exceptions!
- Females may ovulate or lay eggs (even when not bred), which makes their care slightly more involved.