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It can be a bit hard to determine the sex of a pet reptile since they lack the obvious body parts that some of our more typical housepets have. Crested Geckos are no exception to the rule, and it can be a challenge for new keepers to figure out whether they have a male or female on their hands.
Thankfully, there are some ways you can determine whether your scaley bundle of joy needs a boy name or a girl name, and we’re going to talk about them here.
The 5 Vet-Reviewed Steps to Sex a Crested Gecko
1. Consult Your Veterinarian
Owning an exotic reptile means you need to have an exotic animal veterinarian established for your pet’s care. If you are having trouble determining the sex of your adorable little Crested Gecko pal, ask your veterinarian for some help at your next appointment. Experienced exotic veterinarians can perform ultrasound sex determination, endoscopic sex determination or probing of hemipene pockets.
2. Identify Hemipenal Bulge – Depending on Age
The most obvious way to distinguish a male Crested Gecko from a female at home is by identifying the hemipenal bulge that is visible when a male matures. Unfortunately, this bulge won’t appear until your gecko has reached at least 6 months up to 1 year of age, or weighs around 20 grams.
This bulge is visible right below the vent, near the base of the tail. If this bulge is present, the gecko is male; if there is no bulge and it’s flat at the base of the tail, the gecko is female. This is the most definitive way to tell between the two, but keep in mind this is for mature specimens only. Young geckos that have not fully developed will be hard to tell apart unless you get up close.
3. Use a 30X and 60X Loupe with an LED Light
If your Crested Gecko is not yet mature but you don’t want to wait around and find out what sex they are, it’s going to be more difficult to tell. But there are certainly some things you can do. First and foremost, you need a loupe with an LED light.
It’s recommended that you get a loupe that offers both 30X and 60X magnifying capabilities so that way you can take a close look underneath the vent. Be gentle when checking and ensure your gecko is secure and there is no risk of dropping or injuring them as you look.
Males that have not yet fully matured will lack the obvious hemipenal bulge but will have femoral pores. These pores can be seen using magnification and LED light and look like tiny black dots in the middle of the scales right between the back legs. If these pores are present, you have a male on your hands. These pores may just look like black dots during the baby and juvenile stages, but once the male matures, they will be used to secrete waxy pheromones to mark territory and attract females.
Male Crested Geckos will develop these pores at different rates. Some may appear near the 5 gram mark, but most will be visible once they reach around 10 grams in weight. This will vary by individual, so it’s always a good idea to keep checking back as your gecko grows and ages if you want to be sure.
4. Take a High-Resolution Close Up Photo
Another way to identify the femoral pores on a baby or juvenile male Crested Gecko is by taking a high-resolution close-up photograph to get a good look. Some may opt to use a quality macro lens on their professional camera, but certain smartphones that have high-tech photo-taking capabilities can also capture the pores.
It can be a bit more difficult to find these pores on certain color morphs. Because they look like tiny black dots, it can be very hard to identify the pores based on the gecko’s coloration. The lighter-colored geckos are much easier to sex at a young age.
Make sure you have another person handy to help you hold the gecko securely in place as you take the photograph. It needs to be very crisp and clear, otherwise, you will not be able to tell. More inexperienced keepers can always reference other photographs to help them determine what they are looking at.
5. Ask a Reputable Breeder
If you are purchasing a pet reptile, you should do so from a reputable breeder that is highly knowledgeable in the species they are breeding. If they have not yet determined the sex of your gecko before your purchase, they should have no problem with you reaching out for knowledge and advice regarding your new pet.
You can ask them for tips and tricks for sexing geckos or even see if they’d be willing to take a look at the photographs you have taken since they have much more experience. There are also plenty of breeders that provide educational videos on social media platforms that would be happy to help you.
Male vs. Female Crested Geckos – Interesting Facts
Both male and female Crested Geckos can make wonderful, docile, and very interesting pets. Besides the obvious biological difference between a male and female, there are also some other things that keepers should be aware of when it comes to males and females.
Males Are Often Larger
The size difference between males and females can vary by species. When it comes to Crested Geckos, males are generally larger, and heavier, with slightly broader heads. Once they are fully mature, they’ll also have the telltale bulge we talked about earlier.
Males Should Never Be Housed Together
Knowing the sex of your Crested Gecko is very important, especially in cases where you plan on housing more than one in the same habitat. Males should never be housed with other males, as they will get territorial and aggressive with one another, which could be very dangerous. Males should only be kept with females, but not permanently. Of course, if this happens, you can expect eggs to be laid and baby geckos to emerge at some point.
Females Can Live Together
The male Crested Geckos may not be able to get along, but the females often don’t have much trouble being housed together as long as they have enough space to comfortably cohabit the same enclosure. Crested Geckos also do well living alone since they are quite solitary creatures, so keeping them with others is not a requirement for their well-being.
Crested Geckos are adorable and very rewarding pets for those that are prepared to meet their unique care requirements. When it comes to determining the sex of your Crested Gecko, the easiest way to tell the difference is by viewing the hemipenal bulge on the mature adult male and the lack thereof for adult females.
Many don’t want to wait around and find out after their gecko has reached adulthood, however, which means you’ll have to get creative and bring out the magnifying loupe and a high-tech camera to get up close and personal to see if you can locate the femoral spores that are present on males. If you want to be sure, consult your exotic veterinarian for ultrasound or endoscopic sex determination.
Featured Image Credit: Sefa Kaya, Ahutterstock