Got a pet leopard gecko and wondering whether it’s a boy or a girl? Telling the gender of a leo is known as ‘sexing’. Here’s how you can find out whether yours is a ‘he’ or a ‘she’.
For adult leopard geckos, look at the region between their legs, on the underside. If you see a row of small pores forming a ‘V’ and a slight bulging below the vent, it’s a boy. If you don’t see any bulges and the pores are either not visible or are too small, it’s a girl.
It is almost impossible to tell the gender of a juvenile leopard gecko. You can only tell the gender when they are sexually matured. This can be around at least 6 months of age or till they are at least 5-6 inches long. Here’s more information on exactly how you can tell the gender.
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How to identify the gender of an adult leopard gecko?
If you don’t have experience handling geckos, it could be a little confusing to tell the gender, especially if the gecko is just reaching adulthood. Gently lift the gecko in your hands and observe the underside just between its hind legs.
If it has boy parts, it’s a boy. If you don’t see the boy parts, it’s a girl! You can look for the below traits to determine the gender of the leo.
1. Hemipenile bulges
If your leopard gecko is a male, you will see two distinct bulges below its vent, near the base of the tail. The two bulges are on the two sides of the vent.
Each bulge houses the male reproductive organ of the gecko which will come out during mating. You will not find these bulges in a female gecko. These bulges or bumps are the easiest way to tell the gender of your pet leo.
2. Pre-anal pores
Pre-anal pores are present in both males and females. They are just at the front of the vent on the underside and look like small dots. However, they are more distinct in males.
In females, the pre-anal pores are smaller and are barely visible. In males, the dots are clear and they become more prominent as the male leo matures.
You will see the holes forming a ‘V’ shape above the vent. Also, the pre-anal pores will secret a waxy material in male geckos. The waxy material is released by males to scent their territory.
Hence, there will often be a waxy build-up around the femoral pores. There is no secretion from the females’ pre-anal pores and hence, you won’t notice any build-up.
3. Femoral pores on the legs
Femoral pores are also located on the hind legs, on the thighs. They look like rows of small white dots. The pores are used to secret ‘pheromones’. Leopard geckos can smell the pheromones on each other to determine the gender. These pores, too, are distinctly visible in male leopard geckos.
In female geckos, even though the pores are present, they are barely noticeable. Also, the pores are larger in males.
Here’s a helpful video that shows how you can check the traits to identify the males and the females.
How to handle the leopard gecko when you observe it?
If you don’t have experience handling a leopard gecko, it is important to know how to do it when you are sexing it. The key is to be patient and gentle. Lightly stroke the gecko a few times.
Then, slide your fingers under them and lift them up. Take care to hold the leopard’s body and not their tail. The grip should be firm, but not too tight. If your leo shows signs of discomfort and tries to get away, release it and try again later.
Once you get used to handling the gecko, and more importantly, the gecko gets used to your touch, lift it gently and look at the underside. Leopard geckos are known to drop their tails if they feel threatened.
Hence, it is necessary to do this carefully and gently. Do not try to flip the leo over to check the underside. Instead, peek under them. You can also lay them on a transparent glass surface and look at their underside from below.
Some people, while sexing, tend to press against the hemipenile bumps to push the male reproductive organ out. They do this to really make sure the leopard gecko is a male. However, this is not recommended. It can injure your pet and cause it a lot of pain and discomfort.
Can you tell the gender of a baby leopard gecko?
If your gecko is still a baby, you won’t see any telling signs to determine the gender. The breeder from whom you got your pet might be able to tell you if it’s a boy or a girl. However, you might still have to wait till the leo is older to be sure.
Technically, it is impossible to tell the gender before the leopard gecko is about four months old. Ideally, you need to wait till it is ten months old when the signs that determine its sex are more visible. At this point, the leo would be around 5 to 6 inches long.
When the leopard gecko is reaching adulthood, it might start showing the signs described above. However, initially, the traits might be hard to see. But as it grows, it becomes easier to see the pores and the bulges.
Why should you know if the leo is a boy or a girl?
You want to know whether your leopard gecko is a boy or a girl because it is one of the basic things you want to know about your pet! And of course, you might want to give them a gender appropriate name, too.
There’s also this thing about knowing whether to refer to your pet leopard gecko as a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. It is all about connecting well to the little creature you have brought to your home and who is going to be a part of your life!
But apart from these obvious reasons, there are other reasons why you should know the gender of your leopard gecko. Here are the top reasons you should know whether it’s a boy or a girl.
- Male leopard geckos are generally quite aggressive with each other. They can injure each other or even kill. So, if you have two males, you might want to house them in different enclosures.
- If you have a male and a female, you might want to house them together only if you want them to breed. And if you are new to leopard geckos, you should avoid breeding them.
- A female leopard gecko can lay eggs even if it is housed alone, that is, even if it has not mated with a male. You should know this so as to not have any surprises. The eggs are infertile and will not result in babies.
- Male leopard geckos can have a hemipenis prolapse (a condition where the male reproductive organ comes out abnormally) due to impactions and infections.
Are there any other differences between males and females?
There are some differences in males and females which you should know. The male leopard geckos grow larger than their female counterparts. Males also weigh more than females, on average. Below are the average weights and size of adult leopard geckos.
|Attribute||Adult Males||Adult Females|
|Average Weight||8 to 11 inches||7 to 8 inches|
|Average Size||60 to 80 g||50 to 70 g|
Some male leopard geckos can be a bit more aggressive. On the other hand, you will find that female leos are more docile (still, this can vary). You should remember this while handling the leo. Also, generally, a male leopard gecko will have a broader head than the female. Males might also live longer than females.
An average female might live for six to ten years, whereas an average male leopard gecko might live for ten to twenty years. Some male leopard geckos are known to live beyond twenty-five years, too!
Also, some leopard gecko owners claim that males have a healthier appetite than females, though there is no scientific evidence for this.
However, these differences in physical characteristics are often not easy to spot. If you are not an expert on leopard geckos and haven’t handled a lot many leos, telling the gender from the weight or size is nearly impossible. Your best bet is to check for the pores and bulges near their tail.
Can you influence the gender of an unborn leopard gecko?
The gender of an unborn leopard gecko depends on the incubation temperature. This means that the environmental temperature around the eggs can decide the gender of the leopard geckos.
Lower temperatures usually result in female baby leos whereas higher temperatures result in males. This is why some leopard geckos are referred to as TSF (temp sexed female) or TSM (temp sexed male).
The table below gives the temperature range for getting male and female babies. If these temperatures are maintained, there is a 99.9% chance that the gender would be according to the table.
|Males||A constant 88 °F to 91 °F for the entire incubation period|
|Females||79 °F to 81 °F for the first three weeks; thereafter 88 °F to 90 °F|
|Mixed||A constant temperature of 85 °F to 87 °F for the entire incubation period|
This is why breeders will probably be able to tell you accurately what the gender of your pet baby leopard gecko is. However, in the case of mixed incubation temperatures, even the breeder might not be too sure. Hence, as described above, you might have to wait until they reach sexual maturity to be sure.
Once you know the gender of your pet, you will be able to care for it better and also bond with your new friend. And of course, you can give it the name you like!
But remember that in the process of identifying the gender, be very gentle so as to not injure or harm your pet. If you can’t find the telltale signs, wait for a couple of months for the leo to grow up and check again. If you still have no luck you might want an expert or a vet to take a look!