Knowing the gender of your reptile may help you to house and care for your pet more appropriately. If you want to know the sex because you’re thinking of breeding your reptile, however, please reconsider. Finding a home for the offspring can be difficult. Most shelters, zoos and pet shops will not take them in.
Adoption issues aside, determining the sex of your pet is not straightforward. Not all reptiles have prominent secondary sexual characteristics. Unless you are familiar with the species and know the maturity level of the animal, you may have to rely on a reptile specialist to make the determination.
Following, are some general tips for different types of reptiles:
Turtles: As a general rule:
- Males have a longer thicker tail than females of the same species (when they are full grown).
- The location of the cloaca is also different between male and female turtles. The cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the vent for both the intestinal and urinary tracts of certain animal species. In males, the cloacal opening is located towards the end of the tail. In females, the cloacal opening is closer to the body.
- Females tend to have very short nails; males have long nails on their front feet. They actually use them to stimulate the female into breeding by tapping them on her shell.
Iguanas: For juveniles, visit a reptile veterinarian or an experienced reptile handler to have it sexed. They will use a special tool to probe the cloacal vent to determine if it is a male or female. Please note that a veterinarian or experienced reptile handler only should perform this procedure; otherwise it can be very easy for you to harm your reptile. Adult iguanas have some external features that aid in sex determination:
- Males are larger than the female and have a larger, broader head with bumps on the top. Females have smaller heads without bumps.
- Males have a larger tympanic scale on the side of their jowls.
- Males have a larger dewlap and longer spikes down the back. (They flare them out to intimidate other male iguanas or to attract females.)
- Males have an orange coloring on their face and body during breeding season.
- The femoral pores (located on the inside of the thighs) on a male become enlarged with a waxy substance, which makes them easy to see. The pores on a female are like pinpoints.
- Visually sexing your snake is tricky, but generally speaking:
- The female is larger and more rounded than the male.
- In larger species, such as boas and pythons, you may see spurs on either side of the cloacal vent. The spurs will be much larger on a male than on a female; in fact, many females have little or no spurs at all.
- The tail of the female also tends to look shorter and wider while the male’s tail is longer and more slender in appearance.
- These tips for determining the gender of your reptile are not foolproof – your pet snake might be a female with large spurs or a male with a shorter, rounded tail. In general, it’s best to let your veterinarian or an experienced reptile handler figure it out
These tips for determining the gender of your reptile are not foolproof – your pet snake might be a female with large spurs or a male with a shorter, rounded tail. In general, it’s best to let your veterinarian or an experienced reptile handler figure it out