Sexing Leopard Geckos

Q: I need to know how to tell between a male and a female leopard gecko. Can you tell me the natural markings?

A: The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is easy to sex once it’s no longer a hatchling. As with most herps, it is easier to sex them if you have a group to compare with each other.

They are not sexed by their spots or markings, as those are variable, depending on the color morph. Once they are 5 to 6 inches long, they are simple to sex. First, watch them interact. Males will vibrate the tail rapidly as a display behavior.

Next, gently pick up the lizard (not by the tail, which can detach) and examine the underside. Males have pre-anal pores, which are a line of small dots just in front of the vent. They also have two symmetrical swellings at the base of the tail, behind the vent, which are the pockets housing the two hemipenes, one on each side. Turning the gecko over, the males tend to have thicker, heavier necks.

Because the sex of the gecko is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, many breeders incubate to produce more female geckos than males. So, you may find more females for sale than males. Females usually lay two eggs at a time, so by examining the underside of a gravid female, you may be able to see the eggs, one on each side, through the translucent skin. But, there are also two symmetrical fat pads found in the abdomen that can look like eggs to the inexperienced herper.

I hope that helps you to know whether you have a Frances or Francis.

Need a Herp Vet?

If you are looking for a herp-knowledgeable veterinarian in your area, a good place to start is by checking the list of members on the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarian (ARAV) web site at www.arav.com. Look for DVMs who appear to maintain actual veterinary offices that you could contact.

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