Male vs Female Leopard Gecko – How to Tell the Differences

It might be hard to tell the gender of a leopard gecko at a distant glance or when the gecko is running around in the vivarium. The reptiles have characteristic features underneath them that enable a breeder to differentiate male and female geckos. Here are some of the ways to observe the characteristics of each gender in order to tell the difference.

How to tell the sex (gender) of a leopard gecko

Male vs female leopard gecko

The gender of a leopard gecko can be known by looking at some features on the underside of the reptile. Picking up a gecko is the best way to make such observations, however, if you roughly handle the reptile, it will get shocked which will result in a bite. It is advisable to quietly approach the tank, place your palm gently in front of the gecko and herd him to your hand cradling him. Here’s a guide on leopard gecko bites.

Hold the gecko with slight pressure to keep him from slipping out of your hand, this is opposed to snatching him up. When you grab their tail, the leopard gecko will drop the tail as a defense mechanism leavening him exposed to infections before he grows another one.

The other way to tell the sex of the gecko is to put him inside a transparent glass tank and observe from beneath. This will relieve the reptile from the stress of direct contact and moving him around or falling from your grip.

Below are some of the characteristics to look out for:

Preanal Pores

Both female and male geckos have pores known as preanal pores. The female pores cannot be seen by the naked eye while the male’s pores are easily visible. The leopard gecko excretes waxy substances with pheromones through these pores.

The reptile then rubs the substance on the surfaces of the rocks and his tank to let other geckos that this is his territory. The pheromones also help the gecko to court when they are at their active sexual level. If your leopard gecko is male, you should be able to see small doted pores in a V-formation. 

Hemipenal Bulges

Male sexual organs of leopard geckos are known as hemipenes. When the gecko is sexually mature the hemipenes develop as two bulges beneath the leopard gecko’s vent at the horizontal slit in the base of his tail. The bulges hide the hemipenes until the male leopard gecko is ready to mate with a female. Hemipenal bulges are not too big but are noticeable to the human eye. This way, you will be able to tell whether you have a male or a female gecko as the females do not develop bulges.

There are other physical features that differentiate the sex of the geckos which are:

  • There are male leopard gecko species with femoral pores similar to the preanal pores. The only difference is that they are on the back legs of the reptile and form a straight line. They are at the lower part of your gecko’s tail and have a small, thorn-like structure. Both male and female have these cloacal spurs but the male gecko has larger spurs than the female.
  • Male geckos have large body frames and are bigger in size than female geckos. The male reptile geckos have heads that are broader with a thicker physical appearance.

These features alone cannot guarantee whether you have a male or female gecko. Sometimes the female leopard geckos are of the same size as the males and have depressions that resemble femoral pores and show decadal bulges that are identical to males.


READ ALSO: 12 Great Female Leopard Gecko Names [With Meanings]


Male vs Female Leopard Geckos Differences

Male and female leopard geckos have distinctive characteristics that differentiate them. The two genders are different in size, behavior, and life span. Here are some noticeable differences in both male and female geckos.

Chirp Noises from the gecko

Male geckos are territorial reptiles and they make chirp sounds to warn other approaching geckos of their territory.

The male chirps get louder as the gecko feels more threatened by other geckos. Chirp noises are also meant to call female geckos for mating, and the male chirps to announce its presence during the breeding season. Female geckos make chirp noises when they are hungry and need to be fed. Read More: What Noises Do Geckos Make? Gecko Noises and Meanings

Temperament

Male leopard geckos show more aggression towards prey and they launch for their food during feeding time. The male reptile feeds more than the female and does not shy away from eating, they also show more curiosity, are relaxed and do not shy away from humans approaching their vivarium as opposed to the female gecko.

Leopard geckos are also best put in separate tanks, the male reptiles are territorial and fights will occur if the tank has more than one male. Leopard Gecko fights are deadly resulting in bites and exposed wounds that lead to infections.

Female geckos on the other hand try to intimidate their prey by shaking or waving their tail. They do not launch for prey like the male geckos but will take time to eat and enjoy their food slowly. The female reptiles get full after feeding and will refuse the last worm.

When a female gecko is ovulating the eating decreases or stops completely and during this time the gecko will depend on the fats stored in its tail. The female gecko is shy from human contact and likes hiding away under rocks and prefers to be left alone unless it is feeding time.

Movements

Leopard geckos clean their eyes by licking them to get rid of any dirt or debris. This is common with both males and females since most gecko species do not have eyelids. The geckos might also scratch their head with the back of their leg to get rid of debris or remove skin stuck during shedding.

The reptiles also shake their tail in a wave like movement to intimidate prey or any animal approaching and this is a defensive display.

Life span

Male geckos live longer than female geckos with proper care and fewer health issues. The male geckos have a more consistent pattern of eating and rarely skip meals unless they are ill.

Female geckos have a shorter lifespan than male geckos and breeding the female gecko too much will shorten their life span more.

Male leopard geckosFemale leopard geckos
They have two mounds at the base of their tailFemale geckos do not have mounds at the base of their tail
Male geckos have more visible preanal pores that are V-shapedFemale geckos have less visible preanal pores, the pores are virtually invisible
Male geckos have more visible femoral pores at the back of their thighFemale geckos have less visible femoral pores
Male leopard geckos are large and have broader heads and necksFemale leopard geckos are smaller in size with a narrower frame, head and neck

Differences in baby geckos

There is no much difference between male and female baby geckos and it is hard to tell the gender when the gecko is below 10 months old. The sexual organs are not yet developed and they only become visible when the gecko reaches sexual maturity or a young adult. The temperature during incubation can be used to determine the sex of the gecko although it does not fully guarantee the gender.

At 10 months the baby leopard gecko becomes a young adult exposing bulges before the cloaca or pores that enable the breeder to determine the gender of the gecko

Is it better to have a male or female gecko?

Male leopard geckos live longer with proper care, feeding and fewer health-related issues. The male geckos have better physical looks compared to the female gecko. Wider heads with large bodies give male leopard geckos a better physique making pet owners pick them out more than the female.

The female geckos get smaller during the ovulation period when they stop eating and lose appetite giving the reptile breeder a stressful time. As the female gecko loses weight during this period, the reptile can easily fall sick putting them at higher risk of diseases.

Male leopard geckos have a more consistent feeding pattern and in good environmental conditions, rarely fall sick making them easier and better to have than the female leopard gecko.

Can a male and female leopard gecko live together?

Female leopard geckos cannot live in the same tank as male leopard geckos because the species are very territorial and will fight off any threat. It is recommended to keep the geckos in separate tanks to avoid situations where the geckos fight and cause injury to one another. Fights often lead to stress or injuries that will make the geckos lay off food. This results in geckos losing weight and possible infections caused by the exposed injuries.

The females are also best separated from baby leopard geckos to avoid attacks and injuries on the baby reptiles. It is best to have each gecko in its own vivarium and put them together only during the breeding season. Male and female geckos do not coexist well in the same tank.


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