Keepers often want to know the sex of their Crested Gecko for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is simple curiosity! At other times it is for breeding purposes, knowing what name to choose, or tank setup. Males housed together will usually fight.
There are no major male gecko vs female gecko differences when keeping them as pets. Most hatchlings are sold without knowing their gender.
I got my first Crested Gecko, Spencer, in 2006 when he was 1 month old. There was no way to tell whether he was male or female at that time and he was too small to handle very often. After a few months, one day, as I was handling him, I noticed that there was a distinct bulge that hadn’t been there before!
Keep reading as I share how to sex a Crested Gecko based on my 19 years of experience breeding.
- Crested Gecko males and females look the same at hatching and cannot be sexed until they are about 25 grams in weight (around 6-9 months of age).
- The easiest way to sex a Crested Gecko adult is to look for two hemipenal bulges at the base of the tail. Two bulges indicate male, females don’t have these bulges and the area at the base of the tail will be flat and smooth.
- Males also have rows of pitted scales (pre-anal pores) along their hind legs near the vent, but they are very hard to see.
- There are other subtle differences, such as size and behavior, but these differences are not always present which makes it very difficult to assess accurately.
- In extremely rare cases, a Crested Gecko could have both male and female sex organs (hermaphroditism).
How To Tell If A Crested Gecko Is Male Or Female
Based on my experience the only reliable way to sex Crested Geckos is to look for the presence or absence of hemipenal bulges near the vent. If you see two prominent rounded bulges, one on each side of the vent, the gecko is male. If you don’t see these bulges, the gecko is female.
To look for these bulges, you will want to look at the underside of an adult Crested Gecko, right behind the vent (where the droppings come out). If the gecko has a tail, the bulges will be right where the tail joins the body. If there is no tail, the bulges will be at the back end.
Sexing Crested Geckos
1. Hemipenal Bulges
The most reliable way to sex a Crested Gecko is to look for “hemipenal bulges” on either side of its vent.
Older juvenile and adult male Crested Geckos have two distinct hemipenal bulges, one on each side of the vent. Each of these bulges actually houses a penis, called the hemipenis, because each one is half (“hemi”) of their reproductive equipment. On some males you will be able to see two distinct bulges, and on others what looks like one large bulge.
A female Crested Gecko will have no bulges, and the area at the base of the tail will be flat and smooth.
If hemipenal bulges are present, they look so big that they can’t be missed. They can even be seen from above, looking at the gecko’s back at the base of the tail (pictured below).
The greatest difficulty with trying to determine a Crested Gecko’s sex happens when the gecko is too young to have begun to mature. If you buy a young juvenile, it may be impossible to sex it until you have had it for at least 3 months.
All hatchlings look as if they are female, with the base of the tail flat and smooth.
When a male Crested Gecko begins to reach sexual maturity, the hemipenal bulges will appear suddenly.
There are several other methods for sexing Crested Geckos which we discuss below. Just know that some of these methods are much more difficult to use and they are not consistent in all geckos.
2. Pre-anal Pores
Male Crested Geckos have a row of pitted scales (pre-anal pores) on their undersides running down the tops of their legs (pictured below).
These pitted scales are best viewed with a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe. Even with a magnifying glass, however, it is quite difficult to distinguish them from the other scales in the same area. To make things more complicated, some females may display similar looking scales, though they are usually not as deeply pitted.
Author Tip: Pre-anal pores may be easier to see during during breeding season as they emit a waxy substance in the presence of females.
This waxy substance contains pheromones which are responsible for attracting a mate to breed. They are like scents used to attract females, but can also be used to mark territory.
3. Cloacal Spurs
Crested Geckos have two small, usually white, projections on either side of the vent (“cloaca” is another name for “vent”). Some keepers say that the cloacal spurs are larger in the male, or absent in the female.
In my experience, and that of others, this is not the case.
Pictured below is my female with two large, white cloacal spurs.
4. Body Size and Shape
Some care guides state that male Crested Geckos are larger in general and have larger heads or stockier bodies.
This is not universally true. My 3 females are larger than my 2 males. My largest male, Spencer, is just 67 grams, compared with the 85 grams of my largest female.
In addition, comparing Crested Gecko size is not very useful.
If you are adopting a juvenile, the body size, weight and shape of males and females is all very similar. When adopting an adult, the ones for sale are rarely kept in close enough proximity to each other to compare them.
Some keepers claim that males are more “outgoing” and that females are shyer.
I have not found this to be true in my Crested Gecko collection.
What Age Can You Tell?
Male vs female Crested Geckos look the same at hatching and cannot be sexed until they are about 25 grams in weight (around 6-9 months of age).
Based on my experience, the only reliable way to sex Crested Geckos is to look for the presence of hemipenal bulges. This will only work for geckos who have reached sexual maturity, so definitively sexing a baby or juvenile is not possible.
Crested Geckos reach maturity at around 21 grams, according to reptile care author Philippe de Vosjoli. Since cresties grow at very different rates, they may reach this weight at very different ages, though 6-9 months is a good indicator.
Male vs Female Crested Geckos
There are very few actual differences between male and females. Most of the differences are due to the results of breeding and laying eggs.
When planning to buy a pet gecko, the only reason to look for a male or female is if you don’t want to deal with the possibility of a female laying (infertile) eggs.
|Size||8-10 inches long.||Some are smaller, but not necessarily.|
|Color||Normal colors like green, yellow, brown, gray and red.||No difference.|
|Behavior||Some have been labeled as more outgoing, but not always.||Some have been labeled as shy, but not always.|
|Health||Very healthy if cared for properly.||Will often lay eggs (even without the benefit of a male) so need to be watched for calcium deficiency.|
|Lifespan||Up to 20 years.||May have a shorter lifespan due to breeding and the stress of egg laying.|
|Diet||Happy to be fed a complete Crested Gecko Diet.||May need additional calcium if laying eggs.|
|Development||Begins to show signs of being male at 20-25 grams.||No visible changes as it grows.|
Male and female crested geckos are more similar than they are different:
- Both can display any color or pattern and are similar in size at 8-10 inches long.
- They enjoy Crested Gecko diet equally and, both males and females have the same potential to enjoy live feeder insects.
- Male and females are active and inquisitive, exploring their whole cage with interest. This is despite the fact that some breeders consider females to be less “outgoing”.
- If cared for properly, both will enjoy healthy, active lives with a lifespan of upto 20 years.
The two main differences between male vs female Crested Geckos are that males have hemipenal bulges and females may lay eggs.
- Males have easily-visible hemipenal bulges on either side of the vent. They also have a line of pores (scales with small holes) that run from the front of the vent down the inside of the legs
- A more significant difference is that the female often lays eggs, even if she’s never been with a male. There’s a possibility that the lifespan of a female crested gecko may be slightly shorter than that of a male, since the egg-laying takes more of a toll on her body. This will be minimized if she is watched carefully and has enough calcium reserves during laying season (roughly January-July in the Northern Hemisphere).
Some keepers may prefer to adopt a male Crested Gecko so they don’t have to deal with a female who may lay eggs.
This is the reason I chose to own a male bearded dragon, since the females lay 25 eggs!
Others may find the process of discovering eggs in the enclosure to be fun and exciting.
In my opinion, this is the only basis for making a decision to get a male or female Crested Gecko.