It can be difficult to work out if a reptile is a male or female as often there is very little if any external differences between the sexes. This is in contrast to most mammals where gender determination is generally straight forward. Birds are also becoming increasingly easier to sex as we now have access to incredible DNA technology where we can tell the sex of your bird from 1 drop of blood — unfortunately this technology is not yet available for reptiles. A good example is if your reptile is a male it cannot suffer from conditions like dystocia difficulty giving birth but may be more aggressive towards other males in the cage. If you have a male python it may be more prone to brumating similar to hibernating and not eating for longer than a female during the cooler months of the year. Visual sex determination Some reptiles have obvious sexual dimorphism where the males look quite different to the females. Many geckos are a good example of this as the males develop a much larger bulge just caudal towards the tail to their cloaca. Several dragon and monitor species also have external differences with the males often having larger heads, more obvious femoral pores, growing to a larger size and in some cases having larger spurs at their tail base. Some species of turtles also have external differences in shell shape and tail length with the males tail generally being longer. This bulge shows where the hemipenes the reptile equivalent of a penis sits and is only present in males.
How in the world do you tell whether a snake is male or female? It is so difficult, right? Well, I did some research on the topic and have written it down to share with you. Male snakes can most easily be differentiated from females because they have thicker tails. If this does not clearly show the difference, a probe can be inserted in the slit in front of the tail to feel for a hemipenes. Trying to tell by just looking for hemipenes is actually harder than it sounds. Male and female snakes have very different shaped tails.
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