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Female Vs Male Iguanas

exotic pets, small pets

Knowing the sex of an iguana isn’t particularly essential. Iguanas, by nature, are not affectionate creatures. But, the consistent provision of food and warmth will create a bond between the pet and the owner. Iguanas do appreciate having their heads rubbed by their humans. They do make wonderful pets. 

However, if you’ve just brought home a pet iguana, then discovering the gender of your reptilian friend will allow you to provide better gender-specific care. Furthermore, it will be helpful in the long run to know about the sex of your pets, particularly if you have multiple iguanas.

Unwanted breeding, male territorial aggression during the breeding season, and even domination of a larger iguana over the smaller-sized cage mates are all problems faced by iguana owners who keep more than one.

So, what’s the difference between male and female iguanas? Among other physical differences, male iguanas tend to be bigger and wider than females. They also have longer spines trailing down their back and larger dewlaps beneath their chins. Behaviorally, males are more aggressive during mating season.

If the real reason you want to discover more about the differences between male and female iguanas is that you want to make an informed decision about which gender would make a better pet, then you’re in the right place. Read on!

How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Male And Female Iguana?

It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a male and female iguana when both are young. Male and female iguanas look the same when they are younger.

However, when male iguanas reach sexual maturity, they develop different physical attributes. Depending upon the species, male iguanas reach sexual maturity as early as eighteen months or as late as seven years. Female iguanas reach sexual maturity by the age of two. 

The only sure-fire way of being able to tell the difference in genders in juvenile iguanas is if you take your pet to the vet. The vet will have to probe the cloacal vent to be able to tell with surety the sex of the iguana.

The Physical Characteristics Of Male And Female Iguanas

As mentioned earlier, it isn’t an easy task to tell whether you have a male or a female iguana until it has reached adulthood. Only after iguanas reach sexual maturity will the difference between male and female iguanas become evident.

Male Iguanas

Mature iguanas are both physically longer and thicker than adult female iguanas. They can reach sizes anywhere between 6-7 feet in length from their nose to the tip of their tail. The males tend to have bumps on top of their heads, and they have longer spikes that go down the length of their back.

Additionally, males have more prominent dewlaps under the chin than females. Even the muscles next to their jaws are larger than those of mature females. 

The muscles are so obvious that they give the appearance of swollen jowls. Furthermore, the males develop large femoral pores on the inside of their legs. Lastly, only male iguanas have two hemipenal bulges on their belly near the tail.

Female Iguanas

The adult female iguana may not be quite as large as the male, but they have longer, leaner bodies. A female iguana rarely exceeds 5 feet in length and weighs around eleven to twenty pounds. Mature females do not have bumps on their heads and even have smaller heads than adult male iguanas.

The dewlap and jowls of the female iguana are also smaller in size. Some reptiles can lay eggs without mating with a male. If you have a couple of eggs in your iguana’s enclosure, then you certainly have a female iguana on your hands. 

Also, during the breeding season, your female will get real thin around the legs and tail and will exhibit a bulging belly.

Temperamental Differences Between Male And Female Iguanas

It seems that most novice iguana owners believe that the sex of the iguana greatly influences the temperament. There is some truth to this, as male iguanas do become quite aggressive during the mating season.

When you look at the disposition of the male and female iguana outside the mating and breeding season, you will realize that there’s very little or no difference between the two sexes.

Suppose you want a reptilian pet that is friendly and not aggressive. In that case, you need to look at other factors such as genetics, environment, and socialization instead of the gender of your cold-blooded buddy. 

If you have adopted a pet from stressful situations, you are more likely to have an aggressive or reclusive reptile. On the flip side, if your pet comes from a home where it has been handled well and had early socialization, then you will have a reasonably mild-tempered and friendly pet on your hands.

But here are the slight differences between male and female iguanas for your reference.

Male Iguanas

Adult males exhibit territorial instincts and can quickly become agitated. 

Animal experts claim that even when male iguanas don’t have a female, their instinct is to look for one. When a male iguana is irritable, it will likely swing its tail more and may even resort to biting.

The adult male iguana will undergo physical changes too during the mating season. During the dry, hot season, which is the mating period for most iguana species, males change color. 

A green iguana can change into bright red or orange to appear more attractive to the female iguana. As the testosterone levels are running high in males, they become hostile. Not to mention, males are seen to whip their tails more out of frustration and eat less. 

Female Iguanas

Females that are sexually mature fend off the overtures of multiple male iguanas. In the absence of male iguanas, your female might become reclusive and withdrawn.

Your female iguana can lay a set of infertile eggs without a mate, but they will, of course, need to mate if you want to breed them. Most mature females don’t change color, but they do divert their energies towards building their nests. 

The one significant difference between male and female iguanas during the breeding season is that you will have to make extra sure that your female iguana is hydrated when it starts to bulge with eggs. You will have to provide a calcium-rich diet to prevent egg binding. Egg binding can be fatal for female iguanas, so it is definitely a situation you want to avoid.

Deciding Between Male Or Female Iguanas

If you really want to be sure about what gender you want your pet to be, then there are a few things you ought to consider.

1. Age

There’s no way to ensure that your iguana will be a male or a female until it has matured. Or if the breeder or pet store you buy your pet from will allow a short visit to the vet, which is unlikely. So, if you do want a specific gender of iguana, then go for an adult iguana.

2. Amount Of Space Available

If you have a tiny spot where you want to place your iguana’s enclosure, you should go for a female iguana. Male iguanas grow bigger and thicker and often need more space too.  

With a male that can grow bigger than five feet, it’s best to evaluate the amount of area you have for your pet. However, if the enclosure for your pet is too small, you should reconsider getting any pet at all. Both male and female iguanas require room to move, climb, roam, and explore.

3. Multiple Iguanas

If you want to have more than one reptilian friend as a pet, then you should go with female iguanas. Female iguanas do often tolerate other female iguanas.

On the other hand, male iguanas cannot be kept together when they become pretty combative during mating season. Keeping two mature male iguanas in a single enclosure can result in injuries or even death for one of your pets. 

4. Desired Personality

Male iguanas may be more aggressive during the mating season. But, on the whole, male iguanas are also more adventurous and curious. If your pet has had early socialization, then it may even be relatively friendly as well. Female iguanas have more hermit-like natures where they prefer their own company.


Both male and female iguanas are superbly popular pets. It is a bit tricky to try and make up your mind about the kind of pet you want if you look at aspects such as gender alone. At the same time, mature male iguanas are notorious for losing their calm during mating season. It is also true that males are more curious and fun on other days. 

However, if you are looking for a calm and sedate sort of reptile, then you should place your bets on a female iguana. But, remember that whichever gender you choose, your pet will need your care, attention, and love to live a long, healthy, and happy life. 

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