Is It A Fact That Bearded Dragons Can Change Their Gender If So How And Why Do They Do This?

Scientists have been trying to figure out how temperature affects reptile species’ ability to switch their gender for over fifty years. It has never been observed in the wild, at least not in reptiles. Researchers may be whisked away with the help of Australia’s bearded dragon. High temperatures cause their chromosomal sex determination to be overridden, resulting in sex-reversed female progeny. According to a recent study, bearded dragon lizards’ gender is being affected by hotter temperatures. Continue reading to know if is it a fact that bearded dragons can change their gender If so how and why do they do this?

What Causes Bearded Dragons to Change Gender?

Sex determination in Australian bearded dragons depends on either chromosomal or temperature-dependent factors. The gender of a bearded dragon, however, is determined by both the sex chromosomes and the environmental temperatures it experiences while developing. Their chromosomal makeup determines which gender they are when the temperature is normal. Bearded dragons with male chromosomes, however, exhibit sex reversal and transform into females when temperatures are high. Because other reptiles are sensitive to low temperatures, beardies are thus by far the only reptiles identified to undergo sex reversal at high temperatures (except snakes, which rely on sex chromosomes).

How Can Bearded Dragons Change Their Gender?

According to a study, a bearded dragon, the most common reptile owned as a pet, has the potential to switch gender via two alternative sets of genes, either through sex chromosomes or by high temperature. Understanding this mechanism is essential to comprehending how reptiles interact evolutionarily and ecologically with their environment, especially during climate changes. As mentioned above, bearded dragons, unlike other reptiles, use both chromosomal and temperature sex determination mechanisms. Unless their eggs are incubated at high temperatures, they maintain their chromosomal sequence. Their TSD system then begins to distinguish between genders.

Chromosomes were formerly used to determine the gender of bearded dragons. Their sex chromosomes are Z and W, similar to birds, rather than X and Y. The male is ZZ and the female is ZW. Every bearded dragon possesses a Z, while the presence of a W designates a genetic female. 

Because their chromosomal sex-determination system is overridden by high temperatures, bearded dragons provide an unusual model system. Eggs’ gender is determined by their chromosomes while incubated under 32℃ (89.6℉), but when temperatures rise over 32℃, an increasing proportion of eggs develop into females, independent of their chromosomal composition. At 36 °C (96.8 °F), 100% of genetic males turn into sex-reversed (ZZf) females.

High temperatures also stimulate the overexpression of stress genes and the production of stress hormones. Extreme temperatures may mess with the RNA of two genes, causing bearded dragon lizard embryos to change gender.

Male-to-Female Bearded Dragons Are Better Mothers Than Chromosomal Females:

These male-to-female lizards can breed exactly like female lizards, and they may even have a benefit above chromosomally female lizards. These MTF lizards have been seen to produce nearly twice as many eggs as conventional females, and they appear to have even greater maternal instincts, which might provide an example to the bearded lizard species’ progeny to help them become even stronger and better. Furthermore, the gender of these bearded dragons’ progeny is no longer decided by chromosomes, but by temperature.

Furthermore, only ZZ offspring are always produced when a normal (ZZm) male bearded dragon breeds with a sex-reversed (ZZf) bearded dragon. The fact that the gender of the offspring produced by this specific pairing is completely determined by incubation temperature, however, indicates that some type of permanent genetic alteration has taken place. In reality, previous studies show that this heritable genetic alteration is the entire deletion of the W chromosome.

Are only bearded dragons capable of changing their gender?

No. There are many other creatures in the globe that change their sexes depending on circumstances, temperature, or other variables, yet bearded dragons are the only species to have their unusual gender switch officially recorded.

The temperature of the eggs during incubation affects the gender of green sea turtles as well. Cooler temperatures favor males whereas higher temperatures favor females. Another interesting gender characteristic of cardinals is that the color of their feathers varies depending on their sexes, with males having red feathers and females having brown-grey feathers. Though, some cardinals have a combination of both.

Conventional mating behaviors have not been seen in these combination cardinals, but they also don’t appear to be social birds.


We hope this article will help you in understanding if is it a fact that bearded dragons can change their gender If so how and why do they do this? The temperature around the incubation of eggs determines the sex of most reptiles; the exception is snakes, whose sexuality is decided by their sex chromosomes. The gender of bearded dragons is determined by both the environmental temperatures around the eggs and the sex chromosomes. A relatively small proportion of animals have the ability to change their gender, making this phenomenon highly uncommon. These MTF females make excellent mothers in a variety of ways.

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