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Many people are drawn to exotic pets because of their unique characteristics and fascinating behaviors. However, identifying the sex of these animals can be a challenge for pet owners, which is why people turn to exotic vets. Knowing the sex of your pet is important for breeding purposes, but it can also help you provide the best care possible.

Learning how to identify the sex of your exotic pet can also help you build a stronger bond with your pet. Let’s look at some popular exotic pets and possible ways to determine their sex.


Checking the genital area is one of the most reliable ways to determine the sex of a rabbit. The genital area of a female rabbit tends to be more oval than circular. In contrast, a male rabbit will have a round structure that can be described as an “O” shape. The opening closest to the tail is the anus, which is identical in both males and females.

Rabbit owners will also observe that male rabbits tend to be more territorial and aggressive than females. They may also display mating behavior, such as mounting and thrusting. In contrast, female rabbits are generally more docile and calm.


Male and female hedgehogs have some physical differences that can help you determine their sex. In males, the penis is hidden in a penile sheath that sits in the mid-abdominal region. To get a visual, it resembles a large belly button. Females, on the other hand, have a vulva that is located near the anus. Look for a small, round opening that’s closer to the tail than the belly button.

Another way to tell if your hedgehog is male or female is to observe their behavior. Males tend to be more active and vocal than females, especially during the breeding season. They may run in circles and chase females, who will often make huffing noises and give other males the cold shoulder. Females, however, tend to be more docile and less active.


Male chinchillas have a penis and testicles that are visible when you gently lift their tail. On the other hand, female chinchillas have a genital area that looks like a small slit or dot. 

Again, male chinchillas tend to be more territorial and aggressive than females. They may also mark their territory by spraying urine. Meanwhile, female chinchillas tend to be more social and less aggressive. They may also be more vocal and active during their breeding season.


Flip your ferret over and look at the lower half of its torso. If its abdomen is smooth, it’s likely a female. If there’s a small bulge, it’s probably your male ferret’s penis. 

Note that male ferrets tend to be more aggressive and territorial than females. They may also mark their territory with urine. Female ferrets, on the other hand, may go into heat and become more vocal and restless.

Guinea Pigs

Female guinea pigs usually have a smooth swelling over their genital area. Use your fingers to part the genital opening gently. If the genital area forms a “Y” shape, this means the cavy is female. Additionally, female guinea pigs have a shorter distance between the anus and the genital opening compared to males.

Male guinea pigs, also known as boars, have a genital opening shaped like a small circular dot with a penis raised above the level of the surrounding skin. Adult male guinea pigs will also have noticeable testicles. These are visible below the bum area and can usually be seen from behind when your guinea pig is standing. 

Let the Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando Help You Determine the Sex of Your Pet

Identifying the sex of exotic pets can be a challenging task. However, with careful observation and research, it’s possible to determine the sex of most popular exotic pets.

It’s also important to note that not all exotic pets have obvious visible differences between males and females. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform DNA testing or consult with a veterinarian to determine the sex of the pet. Ultimately, your best bet is to get a professional opinion. Contact us today so we can help you determine the sex of your pet accurately.

Author: Santiago Diaz
As a veterinarian focused exclusively on avians, exotics, and wildlife, Dr. Díaz has lectured widely, including at a National Veterinary Conference, the Merck Merial Conference, the Morris Animal Foundation Conference, and at various veterinary technician schools throughout Florida. ​