Top 10 Frilled Lizard Facts – A Lizard With A Giant Frill

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Quick Facts

Scientific Name:  Chlamydosaurus kingii

Common Names: Frilled Lizard, Frilled-necked lizard, Frilled Agama, Frilled Dragon

Geographic Range: Australia, Papua New Guinea

Life Span: 20 Years

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Top 10 List

1. The most defining characteristic of the Frilled Lizard is their frill. 

Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
Frilled Lizard with sharp teeth showing.
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Frilled Dragons are generally a mix of brown and grey, with darker browns and greys mottled in, in order to help them camouflage in with the trees. However their colour does depend on their habitat (explained more in fact 2), with lizards in dry clay habitats having more reds and oranges, while the ones in tropical habitats have darker browns and greys. They are a larger kind of reptile, being up to grow up to 3 feet long, 2/3rds of which is tail. They can also weigh up to 1.1 pounds, with males tending to be larger than females. 

And of course, their neck frill. Frilled Lizards have a neck frill, that usually lays folded back against their head and neck. The frill is supported by long spines of cartilage, connected to their jaw bone. This is why the frilled lizard always has their frill displayed and their mouth open at the same time, because they are connected to one another. Their frill tends to be brighter than their bodies, and can have a mix of yellow, black, orange, red, and brown. It can also reach up to 1 foot across, helping the lizard to appear larger than it is. 

2. Their location can determine their appearance, making them great at camouflage. 

Frilled Lizard
Frilled Lizard

Frilled Lizards have a difference appearance based on where they are located. The two localities are the New Guinea population, and the Australian population. These differences in appearance help them camouflage easily into their different habitats. Scott Corning who owns DragonAttack and SailfinDragon.com wrote an article for reptiles magazine ( you can read it here), and explained the difference between the two.  Below is the description between the two that he wrote. 

New Guinea

  • Size: Males typically measure between 24 and 26 inches, and females are between 16 and 22 inches.
  • Body: Larger New Guinea frilled dragons seem to have a less distinct body pattern than some Australians.
  • Neck Frill: Although colors vary, many New Guinea dragons have a yellow-and-black-speckled frill sometimes intertwined with a rust or maroon color.
  • Personality: Seem shyer than Australian frillies.
  • Availability: More common but often wild caught.

Australia

  • Size: Males average 30 to 36 inches and might grow larger, and females measure between 22 and 28 inches.
  • Body: Many Australian frilled dragons have some form of small-to-large whitish cheek patch, which is more noticeable when their frills are extended. Some larger males also have a much darker head. The body pattern may have some tight banding or muted blotches.
  • Neck Frill: Although colors vary, Australians may have more intense coloration within the frill. Much less black and more color is mixed in for a bolder show when the frill is extended.
  • Personality: Seem bolder than New Guinea frillies.
  • Availability: Only available when bred in captivity. Australia does not export its animals.

3. Frilled Dragons are carnivorous lizards. 

Frilled Lizard
Frilled Lizard
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Life many lizards, Frilled Lizards are carnivores. Their main diet consists of cicadas, beetles, termites, and mice, with butterflies, moths, and their larvae being their favourites. While they are mainly insectivores, they will occasionally feed on spiders, other lizards, and as mentioned before – mice. 

Like most agamid lizards, they are ambush predators. This means they lay in hiding waiting for their prey to stumble past them, at which time they will attack their prey. When they do eat, frilled lizards tend to eat in abundance. This is most common during the wet season, in which they can ingest hundreds to thousands of termites, ants, and other prey items. 

4. The Frilled Lizard is found in areas of Australia and New Guinea.

Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
Frilled Lizard
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The frilled Lizard is found mainly in the northern regions of Australia and southern New Guinea, however there have been rare sightings of them in the lower desert regions of Australia. They are often found in warm humid climates like the tropical savannah woodlands found in northern Australia. Since they are arboreal lizards, they only inhabit areas with a good amount of trees for them to hide in. 

5. Temperature of the eggs during incubation can dictate the gender of the babies.

Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
Frilled Lizard
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Frilled Lizards will breed in the early wet season, which is September and October. Males will fight with each other in order to be able to mate with a female, which can include displaying their frills, and biting each other. During the mid wet season (November to February) the female will lay 1 to 2 clutches of 6 – 25 soft-shelled eggs. She lays them in nests that are 5 – 20 cm below ground, mainly in sunny areas. The eggs will incubate here for 2 – 3 months, after which the lizards will hatch and weigh only 3 – 5 grams. These hatchlings are completely self-sufficient, and are on their own from day one. 

The gender of the hatchling is partially determined by the temperature they were incubated at. Cooler temperatures tend to produce only female babies, while medium to hot temperatures will produce more of a mix, with a slightly higher male ratio. 

6. Frilled lizards are able to run on their two back feet.

A frilled lizard running (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
Frilled Lizard Running
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Frilled Lizards are arboreal lizards that spend most of their days basking in the safety of the trees. They will however descend in order to catch food. They are solitary lizards that only come together for breeding season, and are willing to fight each other to keep their territory safe. 

The Frilled Lizard has a couple unique defense mechanisms. When they feel threatened they will rise up on their hind legs, open their mouth as wide as they can, and display their large frills. They will also let out a hissing sound as a warning. If this does not work to scare off the predator, they will turn around, and run on their hind legs until they reach the safety of a tree. 

7. Their common name is easy to figure out as it refers to the frills around their neck.

Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
Frilled Lizard
Source

The Frilled Lizard, Frilled Dragon, and all other variations are called so because of the frills around their necks. The dragon refers to the fact that they are part of the agamid group. 

Their scientific name is made up of a few different parts. Chlamydosaurus is made up of a couple different Greek Words. Chlamydo means cloaked or mantled, referring to the lizards frills. Saurus means lizard, which is self-explanatory. Kingii is a Latinized form of Phillip Parker Kings last name. King was the captain of the ship that first collected the specimen in 1825. 

8. The Frilled Lizard has been depicted on many images and in many films due to its unique look. 

The frilled lizard has a very unique look compared to other lizards, and the frill is icon. This has lead the frilled lizard to be included in various parts of human culture such as:

  • They were featured on the reverse of the Australian 2-cent coin until 1991.
  • A Frilled Lizard named “Lizzie” was the mascot for the 2000 Summer Paralympic Games. 
  • It features on the emblem of the Northern Australian regiment NOFORCE
  • A Frilled Lizard named “Frank” appeared in the 1990 Disney animated film “The Rescuers Down Under”.
  • In the 1993 film “Jurassic Park” the dino Dilophosaurus was portrayed as having a frilled neck as well.   

9. Frilled Lizards are kept as pets by many keepers.

Frilled Lizards are popular pets for reptile keepers, however their popularity has seemed to decline slightly recently. Australian Frilled Lizards are only available for sale with captive bred animals, as Australia does not allow the exportation of their animals. As always proper temperatures, tank size, and food are extremely important to keeping this pet healthy. If wild caught animals are bought, babies are easier to acclimatize than adults, however a vet should always be seen for a check-up to detect parasites. 

10. The frilled Lizard can sometimes get confused for the Eastern Bearded Dragon.

The Frilled Lizard is sometimes confused for the Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pagona Barbata). The Eastern Bearded Dragon is also found in Australia and is also an agamid. When the frilled lizard has it’s frills pushed back, they also have a slight resemblance. Due to this confusion, and adding to the confusion, one of the Eastern Bearded Dragons common names is the frilly lizard.  

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