Frill Necked Lizards

Caring for Frill Necked Lizards

Frill Necked Lizard
Frill necked lizard with frill out and mouth open. kuritafsheen / Getty Images

Frill necked lizards, also referred to as frilled lizards and frilled dragons are amazing reptiles. They are bipedal and have a beautiful frill around their neck that may remind you of a prehistoric Dilophosaurus. These may not be the most commonly seen pet reptile (although the original Jurassic Park movie made them quite popular), but that is no excuse to overlook the proper care of these exotic creatures.

Housing Frill Necked Lizards

Frill necked lizards, Chlamydosaurus kingii, are originally from Australia and New Guinea where they are arboreal reptiles. They are unique lizards that spend most of their time in trees clinging to the trunks and eating native insects and vertebrates. Depending on what area of Australia or New Guinea the lizard is found in, the coloration of the skin may vary to help that specific lizard fit in to their environment and be better camouflaged. 

As pets, frill necked lizards need an environment with 55-65% humidity and temperatures between 75-100 degrees Fahrenheit. A combination of heat lights and UVB lights are needed to obtain optimal temperatures and appropriate UVB exposure during the day.

Frill necked lizards usually only venture out of the trees to eat or fight but you should house them in a large tank, at least a 55 gallon, to allow them to move about when they want to.

Screened enclosures allow for more climbing opportunities but do not hold in humidity like a glass tank does. As with all reptiles, you should do your best to mimic a natural environment for the best possible mental and physical health of your pet.

Diet of Frill Necked Lizards

Frill necked lizards eat a variety of foods.

Crickets and superworms are the most readily available to pet owners and should be dusted with a calcium and multi-vitamin supplement every other day. Frill necked lizards will also eat butterworms, silkworms, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, split peas and green beans. Waxworms, mealworms, mice and fruit should be offered sparingly if you decide to give some to your lizard.

Providing enrichment during feeding time is not only entertaining to watch but it is also mentally stimulating for your lizard. Try attaching an empty toilet paper roll to a branch and allow your lizard to catch some insects inside the roll.

Activity of Frill Necked Lizards

Frill necked lizards can live up to 15 years in captivity with proper care. They are well known for running on their hind legs to escape a predator and will expose the frill around their neck when threatened (which is how they got their name). When feeling especially threatened, they will stand up on their hind legs, frill out their neck, open their mouth and spit, exposing tiny little teeth in their mouth. They don't whip their tails in defense in the wild like an iguana would (but some owners report their pet frillies whipping their tails at them), but instead jump at the animal and perform the aforementioned threatened routine.

Breeding Frill Necked Lizards

If breeding your frill necked lizards is being attempted (or done accidentally), remember November through February are the ideal months for laying clutches of eggs. Up to 25 soft shelled eggs may be laid in a clutch and sometimes two clutches are laid in a season. They must remain in soil at least five centimeters deep and kept at a minimum of 86 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three months until they are done incubating and hatch.

Appearance of Frill Necked Lizards

Frill necked lizards will grow to be between 70 and 90 cm long, including the tail, and males are usually larger than females. While they do come in a variety of colors, there is only one documented species of frill necked lizards. The body of the lizard is darker than the frill, which is often a yellow or orange color, but as mentioned prior, colors can vary depending on which region or country your frillie is originally from.

There is no question that these are unique, beautiful reptiles. Frill-necked lizards were even pictured on the Australian two cent coin until 1991 and no other animal is included in the Chlamydosaurus genus (making them even more special for having their own genus).