We’ve all seen Jurassic Park and know how cool the Dilophosaurus was in it. The frilled dragon is pretty much a miniature Dilophosaurus (minus the toxic spit). If you are thinking about getting a frilled dragon (Chlamydosaurus kingii), or want to learn a bit about this lizard species, you’ve come to the right place. This article covers frilled dragon behavior, care, characteristics, and much more!
Frilled Dragon Background
Frilled dragons go by many common names – frilled dragon, frilled lizard, and frill necked lizard to name a few. This species is natively found in woodland parts of Australia, where they spend most of their time suspended off the ground in trees and shrubs. Frilled dragons are insectivores for the most part, but have been known to eat small species of vertebrates such as baby mice. This species gets rather large, with adults reaching lengths of over 2 feet long.
The frilled dragon gets its name from the distinct tuft of skin that wraps around their neck. This flap of skin can project itself outward when a frilled dragon gets frightened, exposing a bright orange coloration. It is theorized that the projected frill makes the lizard appear larger and more frightening to would-be predators. Males will also use this flap of skin during mating to attract females. Although the frill is usually bright orange, it can range from almost black to light yellow in color. Another, perhaps less obvious, advantage to their frill is enhanced thermoregulation. These lizards bask in the sun for about an hour a day, and their frill can aid in maintaining proper body temperature by absorbing more heat. In addition to their unique frill, another interesting characteristic of frilled dragons is their ability to run bipedally for short distances.
There are a few different color morphs for this species. Specimens from Northern Australia are usually more brown in color when compared to their New Guinean counterparts, which are usually mottled gray in pattern. Captive breeding efforts have created varying colorations from light gray to dark brown.
Frilled Dragon Care
Given their arboreal nature, a frilled dragon should be given a rather tall enclosure that is at least 4 feet high and 3 feet wide (juvenile frilled dragons can be kept in slightly smaller enclosures). Coco-fiber based substrated are fine for this species and limit the risk of impaction. Gut impaction from substrates in captivity is uncommon with frilled dragons, but the probability increases from using sand, gravel, or crushed walnut (so these substrates are not recommended). Some hobbyists use repticarpet or newspaper for substrate, since they decrease of the risk of impaction to zero and are easy to clean/replace.
The ideal frilled dragon enclosure consists of live broad-leaf plants and many branches/perches for climbing. Plants are optional, but branches, perches, and vines are a requirement. It should be noted that having live plants will help with holding humidity levels and providing clean air for your frilled dragon.
This species requires UVB lighting in order to produce Vitamin D3. A heat lamp is recommended in order to create a basking spot for your lizard.
Humidity and Temperature:
The frilled dragon prefers a temperature range of about 100F to 75F. Providing a temperature gradient with a basking side of 100F and a cool side of 75F is highly recommended. These lizards like moderate humidity levels (about 50%). Keep humidity levels within 40-60% by misting daily.
Mostly carnivorous, frilled dragons love to munch on crickets, roaches, and silkworms. Dusting and gut-loading prey items is recommended in order to provide essential nutrients for your frilled dragon. This species also has a slightly herbivorous side, and will eat veggies and fruits. Acceptable veggies include chopped carrots, collard greens, and peas. Most of their diet should consist of insects, though. Adults should be fed once daily, with care not to overfeed. Uneaten prey items constantly crawling around can stress a frilled dragon out. Juveniles will need to be fed twice daily.
Clean water must be offered daily through the form of a water dish and misting.
A No-Frills Conclusion (Pun Intended)
Although a bit costly ($100+), a frilled dragon makes a great inhabitant for your vacant large enclosure. They have a calm disposition and are rather easy to care for. If you are in the market for a unique pet that will constantly draw attention from guests to your home, a frilled dragon may be right for you!
Check out this video featuring frilled dragons: