Home | Field studies and notes | The Natural History and Captive Care of the Frilled Dragon or Frillneck Lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii – Part I, Frilled Dragons in the Wild

The Natural History and Captive Care of the Frilled Dragon or Frillneck Lizard, Chlamydosaurus kingii – Part I, Frilled Dragons in the Wild

The frilled dragon was a creature of legend to budding American herpetologiFrilled Dragonsts growing up in the 60’s and 70’s – we devoured what little published information existed, but seeing one alive was out of the question, short of a trip to its habitat.  It is still hard for me to imagine that, as a Bronx Zoo reptile keeper, I acquired my first 2 individuals a mere 15 or so years ago (at $1,500 each!).  Today these magnificent lizards are commercially bred in large numbers – both on “farms” in Indonesia and by herptoculturists worldwide.

Although not an “easy” species, and certainly one requiring a good deal of space, frilled dragons are among the most rewarding lizards to keep, and will provide you with a lifetime of interest and enjoyment.  This week we’ll take a look at their natural history, so that we can better understand how to provide for these fascinating animals in captivity.

Physical Description
The body color ranges from grayish through orange-brown to nearly black, often with dark variegations along the sides, and usually matches the color of local tree trunks.  The inner surface of the frill (the large skin fold about the neck) is shaded in yellow, black, orange and/or red.  The hind legs are powerfully built.  Males can reach 38 inches in length; females are somewhat smaller.

The neck frill is supported by cartilaginous rods and is connected to muscles in the tongue and jaw.  It expands when the lizard gapes its jaws and is used to intimidate predators and rivals, and in courtship displays.  Frilled dragons are one of the few lizards to use bipedal locomotion – they flee predators by rising up and running off on their rear legs.

Range and Habitat
Frilled dragons are found in northern Australia and southern New Guinea.  They frequent open tropical and warm temperate forest and wooded scrub land.

Largely arboreal, they dwell in the forest canopy during the dry season.  During this period the lizards reduce their food and water consumption, metabolic rate and body temperature.  The rainy season is largely spent on tree trunks within 4-15 feet of the ground.

In northern Australia and other parts of the range, frilled lizard habitat is subjected to frequent fires (natural and human induced, as a component of habitat management) during the dry season.  Field research has revealed that the lizards escape the fires by re-locating to the highest branches of large Eucalyptus trees.  Interestingly, it was also found that a number of individuals descend to the ground and shelter in abandoned termite nests during fires – a most unusual (and, it would seem, learned) behavior for an arboreal lizard.

Status in the Wild
Populations appear stable; protected by the Australian government.

Caterpillars, scorpions, ants, termites, beetles, spiders and other invertebrates, small lizards and snakes; nestling birds and small mammals are taken on rare occasions.

Frilled dragons seem to occupy a unique feeding niche within a lizard-rich habitat.  Although largely arboreal, they feed on the ground by dropping from their tree-trunk perches to intercept passing insects and small animals.

Research has shown that, immediately after dry season fires, the percentage of large invertebrates in the frilled dragons’ diets increases significantly.  It seems that the lizards are able to see larger prey animals more easily once the ground cover has been burned off.  So strong is this effect that lizards living in unburned areas move into the burned areas as soon as the fires have subsided.

Males are highly territorial and fight for breeding rights.  Both sexes use neck frill displays during courtship and territorial disputes.  Mating coincides with the start of the rainy season.  Females bury 8-14 eggs in the ground, and may produce 2 clutches each year if food is plentiful.  The eggs hatch in approximately 69 days and the young average 2 inches in length.  Hatchlings stay in close proximity to each other, possibly as a defense mechanism, for approximately 10 days.

Frilled Dragon Relatives
Frilled dragons are classified within the family Agamidae, which contains over 300 species.  Some of its members are among the most common and typical lizards of their habitats, while others have extremely specialized diets, unique adaptations and very restricted ranges.  Most hunt beetles, spiders, scorpions and a wide variety of other invertebrates, but the dabb lizards, Uromastyx spp., of  North Africa and the Middle East are herbivorous (in captivity they are especially fond of dried split peas!) while Australia’s thorny devil, Moloch horridus, subsists entirely upon ants.

The toad-headed lizards, Phrynocephalus spp. and the pygmy lizards, Cophotis spp. are unique among the Agamids in bearing live young.  Toad-headed lizards inhabit the deserts of south and central Asia, and utilize microscopic channels among their scales to funnel dew to the mouth.  Southeast Asia’s slow-moving pygmy lizards, likened by some to chameleons, have prehensile tails and dwell in high-altitude moss forests.

Perhaps the most commonly-seen of Africa’s lizards are various species of the genus Agama (commonly known as “agamas”), males of which perch on fences and houses and bob their brightly-colored (often blue) heads in courtship displays.  As with most Agamids, their head and body coloration intensifies during the breeding season.   Equally conspicuous throughout much of India and Southeast Asia are the various Calotes species, often locally referred to as “garden lizards” due to their propensity to take up residence near people.  Australia’s bearded dragon, Pagona vitticeps, is a popular pet, with millions bred yearly by hobbyists to supply the trade.

Among the more unusual Agamids are the 40 or so species of Draco, the “flying lizards”.  These supremely adapted aerialists are the only lizards to have developed elongated ribs to assist in gliding (flying geckos, Ptychozoon spp., also glide, but utilize small skin flaps along their sides).  The flying lizard’s ribs are covered by loose-fitting, brightly colored skin (the patagium) that, when extended, allows for “flights” of at least 50 feet and for considerable in-air maneuverability.  Other unique family members include the cold-tolerant Himalayan agama, A. himalayana, which ranges to 11,000 feet above sea level, and the horned agamas, Ceratophora spp., males of which sport a long, flexible appendage on the tip of their snouts.

We still have a lot to learn about the spectacular frilled dragons – please observe yours closely, and pass along your ideas and questions.  I’ll be sure to include them in future articles.

Excellent summaries of two frilled dragon field studies are posted at:


  1. avatar

    Interesting — but you fail to explain HOW much space the animal needs in captivity, etc. This is a good article for someone with a passing interest, but not for a serious pet keeper.

  2. avatar

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for your interest and comment.

    My greatest challenge when writing about animals is knowing where to stop – there is just too much of interest. For that reason, I’ve found it necessary to go to a two-part article format when addressing reptiles in captivity, with Part I being devoted to natural history and Part II dealing with captive care.

    Concerning your comment, what may have happened is that you read Part I of the article but missed Part II, which gives specific recommendations concerning cage size.

    Any suggestions that might allow our readers a more convenient method of accessing information in the articles would be most appreciated.

    Best regards, Frank

  3. avatar

    i have a frilled neck dragon and it seems to be sick

    it has a nice dark color but its facial area seems to be moveing inward
    she hasn’t eaten her mice this week and she is very skinny

    do you have any advice

  4. avatar

    Hello Ross,

    Thanks for your note.

    Assuming temperatures and other conditions are as they should be, a lizard that stops eating without obvious signs of disease may be suffering from an internal blockage or impaction. Judging by what you said about the face, she may not be drinking either, and is becoming dehydrated.

    If the animal is a female, retained eggs might be the problem. Also, you mention mice…these are not a very good food item for frilled dragons, despite the fact that the lizards eat them with gusto. Their natural diet is composed almost entirely of insects….they will take an occassional lizard or small mammal, but their digestive systems cannot handle a steady diet of vertebrates. The likleihood of a blockage is increased if they are fed adult mice, as the fur is not digested and often impacts within the intestines.

    Only an x-ray will reveal what is ailing your pet at this point. I suggest that you arrange for this as soon as possible. I may be able to provide you with a list of veterinarians in your area, please write in if you’d like me to look into that.

    Until then, keep the lizard warm and spray her lightly with warm water (once daily). You might also try placing her in her water dish, to see if she will drink, but do not leave her there and be sure she can dry off afterwards.

    Please let me know how it turns out. Good luck, Frank

  5. avatar

    Sorry i need to know the courtship behaviours of a frilled neck lizard. For my school assignment.

    get back to me as soon as possible

  6. avatar


    Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog and question.

    We do not know a great deal about frilled dragon courtship in the wild, but it seems that both sexes use their neck frills in communicating and courting. Males often sway from side to side while displaying the frill to females and to other males. It is not known if the size of the male’s frill influences the female in mate selection.

    Both sexes are highly territorial. Males also use the frill to intimidate other males; it is assumed that females may do so as well.

    Courtship begins at the onset of the rainy season (October/November) when the lizards descend from the canopy, where the dry season is spent. Females lay eggs from the middle to end (February/March) of the rainy season, and when food is plentiful may produce 2 clutches of eggs.

    The eggs are laid in the sand in an open, sunny location, in a nest of 4-8 inches in depth. Clutch size ranges from 8-14, and incubation averages 69 days at 85 F, but may vary in length from 55-95 days.

    Hatchlings average 2 inches in snout-vent length, and remain together for 10-14 days. Sexual maturity is reached at an average size of 7 inches snout-vent length.

    I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to write in with further questions.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  7. avatar


    It helps a lot

  8. avatar

    i am thinking of getting a frilled neck lizard because my bearded dragon just passed away.

    Do i have to keep change the tank much or is there several things i need to get.

  9. avatar


    Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your question and interest in our blog.

    Frilled dragons need a good deal more space than do bearded dragons, and their enclosure must be vertically oriented, as they spend most of their time perched above ground. They do not do well at all in cramped quarters, or if unable to climb. Once the lizard is past 6 months to a year in age, it will need a 75-100 gallon aquarium, and adults are best kept in a custom built cage of at least 3’x3’x4’.

    Were you able to determine the cause of your bearded dragon’s death? If not, please write in with any details you might have and I’ll try to offer some insights.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  10. avatar

    she died of old age she was 15 and she wasnt moveing as much as she was 1 year ago. But ithink isnt what causeed her death

    Thanks granter

  11. avatar


    Difficult to determine the cause of death sometimes, but 15 is a very good longevity for a bearded dragon – I don’t recall seeing any records of a longer lifespan for that species.

    Please let me know if you need anything further concerning frilled dragons as pets.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  12. avatar

    How much food should i feed a frilled dragon on the age of 1 i got her 2 days ago and named her molly she’s very cute and a good pet

  13. avatar


    Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your question.

    You can feed a 1 year old frilled dragon every other day, with occasional additional fast days (i.e. skip 2-3 days). As a general guideline, a single feeding could consist of 8 roaches or crickets or 6 super mealworms or 10 wax worms or butterworms or similar quantities of other insects. Offer salad every other day as well, perhaps cutting back on insects to encourage the lizard to accept the salad…please see Part II of the article (http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/tag/frilled-dragon-care/) for suggested vegetables. A few super mealworms mixed into the salad might temp the lizard to take a bite.

    You can also divide the above into daily meals if you prefer, again including fast days on occasion. You may need to adjust the amounts in accordance with temperatures, activity level and individual factors, but frilled dragons are usually pretty good about slowing down on food when they are full, and rarely become obese. Watch the lizard’s hipbones – a protrusion where the leg meets the body is an indication that the animal is too thin. The photo illustrating Part II of the article you referenced shows a frilled dragon in good weight.

    Add powdered vitamins at every other feeding, and please see my article concerning the importance of dietary variety.

    Good luck with your new pet! Please keep me posted.

    Best Regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  14. avatar

    My bearded dragon is approximately 8 years old. Lately, its had a decreased appetite. I have to help it eat crickets…they are just to fast for it to catch otherwise. Tonight, I’m really worried. Our bearded dragon seems to be in pain. Maybe having seizures? Its neck area has turned black. I don’t know what to do! I hate to see this wonderful creature in pain.

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Your lizard’s sluggish behavior and decreasing appetite could be caused by any number of conditions, some serious, some not. Bearded dragons often go into a brumation/hibernation period in the winter, even if temperatures are kept high. It seems linked to an internal clock or circadian rhythm and can occur even in animals that have been in captivity for years and have never exhibited the behavior in previous years.

      However, a calcium deficiency can also cause the symptoms you describe, as can an internal blockage or any number of other ailments. I suggest an examination by a veterinarian with reptile experience…radiographs and blood tests will likely be required to narrow down the problem. I have lists of reptile veterinarians in certain areas…please feel free to write back, perhaps I can provide some references.

      In any case, it would be best not to feed the animal until you determine the nature of the problem.

      Please also let me know some background information about your pet…temperatures, diet, supplements used and so forth…perhaps I can offer some advice.

      Good luck and happy holidays,
      Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    I was woundering if there are any changes to the habitat or environment of the frilled neck lizard which has been caused by humans which the animal has had to adapt to? This is a school assignment so could you please get back to me soon!! Thanks heaps

    • avatar

      Hello Amanda, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      There have been some human-caused habitat changes which may have caused adaptations on this lizard’s part.

      Field research in Australia has shown that frilled dragons move high up into Eucalyptus trees or into unused termite mounds during fires, which are common in their habitat during the dry season. Most survive the fires. As the fire passes through, the lizards return and feast on the large insects which also survived but are now easy to catch due to the lack of plants, dead logs and other cover. Their diet greatly improves during this time, and remains so for a time after the dry season, until the plants grow back. Frilled dragons from unburned areas even migrate into burned areas to feed…this cycle is very important to the lizards, and they have adapted their behavior to it over millions of years.

      In northern Australia, some fires are deliberately set, in order to clear brush and prevent worse fires (you may have read about the recent tragedies related to fires in Australia) while other naturally occurring fires are controlled. This practice, especially if it is extended into other areas of frilled dragon habitat, could greatly affect their food intake.

      However, in some purposely burned area, frilled dragons do very well – they have clearly adapted to the artificial fire cycle – leaving and returning at just the right times.

      Cutting large trees and removing termite mounds would also cause either an adaptation or loss of local populations, as they would need another means of escaping fires.

      Another potential problem is the introduction, by humans, of the marine or cane toad, Bufo marinus. Lizards that eat small toads (they do not instinctively avoid the toads, as do predators in the toads’ natural range) would be likely die from the toxins, or, like some species, begin to establish a resistance. Large toads would readily prey upon small frilled dragons. Also, marine toads are very effective predators and would likely out-compete the lizards for food. In response, the lizards might need to evolve a different feeding behavior – remaining on the ground more rather than perching on tree trunks and dropping onto ground-dwelling insects).

      I hope this is of some help, please let e know if you need anything further.

      Good luck and best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  16. avatar

    Hay frank,

    I got the frilled lizard mine was aggresive for the first 6 weeks, Then it got use to its sourondings (sorry i can’t spell). They are good pets but when i think of my bearded dragon it hurts my feeling’s to say she passed away when i had her since she was 2 months old. Do you have any good tips for me at the moment about my dragon..

    Thanks granter
    Sorry i havent replied earlier it’s just i couldnt find this website again i replied last year in november!! THX!

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Part 11 of this article covers the basics of frilled dragon care, please check it out. I’m not exactly sure of what type of other information you’d like – please write back with any specific questions you might have and I’ll be happy to offer some advice.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  17. avatar

    Good day Tracie,

    We are writing to you from Switzerland with a last hope that you can may be help with a piece of advice our Frilled Lizard.
    Last Monday at 6 o’clock in the morning we found our frilly on the ground of the vivarium lying on her back with closed eyes, which was shocking. Straight we have checked if she is alive and Thanks God she was, but her her back legs and tail were paralyzed.
    At 8 o’clock same day we were already at Vet’s place checking up, making x-ray, trying to find out what happened. Eventually vet had a suspect for deficiency of Vitamin D3…and made her an injection. When we got home we started searching all over the internet and books what might caused this sickness. What happened is that the guy from the animal shop who sold this lizard 9 months ago did not fixed the cage write, he put the UVB lamp behind the plastic glass, which means that all the LIFE NECESSARY uv rays never passed through…We straight away modified the cage to get a proper light.and Apart from this Temperature is 32C on the hot side and 25 on the shade side, humidity is from 60% to 70%, we were feeding her crickets with Ca and Vitamins supplements 2 times per week, and by the way it is a male of 1,5 years old, weight 36 grams!!!he never ate a lot.And since he got sick does not eat AT ALL!!
    The day before yesterday We also mixed 4 big crickets with water and calcium and gave to him through disposable syringe to the mouth.Yesterday he finally managed to poop whatever he ate a week and half ago,and the consistency was kind of liquid.Today the same kind of liquid came out twice.
    over this last week since he had an injection his legs started moving, not like it used to be but still better then nothing.Tail is moving sometimes as well.Also he is opening his frilled from time to time and stay with his mouth open for couple of seconds and repeats this action for about 10 minute…We are VERY VERY worry and do not know if we are doing everything right.We love our lizard so much!
    Today he looked very pity and very sick and we went to the vet to see if it is going better and Doctor said that his condition is quite critical and also that Frilly still has a chance to survive.At the end of the visit he made another injection of vitamins E and A. Personally as far as we live in Switzerland local vets are more common with cats and dogs, but not that much into lizards, especially Frilled lizard.We are already quite lucky that this guy has an experience and knowledge about reptiles.
    We are praying every day and night.

    Hopefully you will find a time to read this e-mail and looking forward to hear from you asap.

    Kind Regards,

    Eugenie& Manu Schoepfer

    • avatar

      Hello Eugenie and Manu, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. A Vitamin D deficiency very likely did lead to the current situation. However, the veterinarians I have worked with in zoological parks most often administer an injection of Calcium Gluconate once the animal has become rigid and/or unable to move about (without Vitamin D3, the lizard cannot utilize calcium…but it is the calcium itself that allows for muscle contraction, etc.).

      If such is necessary, your veterinarian may be able to consult with a colleague specializing in reptile medicine through the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians. I can also provide links to specific veterinarians in the USA if need be.

      As for general husbandry, I suggest you raise the basking site temperature to 33-33.5 C and use a metal reflector with your UVB lamp. The optimal distance from the lamp will vary with each type, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations (most fluorescent lamps deliver maximum radiation over a distance of 15-20 cm, mercury vapor lamps usually need to be kept further away).

      Crickets alone are not a satisfactory diet for frilled lizards…please try to vary the food as much as possible (locusts, roaches, large mealworms, wax worms). A pink mouse once every month or so, especially if the animal is calcium depleted, is fine, but wait until he has fully recovered and is digesting normally before offering this. If you’d like to forward information as to what types of food animals are available, I’d be happy to structure a diet.

      The crickets should be fed a nutritious diet for 2 days or so before being offered to your lizard. Please see my article on cricket nutrition for additional information. If the products mentioned in the article are not available to you, you can feed the crickets with a high quality tropical fish food flake (i.e. Tetra Min) and a variety of fruits and vegetables (oranges, apple, kale, carrots, yams, etc.) Mix a bit of calcium powder in with the fish flakes as well.

      I hope this has been of some use, please be back in touch if you need further information.

      Good luck and best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  18. avatar

    Hello im doing research on Frillys for school i want to now if thay are able to be raised together or not please respond soon

    • avatar

      Hello Joshua, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Males do not get along together; females may if given a great deal of room. Please see “Social Grouping” in Part II of this article for further details.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  19. avatar

    hi i am getting ready to purchase a frilled dragon and i just would like to know how tame they are and how they respond to handeling i have read mixed reviews some say they do well with handeling and others say you cant get close to them. i guess it depends on what type of personality they have

    nice article! very helpful

    • avatar

      Hello Scott, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      Frilled dragons do, as you suspect, differ greatly in individual personalities, but on the whole they do not take well to handling. Best to think of them more in terms of an animal to observe – they retain much of their natural behavior if given a large enclosure, so you’ll be able to see much of interest and perhaps add to our understanding of them by watching and taking notes.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  20. avatar

    Good evening. Very well presented article.

    My young male Frillys fril has turned black on the right side at the top. The skin went discoloured and funny. Took him to vet who gave him antibiotics and some cream to use.

    This has not cleared it up at all. He is only about 6″ Nose to vent. He eats like a horse and it is not hurting him at all but it does not seem to beclearing up.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Kind regards Rich

    (he is housed alone so nothing could have attacked him)

    • avatar

      Hello Rich, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and the kind words, much appreciated.

      What you may be seeing is skin damage/scarring from the past bacterial or fungal infection. I’ve not observed this on Frilled Dragons, but have on other lizards and snakes as well. As long as the discolored area does not spread and his appetite remains good, all should be fine.

      Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

  21. avatar

    Thank you for your swift response.

    It started as hardened skin at the top of his frill where it attaches to the back of his head above his right eye. It started to turn a slight green colour. I bathed him abd the vet gave him 2x shots of antibiotics. He is perfectly active and showing no signs of any pain. He lets you aply the cream and is perfectly normal. I will keep an eye on him and hopefully will clear up.

    Thank you

    • avatar

      Hello Rich, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the feedback. The discolored area may remain, even after shedding; I’m not sure of the process involved, but have seen long term scarring that seems to stem from skin infections. I’m interested to know how it turns out….

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  22. avatar

    I have had my adult frilly for about 2 years now… not sure of the sex, but i think its a female 18 inches long snout to vent length is 7 inches… frill comes down to the elbows, actually pretty large>> small femoral pores and no obvious hemi penal bulge. I noticed an enlrged knob on one of his/her back toes (the long one) and found his back feet a little swollen looking… he’s never been hugely active, but he eats very well(crickets, hornworm, superworms, fuzzies, butterworms and roaches) doesnt eat greens and ive never tried dog food>>> temps vary from 78 to 95 on the hot side, humidity is kept around 60-75… Ivenot yet come across a vet that im comfortable to me>>> im thinking he may have a slight calcium deficiency. i admisitered some calcium powder (with vit d3) after mixing it with a little water using a syringe>> he drank about 5ml. Do you recommend I continue this type of treatment? and if so how often should i administer? I actually stopped supplementing his food so I take full responsibilty… he does have a uvb bulb and ive changed it twice already… as we speak hes running all over the place so he is not in critically bad shape. I love the blog and only wish I had found it sooner… Great Job!!! thank you in advance for yourt time and consideration…

    • avatar

      Hello Steve, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest and the generous compliments.

      A Calcium deficiency is possible based on your remarks; toes may become swollen with fibrous tissue which is laid down to replace the calcium that the lizard has absorbed. However, I would not treat as you describe – unfortunately, without a blood test there really is no way to know what the animal’s Calcium levels are, and supplementation would need be given with that in mind. Usually, Calcium Gluconate injections are the treatment of choice, but again this depends upon a number of factors. Also, there’s always the chance that an entirely unrelated problem exists.

      You might wish to check the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians for a reference. Dr. Kevin Wright, an outstanding and well-known expert, provides long-distance consultations as well – if anyone can advise you on a treatment plan without a visit, it would be he.

      Great that you are providing a varied diet. However, I would avoid fuzzies despite their high Calcium level. An occasional pinky is ok, but please bear in mind that invertebrates comprise nearly 100% of this species’ natural diet; they do not usually fare well if given rodents long term (impactions, liver problems).

      Sorry I could not provide a more specific answer, but my best advice is to seek veterinary assistance.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  23. avatar
    Name (required)lidia

    what is the interesting fact of frilled lizard i want to know for my school assaiment

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Please check Part II of this article also – there are many interesting facts there as well. Please write back if you need more details on any particular point.

      Good luck with your assignment,

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  24. avatar

    Dear Frank,

    Some sources report that there are two different species of frilled lizard but I have not been able to find any specifics on this. If there are more than one, I would like to know the differences for a report I am writing. Do you have any information or resources on this?

    Also, some sources say these are protected by the Australian government and others say they are not. If they are, how is the government protecting them? Do you have any information or resources about their protection?

    Thank you,


    • avatar

      Hello Steve, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Only 1 species is currently recognized – the most reliable source of taxonomic info on the net is the Reptile Database.
      Frilled dragons are legally protected in Australia, many of those originally taken into the trade came out of New Guinea, but some poaching has been reported in Australia in the past.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  25. avatar

    Hi Frank
    I’m doing a school project on the frilled Dragon
    and I’ve looked on so many websites to find the anwser to what are the frilled dragons predators. I need to present my project to my class by the 16 May 2010
    so if you could respond as soon as you could thanks

    Best Regards, Amber.A

    • avatar

      Hello Amber, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Snakes, hawks and monitor lizards are the main natural predators of the frilled dragon. Introduced animals, such as dingos, dogs, foxes, cats, ferrets and stoats also prey upon them.

      Good luck.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  26. avatar

    do they bury the eggs

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Frilled Dragons normally bury their eggs…if you have a gravid female, provide her with a plastic tub of moist soil and sand, of 8-10 inches in depth if possible. A light placed over the area may help attract her. Please write back if you need further details,

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  27. avatar
    Michelle stephens

    Hi I was wondering if you could help me . I have a slight problem with my beautiful frilly dragon. It is approx 5 -6 months old and length is 14.5 inches. He has been shedding his skin over quite some time now little bits here and there. But my main concern is that he is very dry and scaly. I have bathed in in water frequently. Also oput oil on his skin to help but then this just makes it look a crusty effect. He doesnt seem to be a large weighted frilly but does at times eat anywhere from 2-5 locusts but will not eat any vegetation at all, his foodds are always dusted with calcium and vitamins. Dont know what else to do. thankyou Michelle

    • avatar

      Hello Michelle, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. Frilled Lizards are native to very arid habitats and do tens to shed slowly, over time. Try leaving a water bowl large enough for him to soak in available at all times – I’ve found that they monitor their needs well, and this is less stressful than “enforced bathing”. Shedding aids can be useful for particularly difficult spots.

      They do often refuse vegetables – try mixing some locusts or live super mealworms to the salad; be sure to vary his diet with other species of insects as well.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  28. avatar

    i was wondering if you knew anything about certain symptoms i am noticing in my indosesian frilled. he’s about 4yrs old and lately hes been very lethargic and not eating..shedding all the time..but tonight he was very cold to the touch and i was able to pick him up..he walks like he is drunk..falling off logs..etc..but responded to water..cant seem to keep his eyes open and he had little water bubbles coming out of his nose but i thought that might be because he drank so much water when i got home..oh yeah i saw him shivering periodically…don’t know what to do…thanks

    • avatar

      Hello Cindy, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry to hear about your lizards.

      Falling, loss of muscle control and shivering are often signs of a calcium deficiency (Calcium assists in muscle contractions; the shivering is known as tetany). Bubbles usually indicate a respiratory infection, but can be related to a number of other conditions as well. Rapid shedding may occur due to almost any illness, and is common if external parasites are present also. Cold would just indicate that the animal is not basking, as there’s no internal heat control mechanism that we know of.

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to accurately diagnose the problem via symptoms; a Vet exam is necessary, and I would say time is of the essence at this point. Please let me know if you need a reference to an experienced veterinarian in your area.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  29. avatar
    Michelle stephens

    Hi frank, I have a frilled dragon whom I have had to the vets . He has 3 antibiotic injections as it was stated that my little johnny((frilled dragon)) has septisemia. he had these injestions over a week and a half. He is not eating and I am having to feed him myself, his skin condition is not differnt it is still very dry . I have a bath in his vivarium with vitamin drops in also in his water feeding dish. His foods are always dusted with calcium on a regular basis. I was wondering if there is anything else I cn do to help him with his condition as the vet has stated after his injections there is nothing else that can be done with him . He will either recover or die. He does not seem to have much energy at all. Just either lie’s in his bath or lies on his rock under his uv and heat lamps. thankyou for any advice you can give me , best wishes Michelle

    • avatar

      Hello Michelle, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and sorry for the bad news.

      Antibiotics are the best treatment for your lizard’s condition – unfortunately only time will tell if they will work. You are doing all you can – just check that the lizard does not get too hot (he may not move away from the heat lamp if he is very weak). You can spray his skin lightly with water once-twice daily as well. I hope he recovers – if so, please write back and we can discuss diet and other care.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  30. avatar
    Michelle stephens

    Hi Frank. Thought I would drop you an email to let you know my Frilled Dragon passed away yesturday with septisemia. He got very week within himself but the antibiotic injections from the vets just could help his little body through it . thankyou for all you help. best wishes Michelle

    • avatar

      Hello Michelle, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the feedback and sorry for the bad news. You certainly did all that could have been done; even in zoos we still have much to learn about reptile diets and medical care; it wasn’t so long ago that it was difficult to even find a photo of a frilled dragon, much less keep them as pets.

      Please let me know if you need any advice in the future.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio

  31. avatar
    my frill is watering at the mouth help!

    My frill seems very healthy. I take him out frequently, but tonight after about 5 crickets I let him out for a few minutes and noticed that he was watering either from his nose or his mouth quite a bit. Just wanted info on what you think it is!


    • avatar

      Hello Brittany, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Lizards sometimes discharge fluid to clear the nasal passages or to excrete excess salts; however, heavy or frequent watering from the nose or mouth is usually a sign of an infection in the lungs or elsewhere. If he does it again, I suggest a visit to your vet, as these infections spread quickly and can be fatal. Please let me know if you need help in locating a reptile vet in your area.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  32. avatar

    OMG thank you #35 for asking that question. I’ve been looking for that for almost 5hrs switching to different websites.

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your kind words – I look forward to your future questions and comments.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  33. avatar

    One of my frilled necks has brown saliva. What is the cause of this? My other frilled neck does not have brown saliva.

    • avatar


      Sorry I could not offer more info,. Frank

  34. avatar

    I have a female frill neck, she has stopped eating for about a month but has a very big an hard tummy. I think she is egg bound what can do to help her?

    • avatar

      Hello Emma,

      If she is egg-bound or has an intestinal obstruction a vet visit would be the only way to diagnose and treat the problem. Fatal infections invariably take hold when either condition is present, so you should attend to this as soon as is possible. I hope all goes well, pl keep me posted, Frank

  35. avatar

    We have had our frilled dragon for about a month now and shortly after we got him he went into a sulk and stopped eating. Well we are pretty sure he is a he and about 10 months old. He is now active and can be handled but frills at sudden movements but still refuses crickets and superworms. Two days ago we tempted him with 2 hornworms which must have been too delicious to pass up because he ate them and today I noticed that he had pooped for the first time in probably a week. His poop was peach in colour and almost granular. If he was housed on sand I would assume that he had been ingesting it but he is housed on Eco earth a coconut husk product. Any thoughts? The temps and humidity are as recommended has UVB and a water bowl. We mist several times a day and give him extra water with a syringe that he will lick up.

  36. avatar

    Me and my husband are planing on getting a frilled dragon. Is there anything eles they can eat that’s not cockroacis? I don’t really want those in our house. Can we feed it new born mice and if so how much.?

    • avatar

      Frilled dragons can eat many different types of insects. While Dubia roaches are one of the most nutritious insects, crickets, mealworms, superworms, wax worms (in moderation), and hornworms can also be fed. A varied diet is always best. An adult frilled dragon could eat a pinky mouse, but that should be offered no more than once a month.


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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