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Frilled Lizard

Chlamydosaurus kingii (aka Frill-Necked Lizard, Frilled Dragon)


This member of the dragon family is distinguished by its long tail and the large frill of skin on its neck. Body color matches the color of the land and trees on which the individual lizard lives, but is generally some combination of black, brown, tan, and yellow. It is 24-40 inches long and weighs 1.1-2.2 pounds; males are slightly larger than females.

frilled lizard

Distribution and Habitat

The frilled lizard is native to the tropical and warm temperate forests and savanna woodlands of northern Australia, southern New Guinea, and surrounding islands. Although it is often seen on the ground, the frilled lizard spends most of its time in trees.

Habits and Behaviors

When this unique creature feels threatened, it rises on its hind legs, opens its yellow-colored mouth, unfurls the colorful, pleated skin flap that encircles its head, and hisses. If an attacker is unintimidated, however, the lizard simply turns tail, with mouth and frill open, and runs away, legs splaying left and right. It continues its deliberate run (at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour) without stopping or looking back until it reaches the safety of a tree.

The frilled lizard is solitary and territorial. It is most active during the day.


Frilled lizards mate at the beginning of the wet season, which usually occurs around September. An average of 12 soft-shelled eggs (up to 25) are laid in a burrow and buried. They hatch in 8-12 weeks. The young are able to fend for themselves almost immediately after birth.

How long frilled lizards live in the wild is unknown, but captive specimens can live up to 20 years.


Frilled lizards will eat almost anything they find, but are particularly fond of insects, rodents, spiders, and smaller reptiles.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Reptilia
order Squamata
suborder Sauria
family Agamidae
genus & species Chlamydosaurus kingii

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The Robinson Library >> Suborder Sauria

This page was last updated on August 12, 2018.