Frilled Dragon Care

Frill-necked Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingie), also called Frilled Dragon and Frilled Lizard

Popularity: Make good house pets

Origin: Australia and New Guinea

Native habitat: savanna woodland areas, but sometimes also in tropical and temperate forests

Size: Up to 30″, Frill is about 12″ when extended

Lifespan: up to 15 years

Appearance: They get their name from the skin frill around their necks, which usually lies folded back against its head and neck. Long spines of cartilage connected to the jawbones support it. They can be found in varying colors, and the colors seem to change depending on the environment. Darker, more dry environments tend to produce more browns, oranges and reds. Damper, tropical environments produce darker browns and grays.

Diet: arthropods, ants, termites, cicadas, beetles, small vertebrates, butterflies, moths, larvae, spiders, other lizards, small mammals

Activities: Frilled Dragons are semi-arboreal, so they like to spend a lot of time hanging out in trees in search of food and for camouflage.

Defense Mechanisms: The skin frill around their neck flares out displaying bright orange and red scales when frightened or agitated. It also gapes its mouth to show a bright pink or yellow lining. If that does not scare off the offender, they run away first on all four limbs and then accelerate to run on only their hind legs (Australians have nicknamed them the ‘bicycle lizard’ because of this). They will then run to a tree, climb it, and use camouflage to hide.

Misc characteristics: They get their prey by ambushing them by lying still until the prey comes along.


Housing and Furnishings

They need a tall enclosure so they can have large branches to climb and bask on. It should be at least 4-feet tall. Solid enclosures are best for maintaining humidity, however, if humidity can be controlled, screen or mesh works well. A lot of plants are necessary to make the lizard feel comfortable, and they need at least a couple of dedicated basking areas high up in the enclosure. You can house more than one together, but it is not recommended; particularly with two males, which will become territorial and fight. Putting multiple lizards together requires a larger enclosure.


Particulate substrates are acceptable as long as they are lizard safe, such as organic potting soil with no chemicals or fertilizers, bed-a-beast type substrates, coco-fiber/eco-earth, and some owners even use play sand. Other substrates that work well includes non-adhesive shelf liner, reptile carpet, layered paper towels and layered newspaper. Avoid calcium sands and crushed walnut, which are deadly to Frill-necks.

Temperature and Lighting

Halogen floodlights are the best for providing heat. Temperatures should range from 95 degrees F to 110 degrees F. One side of the housing should be cooler than the other — around 70-80 degrees.  UVB light is important for the lizard. Avoid compact fluorescent or coiled UVB bulbs because they are harmful to the Dragon’s eyes and they provide too much UVB. Use a long fluorescent tube or a Mercury Vapor Bulb (MVB). Keep the Dragon 6 to 8 inches from the light if it is the fluorescent tube, and 12 to 14 inches from an MVB.

Water and Humidity

You can provide water for the Dragon in a number of ways, including soaking, misting, and running water. If you are soaking, the water should be the same temperature as the lizard. If it is hotter or colder, it can cause the lizard to go into shock. Soaking is ideal for helping the reptile shed. Misting the enclosure raises the humidity in it and hydrates the lizard. Water dishes with fresh, clean water can be used, also.


You can feed your Dragon inside of the enclosure, but you must monitor the feeding to prevent consumption of substrate particulates. Put the food in a large bowl to help prevent that. Remove uneaten foods, especially if they are still alive: They might bite the lizard. Make sure hard-bodied bugs aren’t larger than the distance between the lizards eyes. That is not as important with soft-bodied bugs, which include silkworms, hornworms, phoenix worms, butterworms, and waxworms. Other staples include roaches and crickets. Give the reptile occasional treats such as pinky/fuzzy mice, fish, and various fruits except for citrus. Some Frill-necks also eat dandelion, collard, turnip and mustard greens, as well as squash. Feed adults every other day, and supplement meals with calcium and multivitamin powder.

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