Frilled-neck Dragon, ‘Frillie’
Frilled-Neck Lizards are one of the most recognisable lizards in Australia. They are quite large growing to 90cm in length, with long, muscled back legs, and grey, brown or reddish colouring and patterning. This lizard gets its name from the majestic frill that hangs around their neck and can grow to the size of a dinner plate. This frill normally lies folded against their neck but when threatened will open it up and display a large orange, yellow and brown mane to deter predators. Both males and females have the frills, however the males have a larger head and overall size.
Frilled Neck Lizards are insectivores feeding on fast moving insects such as crickets, cockroaches, ants, beetles and termites but will consume other bugs such as spiders.
Frilled Neck Lizards most commonly live in the tropical woodlands and bush, but can also reside in desert areas. They are mostly in the forest areas as they are an arboreal species of lizard, electing to be off the ground 90% of the time.
Frilled Neck Lizards are distributed along the top of Australia, starting from Brisbane in the south east, to the Kimberly in the west.
Frilled Neck Lizards use their frill for scaring off their predators, as it makes them seem much larger than they are. The frill is attached to the mouth of the lizard, and is opened to its full extent when the animal bears its teeth and hisses, which aids their threatening display. In the event that the lizard is unable to successfully deter the predator it will turn and run to safety. They run exceptionally fast on their two strong back legs and use their long tails for balance, getting up to speeds of 30 km/h.
Not only do they use their frills for defense but also to attract a female. Males will flash their frill in an attempt to impress the females and in turn get the chance to mate with them. Females are oviparous, so after mating will lay up to 23 eggs and bury them for incubation. If the eggs are incubated at the optimum temperature of 30 degrees celsius then a mixture of both males and females will be produced, but if the temperature is either above or below 30 degrees then only females will be produced.
To camouflage the lizard uses the colours of their body to blend into the tree bark or fence post they are sitting on, and they can change their skin colour from light to dark to absorb heat faster, therefore reducing the time that they are out in the open recharging. Their arboreal lifestyle is perfect for camouflage but also hunting, they are able to use their large eyes and high vantage point to find their fast moving prey