Frilled lizard (Frillosaurus): Species Profile

The frilled lizard is native to Australia and New Guinea. They’re stunning bipedal reptiles with spectacular frills around their necks that might remind you of prehistoric Dilophosaurus (the original “Jurassic Park” movie made them popular). They are not commonly kept pet reptiles as they are rare, but they are fascinating creatures. Due to their calm nature and relatively simple feeding needs, these lizards are perfect for experienced and novice lizard owners. They’re not the longest-lived reptiles; what they may have lacked over the years, they made up for in personality.

Species Overview

Scientific name: golden dragon

Common name: Frilled Lizard; frilled lizard, frilled dragon

Adult size: 2 to 3 feet, males are generally larger than females

Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years in captivity

Behavior and Temperament of Frilled Lizards

Frilled lizards are docile, low-key critters. When threatened, they stand up on their hind legs, erect their necks, open their mouths, and spit, revealing tiny teeth. They run on their hind legs to escape predators in the wild. Captive frilled lizards may bite or bite your hand if provoked. Some pet frills may also wave their tails at you, but this is rare.

A frilled lizard with its frills fully open and on display looks impressive, but this is usually a sign that the animal is stressed and senses imminent danger. If your lizard does this regularly, it could be a sign of a more serious health problem.

They are not particularly fond of handling, but may tolerate it if lifted by hand from hatching.

You can have multiple frilled lizards together; however, two males will compete for territory. As for a male and female pair, they may reproduce. If they do, expect a lot of babies. Also, if you’re accommodating two from the start, you’ll need to double the enclosure size.

If you plan to breed your frilled lizards, November to February are ideal months for spawning. Usually up to 25 soft shell eggs in a clutch, sometimes you can get two clutches per season. Eggs must remain in soil at least 2 inches deep and at least 86 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three months until they hatch.

accommodating frilled lizards

Frilled lizards are arboreal lizards, which means these unique lizards cling to tree trunks most comfortably. They usually only venture out of the tree to eat, fight or run away. Provide your lizard with branches to climb and some leaves to hide in.

House this lizard in at least a large 55-gallon tank so it has some room to exercise. Shielded enclosures allow more opportunities for climbing, but don’t hold humidity like a glass tank.

Once the case is set up, you can automate the lights on the timer to make things easier. Other lizard care needs are simple: daily feeding and water changes, and monthly deep cleaning of the lizard’s entire enclosure. Between deep cleanings, you’ll need to spot clean or scoop up visible feces.


Frilled lizards are cold-blooded. They need to regulate their internal body temperature by walking around the cage to cool or warm. Provide a thermal gradient or temperature range in the cage.

These lizards require a gradient of 85 to 115 F during the day. Most enclosures should be around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with at least one hot zone reaching 115 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature should not drop below 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use incandescent lamps, UVB lamps, under-tank heating pads, and ceramic heat emitters to warm up the enclosure.


Reptiles synthesize vitamin D3 through UVB light, or fluorescent ultraviolet light, usually provided by the sun. In turn, vitamin D3 is essential for absorbing calcium from food. Provides a UVB (10.0) that emits 10% UVB, a high enough output for this species. A mercury vapor bulb is a triple-function lamp. It provides UVB, illuminates the shell and provides heat. Other bulbs, such as incandescent or nocturnal reptile bulbs (reptiles are not visible), both emit light and provide heat.


Frilled lizards need an environment with 55% to 65% humidity. To add moisture, you can spray or mist the cage several times a day. A hygrometer or hygrometer will help you check the moisture level. You may notice the lizard bathing in its water bowl. This is usually to cool down or to help loosen the skin it sheds.


The substrate is the litter or lining at the bottom of the pet cage. Babies can be placed on newspapers or paper towels. For adults, use a substrate that retains humidity and cushions falls to some extent. Good substrate choices include coconut fiber, cypress mulch, organic potting soil, and peat moss. You can also use a reptile rug, but it doesn’t hold humidity very well.

food and water

Frilled lizards are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods. They are diurnal animals, so feed them in the morning. You will mainly feed them crickets and super worms, which are easily available through pet suppliers. Gut load (feed them a nutritious meal before feeding them to your pet) and dust them with calcium and multivitamin supplements every other day.

An adult frilled dragon can eat 20 crickets or 20 super worms a day, or both. These lizards do not overeat and can regulate food intake. It’s better to let them eat as much as they want; they’ll stop when they’ve had enough.

Frilled lizards also eat caterpillars, silkworms, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans. As a snack, you can offer waxworms, mealworms, mice, and fruit in small quantities.

Providing abundant food during feedings not only looks fun, but is also mentally stimulating for your lizard. Try attaching an empty toilet paper roll to a branch and let your lizard catch some insects in the roll.

Keep a large water bowl in the lizard’s enclosure and fill it with fresh filtered water daily.

common health problems

Most frilled lizard diseases result from improper care. These lizards require daily exposure to UV light to avoid vitamin D deficiency and calcium malabsorption. Insufficient UVB can lead to metabolic bone disease, which is characterized by soft limbs and jaw, weakness, poor posture (lying on the ground), refusal to eat, and lethargy.

They also need proper heat and humidity to prevent respiratory infections. Signs of a respiratory infection include wheezing, mouth breathing, and mucus in the nasal passages and around the mouth.

If your lizard doesn’t accept food, even just once, it’s usually a sign of a digestive problem, such as a parasite. If you notice that your frilled lizard is hard to shed, it could be a sign of a skin infection, usually a fungal infection.

Ideally, find an outside veterinarian who specializes in lizards to watch for any changes in your pet’s behavior or appearance that you may have overlooked.

Choose frilled lizards

These lizards are somewhat rare among reptile owners, but some reputable breeders offer frilled lizards. To find a reputable breeder, ask other local reptile owners or exotic veterinarians near you, or attend a reptile fair, where there are many reptiles for sale by breeders.

Although they come in a variety of colors, only one species of frill-necked lizard has been recorded. The body of the lizard is darker than the frill, which is usually yellow or orange. You can expect to pay between $150 and $300.

Before buying, make sure your lizard appears to be in good health. It should have clear nostrils; the mouth should be pink (not red or tacky discharge); and the fecal opening (exhaust) should be clean. Take your new lizard to an exotic animal veterinarian for a thorough examination, including a stool examination, to make sure it doesn’t have any internal parasites or other diseases.

species similar to frilled lizards

If you are interested in frilled lizards, you may want to research related species:

Otherwise, check out other types of reptiles and amphibians that could be your new pets.


Frilled lizard (Frillosaurus): Species Profile
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