Frilled lizard, frillneck lizard, King’s lizard
The flashy frill and menacing hiss of the frilled lizard may look frightening, but it is all a big bluff.
Meaning of scientific name
Chlamydosaurus kingii = King’s cloaked lizard.
Total length: up to 95cm.
Adult frilled lizards have a large frill covering the neck, shoulders and chest. With the frill folded back, the lizard’s skin patterns give it excellent camouflage as tree bark.
They are found in northern Australia and in southern New Guinea.
They inhabit tropical and warm temperate open woodland and savannah woodland.
They eat insects and spiders, and very occasionally feed on mammals and small lizards. Termites and ants are the bulk of their diet.
They spend ninety per cent of their time up trees, only descending to the ground to feed. A lot of their movements within the trees are to regulate their body temperature: they will bask on the tree trunk in the early morning, and hide in the shade of the canopy most of the rest of the day. Most feeding is done in the early morning or late afternoon.
They have good eyesight, and use this to locate food. When prey is spotted, the frilled lizard will quickly climb down, run across and grab the food, then hurry back to the trees. The most successful time for frilled lizards to hunt is after a bushfire, probably because the fire has cleared away the undergrowth and enabled the lizards to see prey better.
If disturbed, the frilled lizard initially relies on its camouflage. If further threatened it will open its mouth wide and erect the frill, revealing bright orange and red scales. To make this bluff seem more threatening, it may also hiss and jump at its assailant. It will then turn and run on its hind legs for the nearest tree and climb out of reach. It also uses its frill to display to other frilled lizards while in the tree tops.
Frilled lizards commonly use bipedal locomotion.
Frilled lizards time their breeding to coincide with the wet season: November to April. They lay 8 to 14 eggs per clutch.
The frilled lizard is the reptile emblem of Australia.