Frilled Dragon

Chlamydosaurus kingii

Order: Squamata Suborder: Iguania Family: Agamidae

Husbandry Information

  • Housing Requirements

    • Notes: Avoid perpetually damp conditions.
    • Substrate- combo of coco fiber, play sand, organic potting soil to 2” depth. Or cypress mulch or commercial forest bedding.
    • Lighting: use a simple timer for all of the lights in the cage, and set them to be on for approximately 12 hours per day. Diurnal lizards, like frilled dragons, require full-spectrum lighting, including the UVB portion of the spectrum, to metabolize their calcium properly. Additionally, exposure to UVA will encourage natural behaviors and help to prevent depression and anorexia. A variety of full-spectrum bulbs exist in the marketplace; look for models with 5 percent UVB levels.
    • Enclosure setup: Frilled dragons spend much of their time in the wild alternately clinging to vertical tree trunks and chasing insects on the ground. Strive to re-create this habitat by incorporating large, flat, wooden surfaces for the frilled dragons to cling to. Place several climbing structures under the heat lamp, creating several basking spots of slightly different temperatures, and place a few at the cool end of the enclosure. Corkbark, natural tree bark or branches can provide these perches.
    • Adult enclosures can range from 4 to 6 feet tall, at least 2½ feet deep, and 5 feet long, especially if you’re raising a breeding pair or trio of frilled lizards. Dimensions can be somewhat smaller for a single adult, but remember, height is very important. The height at which a frilled lizard can bask equates to additional feelings of security.

    Diet Requirements

    • Diet consists of: insects: crickets, roaches, hornworms, silkworms, soldier fly larvae, superworms, canned grasshoppers.
    • All insects should be dusted with a quality calcium daily and vitamin D3 supplement in moderation (1-2 x week).
    • An occasional pinky or fuzzy mouse, or carnivore diet meatball, depending on the size of the lizard, can also be offered.
    • Juvenile frilled lizards should be fed appropriately sized insects, no larger than two-thirds of their head width (no larger than the space between the lizard’s eyes; you’ll prevent impaction and other health problems), up to three times a day. They should also be misted with fresh water at each feeding.
    • Frilled lizards drink water droplets. A shallow pan placed in the bottom of the enclosure may or may not receive much attention (though placing a heat source under it will help raise humidity levels). Usually, after a few minutes of misting/rain, a thirsty lizard will drink.

    Veterinary Concerns

    • Over-dusting with vitamin supplement may cause renal issues.

    Notes on Enrichment & Training

    • Brandywine Zoo: This species is highly food motivated and can be trained for presenting in hand or on a table. We use a whistle as a bridge and feed crickets off a pair of tongs. Be careful in early training- they are very enthusiastic and will jump/leap off hand onto you, the table, the wall, the floor, etc! Work in an enclosed space.
    • Work with this species from a young age on desensitizing to handling and new experiences.
    • Check out the Reptelligence Facebook page and Reptelligence website for enrichment and training inspiration.


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification –Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies).

Males are typically larger than females.

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines


  • Brandywine Zoo: as a juvenile, a medium-sized, “underbed storagage” tub with locking lid that has been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). Once full size, a large, clear storage tote is used for packing, soaking, and transport. The tub is lined with newspaper and, during cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle (wrapped in newspaper). Additionally, this carrier is packed inside a custom-made fleece travel cozie during cold temps.

hot water bottle

Tips on Presentation

  • This highly food motivated species can be fed during programs for demonstration.

Touching Techniques

  • At Brandywine Zoo: Guests are directed to use a two-finger touch only on the back, not near the head or face, and going in the direction of the scales.

Tips on Handling

  • This species is highly food motivated and easily trained for hand presentation.

Potential Messaging

  • This animal communicates with body language and will frill out its neck with an open mouth when threatened. This defense mechanism gives a startle effect, allowing the dragon time to run away.
  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet.
    • Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots.
    • Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems.
    • Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters.

Acquisition Information

Acquiring juveniles will allow for ample time to train and desensitize to handling.

Comments from the Rating System

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Warm temperate forests and savanna woodlands of Northern Australia

Physical Description

  • Size: Male frilled lizards can attain lengths between 2 and 3 feet, while females attain two-thirds of that size.
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs

Life Cycle


  • Wild: Unknown
  • Managed Care: 10 – 20 years
  • Females lay 8 to 23 tiny eggs in an underground nest.
  • Hatchlings emerge fully independent and capable of hunting and utilizing their frill.


  • When feeling threatened, it will rise on its hind legs, opens its mouth, unfurl its hood and hiss. If an attacker is unintimidated, the lizard simply turns tail, mouth and frill open, and bolts. It will continue to run until it reaches the safety of a tree.
  • They may use their collar as a way to thermoregulate.

Threats and Conservation Status

Did you know…

  • The generic name (Chlamydosaurus) is derived from the Ancient Greek Chlamydo (χλαμύς) meaning “cloaked” or “mantled” and saurus (sauros) meaning “lizard”. Its specific name is a Latinized form of Phillip Parker King’s last name. It is the only member of this genus.
  • Other names: Frilled-necked Lizard, Frilled Lizard, Frilled Agama, Frill-necks
  • Other relatives: This species is the only member of the genus Chlamydosaurus


Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.


Cover photo: By Andrew Tisinger [CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Contributors and Citations

  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Baton Rouge Zoo
  • Brandywine Zoo