Added 28 June 2005.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Frilled Lizard


This is a monotypic genus which contains another of Australia's unforgettable lizard species, in appearance as distinctive as the Thorny Devil, M. horridus. C. kingii is unforgettable chiefly for its "frill" which it erects around its neck when angry or seeking to intimidate a perceived threat. When calm (which in captivity is most of the time) the folded frill lays flat against the neck pointing backwards. Another interesting characteristic of the Frilled Lizard is its tendency to run bipedally when in flight.

Until a few years ago these lizards were rare in collections outside Australia, but now they are being bred in increasing numbers. They are actually fairly good-tempered: the biggest challenge is finding a suitably-sized terrarium for them. There is always the danger that a few people will be attracted to them simply because of the frill or the thought of a lizard running on two legs, but they are unlikely to see such behaviour in a captive Chlamydosaurus and should be discouraged from keeping one if that is their only interest.

Species Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
C. kingii  Frilled Lizard  New Guinea, Australia (West Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland) TL 66 cm, SVL 22 cm  Found in dry sclerophyll forests or woodlands; arboreal but otherwise forages on the ground for insects and small vertebrates. In the dry season it is rarely seen but in the wet season frequently. Although it can run very fast on its two hind legs, its preferred tactic is to slowly move from view if approached. The frill is a huge fold of skin supported by a number of cartaliginous processes of the hyoid bone. It is erected in cases of confrontation or as a social display between the lizards, is small in hatchlings and develops with age. Scalation details: canthus very angular; nostril lays in enlarged nasal scale lying below canthal ridge. Dorsal scalation: keeled, including those scales on the frill; row of slightly enlarged nuchal scales present. Ventral scalation: keeled. Other: tympanum is exposed; 6-20 preanal and femoral pores. Coloration: overall grey, brown, orange-brown or blackish; obscure darker markings on back and sides usually present, which may form irregular crossbands on tail; blackish dorsolateral line sometimes present; sometimes a ventrolateral series of large pale ocelli or rhombs [Cogger]; frill colour is dependent on region [Swann & Wilson]: individuals from Western Australia and Northern Territory are red and orange, those from Queensland are grey; ventrally off-white to yellowish. Reproduction: after a month of hibernation, three clutches of 8-14 eggs are laid at monthly intervals: incubation takes about 85-90 days [Manthey & Schuster].