Frilled Neck Facades

Frilled Neck Lizard Facts

The frill-necked lizard is the lizard emblem of Australia and has a distinctive neck frill which it raises when threatened to make itself seem bigger and presumably more frightening. It will also use this prey to display itself during courtship. They’re known for the distinctive run they perform on their hind legs when escaping predators which have earned them the name ‘bicycle lizard.’

They are very territorial and will defend their territory via hissing (displaying a white gape), neck frill displays and rising on their hind legs. The frilled-neck lizard is quite arboreal, spending most of its time in trees. They are quite large, and can sometimes grow up to one metre in length. They consume arthropods, insects and other small vertebrates. It is thought that the frill can also be used as a ‘parachute’ when jumping off burning trees during a bushfire, and for thermoregulation. Source: Wildspeak

Australian Frilled Lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii) belong to the family of dragons, as the name Frilled Dragon indicates (the proper scientific name of the family is Agamidae).

They are a fairly big lizard, growing to over 90 cm (ok, the tail makes up about two-thirds of that length), and weighing up to half a kilo.

Frilled Neck Lizards rely on camouflage for their safety, so their mostly grey and brown colours match those of their surroundings.

To open the frill the lizard opens its mouth widely. Somehow the muscles of the jaw and the tongue are connected to some cartilage in the frill, opening the frill like an umbrella.

The startling bright coloured frill, nearly a foot across (usually 20 – 25 cm), the mouth wide open displaying the strong teeth… The Frilled Lizard now looks very dangerous indeed. Until it starts running that is…

Australian Frilled Lizards are carnivorous and hunt for their food in trees and on the ground. In the trees they find spiders, cicadas, beetles etc., and on the ground more of the same plus ants and even other small lizards. Their eye sight is excellent and they are very fast. If they spot something from a tree they drop to the ground, grab it and are back up on the tree within seconds.

As mentioned above, they mostly rely on camouflage to protect themselves. Whether in the tree or on the ground, a Frilled Neck Lizard with its frill folded around the shoulders, lying down and perfectly still, blends in very well with its surroundings and is hard to spot.

If you do spot a Frilled Lizard on a tree it’s still near impossible to take a photo: as you approach the tree the lizard moves around the trunk to the other side. And as you go around to the other side the lizard does the same, always remaining exactly on the opposite side, while both of you try to sneak a look at the other…

The story is a different one if a Frilled Lizard is on the ground. Again, first, it tries to be “invisible”. Once a Frill Neck Lizard realises that its cover is blown it changes its strategy:

The lizard opens its mouth to expose the strong teeth, which also opens the impressive orange frill, making the lizard look twice as big. In addition, it rears up on the hind legs, hisses thrashes its tail on the ground, and it might even jump towards an attacker hoping to scare them off.

Source: Outback Australia Travel Guide

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