Distribution: Northern Australia and Queensland
Habitat: Dry forests and woodlands
Description: This lizard is the largest of Australia’s ‘dragon’ family of lizards, or agamids. It is most commonly known because of the large frill around its neck that extends when threatened. The lizard’s skin colour and pattern matches tree bark and makes it very difficult to spot.
Diet: Frilled Dragons are carnivores and mostly eat insects, spiders and other invertebrates.
In the wild: The Frilled Dragon spends most of its time on tree trunks and limbs. When the lizard feels threatened it sits on its hind legs, opens its mouth wide and expands its large neck ‘frill’ to make itself look bigger and to frighten predators. The lizard then hisses and jumps towards the predator and lashes its tail on the ground. If this doesn’t scare the predator away, the lizard turns quickly and runs up the nearest tree to hide.
The main predators of Frilled Dragons are raptors, dingos, large monitor lizards, large pythons and feral cats.
Threats: Land clearing has resulted in habitat loss for this lizard. They are also poached and sold in the illegal pet trade.
At Perth Zoo: Perth Zoo has a number of Frilled Dragons inside a mixed exhibit in the Reptile Encounter. See if you can spot them.
Did you know? The Frilled Dragon may also extend its frill to thermoregulate, as it creates more surface area to absorb heat.