Frilled lizard, Frilled dragon
This reptile is the largest species of dragon family of lizards in Australia. The Frilled-neck lizard is called due to its frill (ruff) - a fold of skin, surrounding its throat. The frill of the lizard is thin and extensive, usually lying folded up over the lizard's shoulders. When the animal is threatened or alarmed, the frill extends, rising abruptly. The color of their skin varies depending on the environment, often matching tree bark, which makes the animal extremely difficult to detect. The mouth lining and tongue of the animal are yellow or pink. The Frilled-neck lizards have faint, dark grey stripe on the tip of their tails.
The Frilled-neck lizard is arboreal, spending its time on trunks and branches of trees. This reptile prefers humid climate, usually being found in tropical savannah woodlands. The area of their range includes northern parts of Australia as well as southern New Guinea.
Habits and lifestyle
The Frilled-neck lizard is a solitary hunter. This lizard is an arboreal animal, spending most of its time quietly camouflaged on trees and coming down only at sunrise and sunset in order to feed or mate. The Frilled-neck lizard is a very territorial animal. When threatened, the frill extends, intimidating the rival and making the lizard look much larger than it is. In addition, they use the frill as a mean of communication. These lizards are most active by day while in the morning, they are often seen sunbathing. When sunbathing, the frill of the lizard extends, allowing the animal to get large amount of heat in a short amount of time. When finished, the lizard climbs back onto the tree. Being cold-blooded animal, this reptile has to maintain its body temperature at a suitable level.
Diet and nutrition
The Frilled-neck lizards are polygynous. Mating season lasts from September to November, during which the males compete with each other for their mating rights. After mating, the female lays 1-2 clutches of 12-18 eggs. The eggs are laid in a small underground burrow and incubated during 50 -90 days. The sex of future breeds depends on temperature inside the burrow: higher temperatures yield males while cooler temperatures usually bring females. Parental care is not common among the frilled-neck lizards, and the hatchlings are fully independent. However, they remain together for the first 8-10 days of their lives. The young are able to frill and hunt as soon as they are hatched out. Sexual maturity is reached quite early - at 18-20 months old.
One of the major concerns, threatening their population, is pet trade. The Frilled-neck lizard is presently an extremely popular pet species due to its extraordinary frill and running style. A large number of them live in captivity while many are kept by amateur owners and raised inappropriately. Another notable threat is loss of habitat. These animals dwell on dry trees, which are currently chopped down in large numbers, leading to sharp loss of their habitat. The Frilled-neck lizard is also threatened by predators throughout its range. They are easy prey for a number of predators in the area due to not having defensive weapons except with camouflage.
According to IUCN, the Frilled-neck lizard is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available but the overall number of their population is presently unknown. However, on the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as Least Concern (LC).
Fun facts for kids
- The skin of this animal is scaled, helping the lizard reduce water loss in a dry environment.
- The teeth and jaws of Frilled-neck lizard are fused together.
- The frill plays a key role in their lives. Not only is it important in intimidating a rival, but it also helps the animal regulate the body temperature and find a mate.
- The frill of lizards, found in Queensland, is bright yellow with black markings whereas in northern Australia and New Guinea, these lizards have an orange or red frill.
- They possess cartilaginous spines, connected with jaw bones, helping them keep the erected frill stable.
- When threatened, the lizard raises its forelegs to look larger, extends the frill, opens the mouth and starts hissing. Otherwise, the animal simply runs away, climbing the nearest tree.
- They use bipedalism - a form of locomotion, where the animal runs upright, using only its hind legs.
- Until 1991, this animal has been featuring the Australian two-cent coin.