Oct 162011

Frilled Lizard: Chlamydosaurus kingii

Adult Size
Males about three feet (including tail), females roughly half that size,
weighing around one pound.

Life Span
Uncertain. Oldest in captivity lived 20 years.

Male/Female Differences
Males are much larger than females, have larger frills around the head, and more colour in their frills.

While reasonably tame towards humans, frilled lizards can be quite aggressive towards other lizards. While they may be kept together as juveniles, they should be separated before maturity.

Southern New Guinea and across Northern Australia. The frilled lizard is a strong icon in Australian culture, appearing on their currency and as the mascot of various teams and organizations.

Warm, varying between dry and wet seasons.

Day Cycle
Diurnal (awake during the day)

Ideal 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit, with a basking point around 100 degrees.

Like many lizards the frilled lizard is a basking animal. It needs exposure to UVB radiation in order to synthesize vitamin D3 and properly metabolize calcium. This is available commercially in fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and mercury vapor bulbs. Mercury vapor has the advantage of providing heat as well as UVB. These lights also emit UVA radiation, which is speculated to help your animal see its prey better and help regulate emotional health.

Humid but not overly so, 70%.

Savannah and warm tropical forest.

Wood chips, mulch, and moss provide a naturalistic substrate that helps to retain moisture and raise humidity. Many vets advocate the use of either cage carpet or newspaper, reduces the risk of impaction resulting from accidentally ingested bedding.

Hiding Place/Den
Frilled lizards are semi-arboreal and will enjoy a raised area where they can feel secure. Sandblasted driftwood or cholla (cactus skeleton) make great, natural-looking hiding places.

Cage Type
Juveniles can be housed in glass aquaria, keeping in mind that purchasing a larger aquarium up front will mean not having upgrade every few months. Adults should be housed in a cage at least 3x3x4 feet, similar to those used for adult iguanas or large birds.

Frilled lizards are primarily carnivorous, eating a variety of insects, spiders, and small vertebrates in the wild. An assortment of crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and eventually frozen mice if you wish will do in captivity. Be sure to gut-load your insects (feeding them a high-nutrition food for at least 24 hours before offering to your reptile) to ensure optimal nutrition. Insects should be pared with a small amount of dark leafy greens.

The insects being fed should be lightly dusted with a calcium supplement 5-7 times per week, and a multivitamin supplement once or twice per week.

Diet Precautions
Avoid feeding exclusively one prey item, or only one type of veggie. A varying, rotational diet will result in the healthiest lizard.

Feed 6-7 appropriately sized prey items per day. Leave a small dish of veggies to see if your lizard eats them.

Water Source
A large open pan of water is best, in which your lizard can soak and defecate. Misting the cage several times daily also provides ‘dew’ your lizard will greedily consume.

As long as your lizard is properly hydrated it should shed its skin easily. If it does not, make sure the environment is properly misted and soak your lizard in a tepid bath. There are shedding aids to add to the bath available.

Oral and Foot Care
Placing rocks into your lizard’s environment can help to wear down its nails, but if they become overgrown you can bring them to Wilmette Pet
or your local herp veterinarian to be trimmed.

Proper Handling
Scoop up your lizard from behind holing it gently but firmly in your hands. Do not grab it by the tail or limbs.

Habitat Maintenance
Substrate should be changed out monthly if using mulch or chips, whenever soiled if using carpet or newspaper. Mist the cage daily, and change out the water daily or whenever soiled.

Health Concerns
Metabolic bone disease results from a lack of adequate calcium available to the body, either from lack of supplementation, over supplementation, or lack of proper lighting. It manifests as soft weak limbs and jaw, bad posture (lying flat against the ground), refusal to feed, and general lethargy. Keeping the cage to cool will result in malnutrition and possible infection. Keeping the cage overly humid can result in respiratory infection.

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