Skip to main content - The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


Frilled Lizard

Frilled Lizard Facts

Size 24-40 in (60-100 cm)
Speed Up to 30 mph (48 km/h)
Weight 1.1-2.2 lb (0.5-1 kg)
Lifespan 1-20 years
Food Insects, spiders, cicadas, ants
Predators Snakes, owls, dingoes
Habitat Australia, New Guinea
Class Reptiles
Order Scaled reptiles
Family Agamidae
Scientific name Chlamydosaurus Kingii
Characteristics Long tail, can spread out its frill

Main Characteristics

Like the bearded dragon, the frilled lizard belongs to the agama family. These are scaled reptiles closely related to iguanas. Their special characteristic is the frill around their necks. It's made of skin.

Anatomy and Appearance

The Frill

While the frilled lizard’s body usually is unobtrusively colored, the frill often is bright red or orange. In order to spread it out, the frilled lizard opens its mouth, because the muscles around the jaw and tongue are also attached to a cartilage at the frill. This helps to spread the frill almost automatically. The frill has a diameter of 8-12 inch (20-30 cm).

Frilled Lizard Frilled Lizard - Photo: Susan Schmitz/Shutterstock



Where Do Frilled Lizards Live?

Frilled lizards are passionate climbers and spend more than 90% of their lives in trees.


What Do Frilled Lizards Eat?

Frilled lizards feed on spiders, harvest flies, bugs, and other insects that live in trees. They also hunt for their prey on the ground, e.g. ants and other small lizards. In order to focus on their prey, frilled lizards use their excellent eyesight. They are also extremely fast: When they detect some delicious bite on the ground, they let themselves fall down from the tree, grab the prey and climb back up within seconds.

Frilled Lizard Frilled Lizard - Photo: John Carnemolla/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

How Do Frilled Lizards Defend Themselves?

Plan A: I Am Not Here

Frilled lizards prefer to avoid any kind of fight. Thanks to their camouflage they nearly seem to blend with the ground or the branches. They keep their frills folded against their bodies and remain motionless in one spot.

Plan B: I Am Dangerous

If frilled lizards have been detected, they do their best to appear as mean as possible – as terribly dangerous lizards in their specific case. They open their mouths and display their sharp teeth, spread out their bright frill, stand on their hind legs and beat the ground with their tails (the tail makes up two-thirds of their total body length). This makes the frilled lizard appear almost twice as big, and in many cases this works out and frightens the hell out of the opponent and makes him run away – even though frilled lizards are completely harmless.


Plan C: I Am Gone

If plan B does not work out because the opponent cannot be impressed by all the action, the frilled lizard turns around on its heel and starts to run. It is almost impossible NOT to laugh at this sight, as it is terribly funny to watch the lizard escape on its hind legs, leaving a little could of dust behind. The lizard runs straight to the next tree to hide in.

Frilled Lizard Frilled Lizard - Photo: MarclSchauer/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

Jurassic Park

Have you watched the movie Jurassic Park? Then you surely will have noticed the pre-historic lizards, which suddenly spewed out poison and spread out their huge frills just like an umbrella – quite similar to the frilled lizard! The pre-historic lizard from Jurassic Park is based on the dinosaur Dilophosaurus. Yet, there is no scientific proof that Dilophosaurus spat poison or had a frill.


The frilled lizard "Lizzie" was the official mascot of the Paralympics (Olympic Games for disabled athletes) in Sydney in the year 2000.

Frilled Lizards Love Money

Or is it the Australians who love the frilled lizards? The animal adorned a 2-cent coin, which has been no longer in use since 1992.

Frilled Lizard Frilled Lizard - Photo: Teguh Tirtaputra/Shutterstock


Most Read Amphibian and Reptile Fact Sheets

See all topics on