: Presenting our twelfth animal of note: the Frilled Lizard.
NAME: Frill-Necked Lizard
KINGDOM/PHYLUM/CLASS/ORDER->Suborder->Infraorder/FAMILY->Subfamily/GENUS & SPECIES:
LENGTH: 7090 cm (2736 inches)
WEIGHT: up to 455 grams (1 lb)
HABITAT: tropical savannah woodlands.
WHAT IT EATS: various types of insects.
DESCRIPTION: The frill-necked lizard (also called the frilled lizard or frilled dragon) is so called because of the large ruff of skin which usually lies folded back against its head and neck. The neck frill is supported by long spines of cartilage which are connected to the jaw bones. When the lizard is frightened, it gapes its mouth, exposing a bright pink or yellow lining; the frill flares out as well, displaying bright orange and red scales. This reaction is often used to discourage predators or during courtship.
This relatively large lizard is a member of the agamid family. It is also capable of bipedal locomotion.
The frill-necked lizard does not have a standard colour; however, it is characterized by a body that is darker than its frill. When the lizard is resting, its spectacular frill(s) lies folded over its shoulders.
It is found mainly in the northern regions of Australia and southern New Guinea. It inhabits humid climates such as those in the tropical savannah woodlands. They like to bathe themselves in the sun like other reptiles.
It is an arboreal lizard, meaning it spends most of its time in the trees, which are most importantly used for camouflage. There is not one standard colour for the frill-necked lizard: rather, coloration varies according to the lizard's environment. For example, a lizard found in a dryer, clay filled environment will most likely have a collage of oranges, reds, and browns; whereas a lizard found in a damper, more tropical region will tend to show darker browns and greys. This suggests that the lizards use their habitats for protection in the form of camouflage.
DIET: Like many lizards, frill-necked lizards are insectivorous, feeding on cicadas, beetles, and termites. They especially favour butterflies and moths, their larvae even more so. Though insects are their primary source of food, they also consume spiders, other lizards, and small mammals.
Like most members of the agamids (dragons), frill-necked lizards employ an ambush method of hunting, lying in wait for their prey. When the lizards eat, they eat in abundance; these binge periods usually occur during the wet season, when the lizards will ingest hundreds to thousands of alates (ants or termites).
BEHAVIOUR: The neck frill of the lizard is raised to discourage attackers and encourage potential mates, and it is also thought to aid in the regulation of body temperature in relation to their immediate surroundings.
BREEDING & LIFE CYCLE: The frill-necked lizard is sexually dimorphic; meaning the male and female frill-neck differ in their physical appearance. This dimorphism is apparent in the length of the lizard; the male is generally larger than the female. There is little to no dimorphism in the colour of the lizard. Frill-necked lizards breed in the early wet season from September to October. Adult males fight for mates, displaying their frills and biting each other.
One to two clutches of 823 eggs are laid from early to mid-wet season from November to February. The eggs are laid in a nest 520 cm below ground, and usually in sunny areas. Incubation takes two to three months. Gender is partly temperature determined, with extreme temperatures producing exclusively females, and intermediate temperatures (29 to 35°C) producing equal numbers of males and females. Their eggs are soft-shelled.
PREDATORS: The species' main threats are eagles, owls, larger lizards, snakes, dingoes and quolls.
CULTURAL CONTRIBUTION: A frill-necked lizard was featured on the reverse of the Australian 2-cent coin until 1991. A frill-necked lizard, known as "Lizzie," was the mascot for the 2000 Paralympic Games.
The emblem of the Australian Army's Regional Force Surveillance Unit, Norforce (North West Mobile Force) is the frill-necked lizard. The lizard was selected as the unit's emblem because of its speed, aggression, and ability to blend in with its surroundings.
Because of their unique appearance and behaviour, the frill-necked lizard is commonly depicted in children's cartoons. A frill-necked lizard named Frank appears in the Disney film THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER and one named Osgood appears in the anime NOOZLES. In ADVENTURES OF THE LITTLE KOALA, the character "Macky Macky" is a frill-necked lizard whose neck frill raises up when he gets excited.
In the film JURASSIC PARK, the dinosaur Dilophosaurus was portrayed with a fictional neck frill, which was raised during attack, similar to that of a frill-necked lizard. The movie generated an increase in demand for the frill-necked lizard as a pet.
Frilled lizards can be kept as pets in all states of Australia, except Western Australia and Tasmania, with a permit or licence. Under the licence or permit in most areas the lizards must be kept in a warm environment, owners must have experience in keeping reptiles and animals must be captive bred stock purchased from licensed dealers, since it is illegal to take animals from the wild.
6TEEN, Nikki Wong © Fresh Animation (nka FreshTV) Inc & NELVANA Ltd.