Today in my A-Z of Australia series, I want to share another one of Australia’s unique animals with you – the frilled-neck lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) – King’s Cloaked Lizard.
The frilled-neck lizard is quite an unusual looking lizard – but I think he is quite pretty in his own way.
These little guys can be found in tropical rainforests from the Kimberley region in Western Australia across the Northern Territory to Cape York in north eastern Queensland. They are also found in southern Papua New Guinea.
The “frill” lies folded against the neck and is used in a spectacular display to deter rival males and would-be attackers – but it’s mostly bluff, using it to look bigger and scarier!
He makes a hissing sound with his mouth whilst running upright on his two back legs towards his predator – it’s quite a funny sight to see!
Watch this frilly-neck display
If his scare tactics don’t work, they usually run away, heading for the nearest tree to bolt up, but in spite of their ferocious appearance, they are quite harmless, eating mainly insects and spiders.
They range in colour from olive through greyish brown to almost black and the frill has a variety of colours from yellow to jet back, with bright orange and red scales.
Adults weigh about 500grams (17.6oz), reaching 70-95cm (27-37 inches) overall.
Hatchlings are 5-6cm (just over 2 inches) long.
Mating occurs around September and the female can lay up to three clutches of 8-20 eggs in a season.
The eggs are laid in November, in a hole in the ground and the tiny hatchlings start appearing early February. The temperature at which the eggs are incubated determines the sex of the baby frilled-neck lizard, but it does much more than that – the temperature affects things like the size, shape, behaviour and the running speed of the hatchling.
Once the eggs are buried, maternal instincts run out and the shallow nest is abandoned to incubate for 8-12 weeks. As soon as they hatch, the youngsters fend for themselves immediately.
They have quite a few predators – hawks, eagles and owls; also pythons, large snakes and goannas, dingoes and quolls – and sadly, humans (many being killed on the roads). However, if they survive into adulthood, their lifespan can be anything from 6 to 20 years.
He is such a unique, interesting little lizard, and quite the character -
and I’m happy to say that he is not on the endangered list.