The sun-loving frilled lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) is the reptile emblem of Australia, and also the inspiration for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games mascot “Lizzie”.
Frilled lizards are common in the monsoonal woodlands of northern Australia and southern New Guinea. Adults are usually brown, and males are more colourful than females. However, the lizards vary in colour to blend in with their habitat, and a frilled lizard from one area may be brighter than one from another area. These tree dwelling dragons eat insects such as ants, spiders and crickets. When they are resting, their spectacular frills lie folded over their shoulders. The frill is raised to discourage attackers and encourage potential mates, and it is also thought to aid in the regulation of body temperature.
John Dengate visited Taronga Zoo to talk to lizard keeper Michael Muscat. The zoo has a very successful frilled lizard breeding program, with three clutches of lizards hatched in just four months. Taronga’s latest clutch of nine frilled lizards started displaying their distinctive frills when they were only about two weeks old! Michael says that frilled lizards make great pets, and are easy to look after as long as you provide them with crickets to eat and keep them warm.
Adult frilled lizards are on display daily at Taronga Zoo, Bradley’s Head Road, Mosman, NSW. Phone: (02) 9978 4607. The baby lizards are still in the nursery.
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.
It is illegal to take animals from the wild.
ACT – C class permit required (experienced, proper facilities, captive bred stock from a licensed breeder). Fee is $10 per financial year. Phone: ACT Licensing Service Officer, (02) 6207 6376.
NSW – class 3 licence (must have demonstrated experience in keeping reptiles). Phone: National Parks & Wildlife Service, (02) 9585 6444.
NT – permit required. Phone: Parks & Wildlife Commission of NT, (08) 8999 4795.
QLD – licence and log book required. Phone: Department of Parks & Wildlife, (07) 3202 0200 (for nearest local office).
SA – permit required. Phone: Environment & Natural Resources Dept., (08) 8204 8702.
VIC – licence required (must be captive bred stock). Phone: Game & Wildlife Licensing Unit (03) 9412 4992 (9am-12 noon).