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Frilled-Neck Dragon Pet Care

Updated on April 7, 2013

Frilled-Neck Dragon Care

The Frilled-Neck Dragon, Chlamydosaurus kingii, is comparable in care to that of a Bearded Dragon, but I do not recommended them as a first lizard pet because they tend to be a bit more fierce and bity. In all the years I have had my dragon, I handled mine a handful of times without being bit or shown a threatening display.

Frilled Dragons come from Australia. They usually attain an overall length of 30 inches, and some even reach 36 inches. Most reach an average weight of nearly 1 pound or .5kg. Frilled Dragons are diurnal and arboreal. Frilled Dragons in the pet trade are coming and going. There are a few successful American breeders. When you see a healthy Frilled Dragon, purchase it then because you may not see another one for a few months.

The following information is how I raise my Frilled Dragons. Please leave a comment or question if you have any, or if you feel there needs to be any corrections.

Frilled Dragon Habitat

A single Frilled Dragon adult will need a rather large cage. Frilled Dragons need a cage that is 3 feet long by 4 feet tall by 2 feet deep. See the photo at the end of this article for the cage I custom built for my dragon. My cage is 4 feet long by 6 feet tall by 2 and a half feet deep. Since Frilled Dragons spend most of their time in trees basking, it is necessary to provide plenty of climbing branches. I also gave my dragon a large floor area and water bowl to soak in. Your dragon will most likely go all the way to the bottom of the cage to defecate, and will often defecate in the water, similar to what iguanas do. I recommend trying this because it makes keeping the cage clean easier. I provided a few hiding areas at the bottom of the tank and some surfaces for them to rub against to aid in shedding.

Frilled Dragon Lighting

Frilled Dragons are diurnal. Because of this, they require UVA/UVB lighting. Keep Frilled Dragons around 80-85 degrees. A hot spot just around 92 degrees is enough for them to digest their food well. At night, the cage can drop to 75 degrees without any harmful effects. Frilled Dragons tend to bask at the highest point in the cage. Unlike keeping a hot side and a cold side in a reptile cage, you want to keep a hot top and cool bottom.

Frilled Dragon Humidity

Frilled Dragons require humidity levels around 55%, which is easy to achieve. Levels lower than 55% can cause shed retention and levels over 65% can cause bacterial and mold growth, and respiratory infections. The best way to keep the humidity near 55% is to mist the tank once in the morning. Make sure to spray the dragon himself to encourage drinking.

Frilled Dragon Diet

Frilled Dragons mainly eat insects, but will also eat a bit of vegetation. Frilled Dragons will readily eat crickets and roaches. My adult dragon will eat about 40 large crickets a week. I usually feed about 20 on Wednesday and then 20 more on Saturday. I also provide a small vegetation plate with kale, collard greens, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrot, and parsnip. Some dragons will eat fruit and other vegetables, but the ones I have listed are the staples. I offer the vegetation on Saturday and leave it in the cage until Monday. By Monday, it is getting too dry for the dragon to eat. You can also offer pinkie mice as a treat only given every three months. Pinkies are high in fat, so it is not recommended to be a staple part of a dragon’s diet.

TIP: Because of the large cage size needed for Frilled Dragons, I recommend putting the insects in deep feeding bowls so they cannot escape. I have had success placing the bowls high up in the cage or on the cage floor. As long as the dragon has a clear view of his prey, he will eat. I have shown the bowl of food to my dragon and led him to the bottom shelf of his cage so he knew to always go to that spot to eat. After a while, he would see the bowl and go straight to the shelf. With my cage being so large, it would be very easy for the crickets to escape being eaten, resulting in my dragon becoming malnourished. Plus, you can check the bowl and monitor how much your dragon is eating.

Frilled Dragon Temperament and Handling

Most of the time, Frilled Dragons are quick to display their frills and hiss when you get close. I have seen some dragons that just go straight to biting anyone close to them, skipping the threat display. I feel that Frilled Dragons are a better display animal than a handable animal. However, if you want to hold your Frilled Dragon, you will need to build trust with your dragon. Usually coming from underneath your dragon is a good start. While on the highest perch, I would slowly put my hand under the chin, sliding under his belly. Then I would slowly lift him out. Some days he would let me do this and other days he would bend down and bite my wrist. As each dragon is unique, you may find your dragon is more tolerant of handling.

Frilled Dragon Frill Care

The most unique and probably best part of your Frilled Dragon is the awesome frill. However, this frill can be prone to ripping and scaring. Be sure that many of the climbing surfaces are smooth. With smooth branches, there is less of a chance that the frill would get caught and tear. The wood you see in the picture below was sanded and finished. It had enough grip for the dragon to climb comfortably, but there was not any way he could snag his frill.

Another problem the frill presents, especially in wild-caught dragons, is the infestation of mites. The frill is dark, warm, and a perfect spot for mites to live. The best way to get rid of the mites is to flush the frill with warm water and use a Q-tip to physically remove the mites. The Q-tip will help you determine if you have gotten all of the mites out of a particular fold of the frill because it will come back white/clean. If there are mites or eggs, you will be able to see them on the Q-tip. Once you feel that all of the mites are off, clean the frill with a diluted solution of Betadine and water. Betadine is a topical antiseptic that will clean out any open bite sores. Lastly, rub mineral oil into all the folds. The mineral oil will deter any other mites from infesting and will suffocate any mites you may have missed. To apply the Betadine solution and mineral oil, use a plastic oral syringe. They are only $3 at your typical drugstore. Also, if your dragon has mites, you have to clean the cage in much the same way to completely rid your dragon of mites.

Frilled Dragon Sex Determination

In adults, it is easy to tell what is male and what is female. Males have much larger frills and are generally longer than females. The coloration of both sexes is similar however.


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    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      4 years ago from Illinois

      @Karen. As far as my understanding goes, frilled dragons are only farmed in Indonesia. With that being said, their care is not so different as you have said. Frilleds originally come from Australia and New Guinea. Since Indonesia run along the same longitudinal line as New Guinea, their care is identical to that of a typical frilled dragon. If you take an Australian or New Guinean dragon and farm raise it in Indonesia, it is still an Australian or New Guinean dragon. They do not originate in Indonesia.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi there, I have a 2 year old female but how can i tell if she is an Australian one or an Indonesian one? As depending where they originate from their care will be completely different.


    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      @JLS2013: Mites are a big problem with Frilled Dragons. Mites can carry disease which can then infect your Frilled Dragon when they bite the animal. Frilled Dragons primarily get mite infestations in the folds of their frills. They usually have mites when they are wild caught specimens which was the most readily available frilled dragon before captive breeders successfully filled up some of the gap.

      However, from my experience, once I completely cleaned my frilled dragon of mites, I did not see them reappear. I was given a frilled dragon from a friend of mine. When I examined him, he had mites all over his frill. There were even mites in the wood branches of his cage. So, I went to the basics inside the cage, plastic water bowl, plastic hide, and plastic climb box. Everything else was thrown away. I cleaned off the mites using Jurassic Mite, mineral oil, and lots of baths and Q-tips. It took about 10 days before I stopped seeing anymore mites, but to this day, they have not returned.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Im planning on getting a 6month old male in October, and I just treated the one we have in stores for mites.. I was told mites are more so of a snake problem and can just irritate a Frilled but really don't tend to go for them (like how fleas can bite humans but infest dogs kind of thing). I was just wondering though, are mites a big problem with these guys and will they need to be treated for them often, or can I plan on just treating him once and not really see them again?

    • cool2s profile image


      5 years ago from Kewaskum, WI


    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      @cool2s: The bearded dragon hub is being edited now.

    • cool2s profile image


      5 years ago from Kewaskum, WI

      thanks for writing a hub on dragons it was very interesting information! but could you write one on bearded dragons because that is the type of dragon I have. but still cool hub!

    • Reptile Joe profile imageAUTHOR

      Reptile Joe 

      5 years ago from Illinois

      @toyyilynn: Thank you for your feedback! If you have any questions about Frilled Dragons or would like to see a specific reptile pet care hub, feel free to message me.

    • torrilynn profile image


      5 years ago

      Hi Reptile Joe,

      I really did learn a lot about the frilled neck dragon and

      the proper way to take care of it. I find it interesting that

      they eat roaches and crickets and that the cage has to be kept

      at a constant temperature in order to avoid shedding and mold.

      great information and I can't wait to read more from you soon.

      Voted up, interesting, and shared !


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