Frilled-Neck Dragon Pet Care
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.