Frill-necked Lizard

Frill-necked Lizard, Queensland, AustraliaNamed for the skin around its neck, the frill-necked lizard can be found mostly in northern Australia and southern New Guinea.  The “frill” looks like a stylish neck cape most of the time, but when the lizard is alarmed or defensive, the neck flares up into a jagged, menacing ruff.


Usually you see the lizard as photographed here, with just a flap of skin near its neck.  To be honest, usually you don’t see it at all.  Chlamydosaurus kingii are arboreal lizards, and they don’t come out of the trees too often; and when they do, they blend right in.


A relatively large lizard, they are about 33 inches (85 cm) long, with half that length as the body, and half as the tail.  They eat insects and small vertebrates, and come out of the trees to eat.  More info here.  They’re really fast on the ground, often running on their two back legs.

Frill-necked Lizard, Queensland, Australia

Frill-necked Lizard, Queensland, Australia


The first time we saw one, we were driving to a remote park and came across something about a foot tall on the road.  It vanished when we got close, but it didn’t hop like a rabbit or kangaroo, or run like a dingo.  So we screeched to a stop, ran to where we saw it disappear, but never saw anything.  About a week later we were with an Australian guide, figured out from the guide’s description it had been this lizard.


The guide then took us to a forest filled with termite mounds, no humans anywhere.  At first we didn’t see any lizards until the guide prompted us, pointed them out.  Then we saw one on nearly every tree!


Frilled Lizard

Image: Lizard Lounge

It’s perfect that this fiery dragon-like lizard is just another unique creature in The Land Down Under.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander except as noted

48 thoughts on “Frill-necked Lizard

    • If a “frillie” could talk to us, I think he or she would be happy with that description you just gave. So I am too. 😀 Thanks so very much, and thank you for all the beautiful posts you share. 😀

    • All the places you visit and wildlife you observe in this world, I am sure you will find a frilled-neck lizard one day when in Queensland. Until then, I am glad you enjoyed the post, Matthias. Thanks so much. 😀

    • That’s right. And it’s always so different in foreign countries, because the creatures are different. But, oh, what a joy it is when you start to see…. Thanks so much for your visit and comment my friend. 😀

      • It is…I was sitting once with mom, before Boeta, in a forest…thinking…not much happening. I heard something move in the underbrush, tried to find out, mom saw a bird (woodpecker) and followed it…suddenly everything exploded around us…I eventually tossed my hands in the air went back to the bench were 30 minutes earlier I thought nothing was happening, poured a cup of coffee and tried to take in as much as possible…mom joined me..every now and then we just pointed to a new find…incredible, special and liberating…vivid.

      • I loved your story here, thinking nothing is happening when in fact SO MUCH is happening. I live in a forest and when people come to visit they don’t have cell phone coverage and they’re a little freaked by how quiet and uneventful it is. And to us, so much is happening all the time! Birds being born, squirrels investigating the new acorns, ants carrying berries to their nest, a pile of feathers indicating a fox visited sometime in the night and took out a dove. Thanks so much for your comment and moving story. 😀

  1. Wouldn’t want to see one running toward me, but would love to see one – or many – clinging to a tree. Good travel story where your curiosity paid off! Wonderful creatures, lovely photograph!

    • They are very difficult to see up close because they’re so skiddish. So the guide pointed them out first while we were still inside the car, and then we mostly used binoculars and long lenses. I’m happy you enjoyed the post, pc, and hope your own road trip and travel stories continue to multiply. 😀

    • They don’t get frazzled by quiet birders, so I had to borrow the wiki image for the frilled-out look. But I, too, like the ones Athena did, illustrating the camouflaging and length and habitat. Thanks so very much Elisa — I appreciate your warm comments. 😀

    • The scientific term for a creature moving on their two back legs is “bipedalism.” Maybe it’ll come up in Scrabble for you, Kirt. lol. It’s amazing to watch because they go so fast and look like they’re standing up. Thanks, as always my friend, for stopping by today. I hope your new week is great. 😀

    • Originally I did not have the cape-in-action photo included, because we didn’t have one; had observed them only in non-threatened activity. But I borrowed that last image from wiki so you could see how much the lizard looks like a dragon and what the frilled neck really looked like. I’m delighted you enjoyed the post, BJ~~ thanks so much. 😀

  2. Don’t you love animals that look intimidating and their really harmless. This is one of them the little dragon with the fantastic image. Great species for superb color photos. Thank you for the post Jet! 🙂

    • I do love that, HJ, when animals look intimidating but they’re not. I learned that is called deimatic behavior…basically bluffing. lol. Enjoyed your comment today, glad you liked the post my friend. 😀

  3. “Menacing” is right! I’m LOL b/c when I saw the title of the post, I pictured a lizard with an Elizabethan, fluffy collar. Not hardly!

  4. They have great camouflage Jet, it’s no wonder you needed a little help to see them in the trees (a bit like those pesky koalas 🙂 ) They looks so innocent until they do the neck thing and then they’re somewhat scary!

    • I smiled, Andrea, that you remembered the koala post and the challenge in spotting them. Australia is full of surprises…and very quirky creatures. So very glad you enjoyed today’s post, and appreciate your visit. 😀

    • Better to come across these harmless lizards than a tribe of cannibals in the forest! Oh what your father must have seen there. Really glad to get your comment today, GP — thanks so much. 😀

      • I try, but time seems so fleeting. I click the Like button so you’ll know I was here to read your post. I’ll try to comment more often.

      • Oh don’t I know well how hard it is to keep up with hundreds of blogs and posts, GP. I, too, wish I could check in more — I’m glad when you do. 😀

    • They only open their frill for a fierce moment, as if to say “back off.” They are really cool, so glad you liked the “frillie” Resa. Thanks for your visits today! 😀

    • He’s the closest creature to a dragon that I’ve ever seen! Glad you enjoyed the “frillie” today, Jan — and thanks so much, as always, for stopping by. 😀

  5. Wow, lucky sighting Jet! Although I am a firm believer that we make our own luck by putting in the time and effort. You clearly did! I wasn’t fortunate enough to see one during my time living in Australia.

    • It is doubtful we would have seen one without the help and expertise of our guide because they’re so camouflaged and skittish too. Very glad you enjoyed the post, David — thanks so much for your visit today. 😀

  6. I almost jumped off my chair when the last photo came up! Imagine meeting that in your morning cereal. 🙂 In the photos where the frill is not in action such a mild looking creature. Amazing camouflage.

    • You got the essence of this ever-changing camouflaging lizard perfectly Sue! They’re pretty quick to change, you don’t know what is coming — but fortunately they’re quite harmless. Thanks so much for your fun comment, Sue. 😀

  7. I haven’t seen one of these in the coastal areas for many years.Many people confuse this one with the bearded dragons, but they are unmistakeable when their frill is extended! Great photos – such a prehistoric looking creature.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s