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FRILLED DRAGON Caresheet
Common Name: Frilled Dragon, Frilled Lizard
Scientific Name: Chlamydosaurus kingii
Origin: Northern Australia and Southern New Guinea
Size: 2-3' head to tail (females smaller)
Lifespan: 8-10 years
You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
The frilled dragon is known for its defensive display of spreading its large neck frill when threatened. However, it's important that you don't try to get your animal to do this because it will only cause unnecessary stress.
In the wild, frilled dragons are arboreal, spending most of their time above ground. They are very well adapted to living in trees and can climb "like monkeys." They are an intermediate care reptile and will need a very large and tall custom enclosure when they are adults. It's also not a bad idea to cover two or three of the side walls to provide your pet with a greatly sense of security.
Young frilled dragons can be kept in something like an Exo terra 24" x 18" x 36" for about the first 6-8 months of life.
Note: You cannot keep them from growing by housing them in a small cage. That's a myth. It won't make for a happy, well adjusted frilled dragon.
After your frilled dragon out grows its starter enclosure, or if you begin with one 6 months or older, you need to have a larger enclosure such as the Exo Terra large xtall (36" x 18" x 36"). We don't recommend screen enclosures for frilled dragons as it is very difficult to keep the humidity right. (unless you live in a very humid climate) These will last you until your dragon is about 2.5' long. (All body measurements include the tail.) Adult dragons need an enclosure of no less than 4' wide 2' deep and 6' high. There are many suggestions online for making a custom enclosure.
If you have space, go bigger. Designing an enclosure for your frilled dragon can be fun. Add branches or structures for climbing on. They will also appreciate horizontal shelves or wide logs. They don't always want to have to cling on to something vertical.
For substrate, you want something that holds humidity well, like Zilla jungle mix or Zoo med eco earth.
Frilled dragons are best on their own. If you want two or more, make sure there is only one male. Multiple males will fight, especially if females are present. The dimensions for enclosures listed above are based on one animal. If you have two, double the size.
LIGHTING & TEMPERATURES
Frilled dragons need a basking area and a cooler section within the enclosure so they can regulate their body temperature. All the heat elements should be located on one side and the other will be the cooler side.
Dragons are especially adapted to getting heat from above so the basking spot should be located in the upper part of the cage. Focus the heat light on a branch or shelf. The temperature should be between 100-115 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't place the heat source too close to the basking spot so as to prevent your pet from getting burned. Also do not use heat rocks. Dragons can be burned badly on these too because they don't realize it's too hot until too late.
For the rest of the enclosure, have an ambient temperature of 85-90 degrees At night, temps can drop to as low as 75-80 degrees. Use a good quality temperature gauge, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer.
In addition to heat, dragons need UVB lighting to help absorb calcium and to synthesize vitamin D3. Since they are removed from natural sunlight in our homes, we must provide UVB light in the form of a special fluorescent bulb designed to produce UVB rays.
The best bulbs are the mercury vapors such as Exo Terra's Solar Glo bulbs, ZooMed's Powersun, or Solar bright bulbs. These provide heat and UVB all in one bulb. You can also use separate basking (heat) bulb and UVB bulbs. If you use these you will want the Zoo Med 5.0 or Exo Terra UVB 100 variety. Depending on the height on your basking area, you may need a stronger UVB bulb.
Frilled dragons get their H20 intake mainly by drinking water droplets. So it's important to maintain humidity around 70%. Unless you are in a very dry area, misting the enclosure a few times a day will usually provide enough moisture. A nice humidity gauge can help you in this area. Hand misters are usually sufficient, but if you don't want to hand mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon or Zoo meds reptifogger are a nice options. Exo terras reptile fountain provides bubbling water which also helps to raise humidity levels.
Always provide a nice sized dish with fresh water. Your lizard may drink from this, but it might just enjoy bathing instead. They may also use it to defecate in so keep the change of water fresh, and be sure to scrub the bowl at least once a week to prevent bacteria slime from building up.
Frilled dragons are mostly insectivores and should eat everyday. If your adult has good body weight, you can feed every other day. Variety is important. Don't feed them the same things each day. They can get bored and picky if you do. Mix it up. They can eat crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, hornworms, and other bugs or small invertebrates. They will also eat fish and rodents (not more than once a week for these). Some will also eat some greens and fruits.
Make sure to dust your dragon's food with calcium and vitamins such as Repashy calcium plus or Zoo Med Repti-calcium with D3
Frilled dragons are intelligent, and can make great pets. However, they are not for everyone. Baby dragons usually do not bite, but excessive handling should be avoided until your animal gets used to you. Your first impulse will be to hold your new dragon and pet it. We strongly suggest you do not do this. It takes time to tame your dragon. The best way is to be patient and proceed slowly.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON
Place your dragon's enclosure in an area where it can see you moving about. Let it watch you put food in the enclosure. Talk to your dragon, let it hear your voice. You can change the water, spot clean the enclosure, do busy work near the dragon. Read, work on computer, etc., but do not pick it up or try to touch it at this time. Why? You are letting the dragon get used to you, your movements and your voice in a nonthreatening manner. Frilled dragons are curious animals, and once they get used to you, they will start staying out rather than hiding when you are around. That's the first step.
Frilled dragons are very food oriented, and if they see you as the food giver, they will start to trust you sooner. Once they get over their nervousness, they will be bolder and soon will start to come to you when you bring food. Eventually, your dragon might jump onto your hand or arm when you are reaching in the enclosure to do something. Success!
Now is the time to start interacting more with it. Let it stay on your arm, talk to it, gently try to pet it on the back or side. Remember, let your lizard come to you. Eventually, your dragon will trust you and come running when you approach to the enclosure. This is the time when you can finally start holding your pet.
Have patience. In some cases, this taming process can take weeks or even months. Remember, your dragon can live an average of 10 years so this part is truly worth the effort. You will be so happy when you are walking around the house with a happy and trusting frilled dragon riding your shoulder or on top of your head. Think of your adult dragon coming over to you for some petting time. It's up to you to help make this happen. They take some work and are not immediately tame like a bearded dragon, but they are worth the extra effort.