Some people have a thing about dogs, and some for cats. And if you ask me, I have a thing about reptiles; all kinds of them, especially snakes. Although I am careful enough to avoid becoming too personal with them, I always stay keen in studying about their behavior and other lifestyle habits. Black mamba is one creature that fascinates me the most. It is more fierce in its nature than what it portrays from its looks. But snakes are not what we are discussing here, are we? It is about lizards, one of the most interesting species on Earth. And this article is not just about any ordinary lizard that you get to see everyday, hiding in one corner of your house, with its eyes fixed on one or two flies buzzing around its mouth-watering tongue. I am talking about the frilled lizard. Also known as the frilled dragon, the very sight of this cold-blooded reptile causes a cold sensation to run down the spine of some people, while it leaves some wonder in amazement. The regions of the northern Australia and southern New Guinea are the places which are populated by this member of the dragon family.
Quick Facts About the Frilled Lizard
Description: Reaching up to a size of 3 ft (0.9 m) in length, and weighing 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg), this reptile gets its name from the large skin flap that encircles its head, which under normal circumstances, remains pleated. This flap is supported with the help of long spines of cartilage, that connect this structure to the jaw bones of the lizard. The creature's mouth has a lining that is yellow or bright pink. When the reptile senses danger from a predator or during courtship, it opens its mouth wide open, flares its hood and displays a conspicuous arrangement of scales of bright orange. To add more to these effects, the lizard produces a hissing sound and does all this while standing on its hind legs. Now, if I were unaware of the fact that the frilled lizard is harmless to human beings, I honestly wouldn't have had the heart to stand in front of this creature when it is in its threatening posture as I just described!
Habitat: Speaking of the frilled lizard habitat, tropical and warm temperate forests and savanna happen to be the places that provide this creature with just the perfect environment for its survival and reproduction. This lizard spends a major part of its life as an arboreal, and occasionally descends to the ground foraging. Besides food being a reason for the reptile to live on trees, camouflaging is something that is more important for the creature. And according to its environment, the lizard takes on a suitable color that may keep it camouflaged. For instance, if it happens to stay in a dryer region, then it may have a blend of oranges, reds and browns. And one that lives in a more humid region, can be found in shades of darker brown and gray.
Diet: As it is in the case of most of its cousins, its diet primarily consists of insects. Its menu commonly includes ants, beetles and termites; butterflies and moths, being the delicacies. On some occasions, the may change, and include small lizards, spiders, and even small mammals. During summers, the frilled lizard diet comprises normal amounts of food. However, when mercury starts dropping, and winter begins to set in, it abandons its table manners, and gobbles up more than hundreds to thousands of ants or termites. This it does probably to protect itself from cold and low availability of food during the winters.
Reproduction: One can tell a male frilled lizard from a female by the length of the reptile; male being the larger one. However, there is no specific color variation between the two sexes. The period from September to October kicks off the breeding season for this species. The male wins the right to mate with a female, by engaging in a battle with a potential rival. It uses its threatening posture to intimidate the other, and if required, biting each other may also occur. After the gestation period is over, the female typically lays a clutch of 8 to 23 tiny eggs, in a nest built underground. The heat in the incubation period somewhat determines the sex of the to-be-born juvenile. High temperature increases the chances of female offspring, while intermediate temperature is known for the birth of equal number of both sexes. An interesting fact to know is, baby frilled lizards emerge as fully independent and pre-trained in hunting skills, and guess what, they just know how to flare their tiny frills too!
The frilled lizard is preyed upon by birds of prey; eagle being the most common, other lizards of larger species, snakes, and feral cats. Although there is no study on the life span of this creature in the wild, in captivity, some specimens lived for 20 years.