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Frill-necked Lizard

 
 

Image: Wikipedia.org (GNU Free Documentation License)

Description: The aptly named Frill-necked Lizard may measure up to three feet in total length. Males are much larger than females. When frightened, the Frill-necked lizard opens its gaping yellow or pink mouth which activates its frill, a large mass of skin that opens kind of like an umbrella folded back against the head and neck. The frill has bold white markings, orange and red scales, and is supported by spines of cartilage.The display is often successful in scaring off predators, but if it fails, the lizard is a fast runner (it runs on its two hind legs) and is cryptically colored to blend in with vegetation. It also hisses and lashes its tail. This species has a particularly long tail that may account for up to 2/3 of the total body length.

Diet: The Frill-Necked Lizard eats insects (especially cicadas), ants, and occasionally other lizards. It is largely arboreal (hunts in trees).

Habitat/Range: The Frill-necked Lizard occupies savanna woodlands or tropical forests with appropriate undergrowth in southern New Guinea and parts of northern and western Australia. Some people keep them as pets.

Breeding: Mating usually occurs in September. Female lizards lay up to 23 eggs in November in a nest placed in a sunny location. The eggs hatch after two or three months. Gender of the hatchlings in determined by temperatures. Females are born in extremely hot conditions whereas males or females are born in more moderate conditions.

Status: The Frill-Necked Lizard is a beloved species in its native Australia. It was even honored on the reverse side of that nation’s two cent coin (now out of circulation). It is still common but populations are thought to be in decline because of habitat destruction and because of encounters with feral cats. Some people take them out of the wild to have as pets.