Chlamydosaurus kingii Frilled Lizard
Also known as:
Frill-necked Lizard
Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, AustraliaNovember 18, 2009
Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii) Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
My friend Don Roberson occasionally pesters me about my website’s pronounced lack of Top 10 (or Top 50, or Top <Insert Favorite Number Here>) lists, along the lines of the ones on his site such as this bird one or this mammal one. Well, if I ever get around to making a Top 10 Lizards list, Chlamydosaurus kingii will be right up there near the #1 spot.

Update! I have finally gotten around to making that list, and Chlamydosaurus king is indeed right up there.

This is the animal I most wanted to see in Australia’s Top End. We almost failed, because the week and a half we spent in Frilled Lizard habitat turned out to be a little too early in this particular year for the start of the rainy season, known locally as The Wet. I was hoping for a rainstorm every two or three days, but we experienced only one short-lived rainstorm in our entire visit. Frilled Lizards spend the dry season out of sight, presumably sheltered far above ground in the hollows of trees. When the rains start, they move down to the ground and are frequently seen along the sides of roads. So you can greatly increase your chances of seeing them by arriving during the middle of The Wet, but on the other hand this would also greatly increase your chances of experiencing torrential downpours every day and of being carried off by a cyclone.

We drove past this one, which was perched in typical log-like fashion at the edge of the road, before realizing what it was. By the time we could stop the car, it had run up the hill and out of sight. We searched for it for perhaps ten minutes and had given up and started to head back towards the car when I at last spotted it clinging to a small tree, about six feet off the ground. After getting some photos of the camouflage pose, I gently removed it from the tree and placed it on the ground, where it demonstrated the big Frilled Lizard bluff. “Look! I’m so big and scary! Don’t mess with me!”

I’ve written up an account of this three-week trip to Australia here.

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