The frilled lizard looks like a fearsome ancient dinosaur, but this modern-day reptile is a much smaller version. It fans out a retractable frill as a big bluff to scare off attackers. And if the frill show doesn’t work, this speedy lizard has an exit strategy: It will take off running, accelerating so fast it speeds along on just its hind legs, as if it were peddling(sic) a bicycle.
Frill Seeker: When threatened, this lizard opens the U-shaped frill around its neck by extending two flexible, bony rods - similar to the way an umbrella opens. The frill, which can measure up to 10 inches across, makes the lizard look more intimidating to predators that try to eat it.
Tree Crawler: Sharp claws help make the frilled lizard an expert climber. It spends much of the day high up in eucalyptus trees. It goes down to the ground on occasion to hunt for food.
Small but Deadly
For insects and small animals, the frilled lizard looms large as a highly dangerous predator. This reptile chases prey with its mouth open wide, showing its sharp teeth - including two pairs of long fangs, on top and bottom. Once the lizard catches a victim with these mini-daggers, there’s no chance for escape.
Under Control: Like its ancient cousin, stegosaurus, the frilled lizard has its own specialized heating and cooling system. The lizard’s frill is full of blood vessels that help the creature warm up or cool off. It works similar to the way a radiator operates.
Jump Back: Besides running, another escape tactic this lizard employs is to hop up and down like a kangaroo. The strategy seems to be that the attacker, such as a snake or bird of prey, might become frightened by the lizard’s display and back off.
- The lizard’s first line of defense against enemies is to sit completely motionless until the attacker moves away.
- If that doesn’t work, a sudden flip of the frill and a view into the lizard’s gaping mouth might change the predator’s mind.
- If all else fails, the lizard rears up on its hind legs and swipes the air with its claws. If the enemy persists, the lizard turns tail and runs away.