Frill Necked Lizard: An Elcho Island Galiwin’ku Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, Norther brought to me the speedy  Frilled Neck Lizard

And the beautiful Elcho Island🏝️

Frilled Neck Lizard in Elcho Island Galiwin’ku

COMMON NAME: Frilled Neck Lizard

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Chlamydosaurus kingii

TYPE: Reptiles

DIET: Carnivore

SIZE: up to 85cm

A Frill Necked Lizard or Frilled lizards, or frillnecks,“Frilly” has greyish-brown scales and is usually about 91 cm in length. Though it’s large in size, it weighs just over half a kilogram. This lizard has a longggg tail and claws made for hanging onto the trunk of a tree to climb it in a quick fashion. The brown-grey scales of this lizard help to camouflage it in the trees. 

How does the Frill Necked Lizard Defend Itself?

The scales on the neck frill of this lizard help to prevent loss of moisture in their warm environment. However, they mostly use the frill as a defence mechanism. Frill Neck Lizards prefer to avoid any kind of fight. Thanks to their camouflage they nearly seem to blend with the ground or the branches. They keep their frills folded against their bodies and remain motionless in one spot.

frill necked lizard northern territory elcho island
Frill Necked Lizard from @cruisingaustralia on IG

If they have been detected, they do their best to appear as mean as possible. They open their mouths and display their sharp teeth, spread out their bright frill, stand on their hind legs and beat the ground with their large tails. (dramatic little fella!) This makes the  Frilled Neck Lizard appear almost double their size! It usually works out and frightens their opponent, making them run away

If the opponent is not sufficiently frightened by all the dramatic action, the Frilled Neck Lizard turns around bolts. This run has it nicknamed as the bicycle lizard! The run is one of the funniest things to watch and looks like a cartoon ran off and left only dust behind! 😂 The lizard runs straight to the next tree to hide in.

What does the Frill Necked Lizard Eat?

They are not picky eaters and will eat anything in their way. They, like all of us, have preferences and like to eat insects, and spiders, but they also eat other lizards and small mammals. This reptile has been known to consume hundreds of thousands of termites in one sitting, then not eat again for months. Sounds like a tummy ache waiting to happen!

The males are larger than the females and these lizards reproduce at the start of the wet season. The females lay up to 23 eggs in a deep underground nest. When they hatch, the baby Frill Necked Lizards emerge fully independent and capable of hunting and utilizing their frill. Talk about being fully equipped!

These lizards have few natural predators. Large snakes, owls, and dingos are the most common predators. Foxes and birds of prey also pose a threat. Hatchlings and juveniles are most at risk from predation.


Where does the Frilled Neck Lizard Live?

These are members of the dragon family that live in the tropical warm temperate forests and savanna woodlands of Northern Australia. They can also be found in New Guinea. The lizards are most likely to be found in forested areas and are arboreal. This means that they prefer to spend most of their time in trees and only come down in search of food. These lizards don’t migrate. They are more active during the wet season than they are during the dry season. They are not hibernators but they decrease running and other activities as well as eat less during the dry season. Sounds cool!

This is a cool lizard! It’s time to colour it in. Share this with your friends and see who can do the most creative design. Wanna feature your creation on our Instagram? Email us [email protected] and we’ll share the most creative creation on our Instagram page

Yours in adventure,

Have a Merry Norther Christmas 

Download The Frill Necked Lizard Colouring Page

Christmas – Elcho Island

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Soak in all the deep ancestral knowledge and culture of this ocean side paradise.

Elcho Island Galiwin’ku

Elcho Island is a traditional Aboriginal (Yolngu) community situated approximately 550km northeast of Darwin in the Northern Territory. Known as Galiwin’ku by its traditional owners. This is the second largest and the most remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory.

Elcho is a tropical Island with varying terrain. On the eastern side, the Island is banked with mangroves and mud. This is the perfect hunting ground for a local favourite: mud crab and barramundi. The western side of the Island has sandy beaches and reefs. This is the ideal fishing ground for oysters, crayfish and even turtles. The rest of the Island is filled with tidal creeks and large ochre cliffs which are used for body paint for ceremonies as well as for making paint for art works.

How do you get to Elcho Island? 

A permit is required from the Northern Land Council to visit this community. You can only visit by air on the community’s charter business, Marthakai Yolngu Airlines. 

When on the Island, you can visit the Elcho Island Arts Center. This supports the local Yolngu artists who share their culture through art and are able to obtain income from their art. Be sure to contact the gallery before visiting as it may close due to fieldwork or cultural commitments.

Accommodation on Elcho Island

You can camp at the Galiwin’ku Visiting Contractors Accommodation OR find accommodation at the Marthakal Motel. 

Elcho Island sunset northern territory
Elcho Island sunset by @sarahlouisehickey on IG

Ready to learn more about the First Nations culture on the Island? We would love your feedback on this page – please comment below if you’ve been to Elcho Island or seen a Frilled Neck Lizard.

Norther would like to invite you to explore more about the beauty of Elcho Island here. And… as always you can get more inspiration for other Destinations & National Parks to visit by following @northerhq or get your  Elcho Island daily fix @elchoisland.

*Cover image by @Yothakengsuwan on IG

Picture of Norther


NORTHER ® provides encouragement for travellers to value, enjoy and explore the NT in a one-of-kind way so they can honour and respect culture through care and integrity.

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