Frilled Dragons are arboreal lizards that live in tropical areas of Australia and New Guinea. They are distant cousins to the Bearded Dragon but share very few similarities. Frilled Dragons like being up high in the trees rather than on the ground. The New Guinea Frilled Dragon is the most commonly sold Frilled Dragon. They are grey in color with yellowish tints in their frills but can also have red coloration. Australian Frilled Dragons are larger and can come in grey or reddish orange on their bodies and red in their frill. They also have distinctive white cheeks and are hard to find and very expensive to buy. Occasionally you will come across hybrids of the two or intergrades of the different Australian localities.
Since Frilled dragons like being in the trees, you will want a tall enclosure. Babies should be housed in 29 gallon tanks or larger. Adults should be housed in nothing smaller than 4′ H x 3′ L x 2′ D. Solid enclosures are recommended although as long as you can maintain proper humidity and temperatures, screen/mesh can be used.
Enclosures should be furnished with plenty of live or fake plants. There should be a variety of vertical basking areas as well. Housing multiple dragons is possible although not always recommended. Females can sometimes be housed together but never 2 males. A male/female pair is possible but they have to be unrelated and you have to make sure that the two are not constantly breeding or breeding too young. When you house multiple dragons you will need an enclosure that is double the size generally used for a single dragon. You also face risks of the dragons becoming territorial and fighting for dominance (regardless of gender) which could lead to injuries or death. As mentioned before, you can have a pair over-breed or breed too young which may shorten life expectancy. Housing multiple dragons together also increases the risk of cross contamination which could result in you having to pay 2 vet bills instead of just 1 had they each had their own enclosure.
As with any reptile, substrate is always a topic of debate. With Frilled Dragons it is a little easier to choose however. They spend majority of their time up high and rarely go to the ground other than to eat. Particulate substrates are acceptable to use provided you have chosen one of the “safer” ones. There will always be risks of impaction if you use a particulate substrate; that is just fact. Suitable particle substrates would be organic potting soil with no chemicals or fertilizers, bed-a-beast type substrates, coco-fiber/eco-earth, and some keepers even choose to use play sand. You can combine some of the substrates together like a sand/soil mixture etc. but the choice is yours. There are suitable non-particle substrates as well such as non-adhesive shelf liner, reptile carpet, paper towels (layered) or newspaper (layered). I don’t suggest tile because it is a very rough surface and if your dragon falls, it could get hurt. The other substrates create a cushion if it does fall. For babies I don’t recommend particle substrate because the risk of impaction is greater. The intestines are more compact in their bodies when they are small so they are not able to pass it as easily if they were older. Always avoid calcium sands and crushed walnut. They are death in a bag full of pretty colors.
Feeding can be done in the enclosure or in a separate bin. Most who use particle substrates will feed outside of the enclosure or place live protein in a bowl and monitor the feedings. Any leftover bugs must be removed because they can bite your dragon and cause unneeded stress. Bugs with hard exoskeletons should never exceed the distance between your dragon’s eyes. Soft bodied bugs like silkworms, hornworms, phoenix worms, butterworms, and waxworms can be slightly larger. Staple prey items include roaches, crickets, silkworms, hornworms, and phoenix worms (especially for babies). Superworms can be offered a little more often than treats but slightly less than staple foods. Treat items include butterworms, pinky/fuzzy mice, fish (not goldfish), waxworms, and various fruits (avoid citrus). Certain frilled dragons will eat greens too. Collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens and squash are all suitable staple greens to feed your frilled dragon.
Babies and juveniles should be fed as much as they can eat 2 times a day with live protein. Their meals should be supplemented with a quality calcium powder 6 days a week and 1 day a week with a quality multivitamin powder.
Adults should be offered less protein and feeding frequency should be reduced to every other day. Calcium powder can be brought back to 2-3 times a week and multivitamin remains at 1 day a week. Gravid females should get calcium 5 to 6 days a week however. Calcium WITH D3 should be offered to animals under UVB tube lighting. Caclium WITHOUT D3 should be offered to animals under natural sun or MVB lighting.
Hydration can come in many different forms for frilled dragons. Soaking, misting, or having running water are all good ways. If you soak, make sure the water is never colder or hotter than your dragon. That can cause shock. Soaking however is great in aiding with shedding and promoting good mental health and exercise. Misting helps raise humidity and hydrate your dragon. If you choose to use a water dish it must be cleaned out at least once a day and refilled with fresh water.
UVB/UVA LIGHTING AND TEMPERATURES:
You can use house bulbs for heat. Halogen floodlights work the best for heat because they give off lots more heat at lower wattages than incandescent bulbs. Temperatures should range from 95* to 110*. Be cautious of using higher temperatures because they may cause dehydration issues, burning, or drying out of the enclosure. Frilled dragons need a cool side of the enclosure as well that reaches temperatures of about 70* to 80*.
The most accurate way to get surface temperatures is by using an infrared temperature gun. A slightly less accurate method is by using digital thermometers with probes attached to the basking surface. The stick-on thermometers only read ambient temperatures and even so are known to be inaccurate.
UVB is a very important part of your dragon’s husbandry. Try to stay away from ALL compact fluorescent/coiled UVB bulbs because most have been linked to the burning of the corneas of the frillies and other reptiles and also give out a harmful amount of UVB. The better UVB lights are in the form of a long fluorescent tube or an Mercury Vapor Bulb (MVB). Each has its own pros and cons but remember that a tube UVB needs to be replaced every 6 to 8 months and MVB’s get replaced every 12 to 18 months. For optimal UVB exposure from a tube, keep your frilled dragon 6 to 8 inches from the light and if using a MVB, keep your dragon 12 to 14 inches from the light. Zoo Med Reptisun 10.0 is the top recommended light as are the Megaray MVB, and the T-Rex Active UV MVB.