Frilled Dragon Temperament | Are Frilled Dragons Friendly?

Are frilled dragons friendly?

Frilled Dragons are a favorite pet among reptile enthusiasts around the world because of their unique frilled necks, which they use to chase off predators. They make for an interesting and lively pet, but if you’ve never encountered one before, you’re probably wondering about the temperament of a frilled dragon. Are frilled dragons friendly? 

Frilled Dragons are not the friendliest of lizards. They are not usually aggressive unless they are very stressed or scared. However, most Frilled Dragons do not enjoy being handled, especially when they are still getting used to their owner. They are more likely to run away than to bite, but this depends on the individual temperament of each lizard.

People are often intimidated by the look of frilled dragons after they see a picture with its frills out. They look like a miniature version of one of the dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park movies. They certainly do not look like the friendliest of lizards. That said, the frills are mostly just a defense mechanism to ward off predators. So they are not necessarily aggressive but they are not the best choice if you want a lizard that enjoys frequent handling.

If however, you are not as concerned about frequent handling then frilled dragons might be the right choice for you. After all, frilled dragons are awesome looking and can be quite entertaining in their enclosure.

If you aren’t sure if a Frilled Dragon is the right choice for you, continue reading. By the end of this article, you’ll know how friendly Frilled Dragons are, how to handle them, and how to tell if they are stressed.

Are Frilled Dragons Friendly?

We wouldn’t go as far as to say that Frilled Dragons are unfriendly. They are usually happy and relaxed in their enclosures as long as they are taken care of. They are eager for feedings, and they aren’t typically aggressive.  

However, they aren’t really all that friendly either. Their attitude is somewhat cat-like. They’re happy to be left alone most of the time as long as they are fed.

Do Frilled Dragons Like To Be Handled?

Most Frilled Dragons dislike being handled. Trying to hold a Frilled Dragon on your lap for any length of time is likely to result in a missing lizard hunt.

Most of the time, if you’re handling Frillies appropriately, they won’t bite you. If you’re holding a Frilled Dragon in an uncomfortable or painful way, you may get nipped.

There are always outliers. Some Frilled Dragons will tolerate handling better than others. Some may bite, and some may enjoy being taken out of their enclosure. That said, your chances are slim. So if you are interested in a lizard that enjoys handling and will chill out on your shoulder, frilled dragons are likely not for you.

Instead, you might look into something like a bearded dragon instead. For more on whether or not a frilled dragon is for you check out my post: Do Frilled Dragons Make Good Pets

How To Handle a Frilled Dragon?

To avoid a painful bite from a Frillie, you need to know how to handle it. You may not be able to remove your Frillie from its enclosure for long periods of time until it is well acquainted with you. 

A Frilled Dragon that is used to being handled will comfortably sit in your hand. Your fingers can gently rest around the body. If the Frilled Dragon tries to run away from you, you can gently hold it by the base of its tail with two fingers. (This is not something you can with any lizard, but for Frillies, it is okay.)

Frillies in the wild spend most of their time in trees, so they prefer to be elevated, and they are likely to seek higher ground. 

There are three important guidelines you should follow when handling a Frilled Dragon:

  1. Keep handling to a minimum when you first bring home your Frilled Dragon. Slowly increase handling as your Frillie gets used to you.
  2. If your Frilled Dragon seems stressed, you should return it to its enclosure as soon as possible. Too much stress is dangerous for any lizard.
  3. Never squeeze a Frilled Dragon. You could hurt it, and it will almost certainly bite you.

How to Tell if a Frilled Dragon is Stressed?

Once you get to know your Frilled Dragon, you learn all its little way of communicating its displeasure with you. Because of their frilled neck, it can be easy to tell when a Frilled Dragon is very stressed out.

Here are the signs that you should put your Frilled Dragon back in its enclosure:

  • Open mouth: If it is just sitting there with its mouth open, it’s stressed. Usually, the frill will begin to puff out or already be puffed out when it does this. 
  • Puffed out frill: Frillies puff out their frill to scare predators in the wild. If it is puffed out while you’re handling it, it means it is scared or stressed.
  • Hissing: Yes, lizards hiss, and you should take it as a warning.
  • Snapping at you: If you’re lucky, a Frilled Dragon will snap at you as a warning before actually biting you. Because they aren’t naturally aggressive, this is a sure sign that your lizard is stressed and may be ready to resort to a real bite soon.
  • Sulking: If a Frillie is just lethargic or not eating, it may be that it is stressed. This can also be a sign of other issues, so you may need a vet visit.

If your Frillie is displaying any of these signs, it is time to put it back in its enclosure where it feels safest. The puffed out frill and back leg walking is a neat feature of the Frilled Dragon, but provoking a Frillie into doing this stresses it out, and it isn’t good for its overall health. You should never purposely stress your pet out.

It is worth noting that handling is not the only thing that can cause stress. Subpar enclosure conditions like not enough humidity or the incorrect light bulb can also stress a frilled dragon out. In this case, the Frilled Dragon is more likely to stop eating or become “sulky” because the stress is chronic.

Are Frilled Dragons Good for Beginners?

The Frilled Dragon is an undeniably cool pet, but it isn’t the most beginner-friendly lizard. Here’s why:

  • The Frilled Dragon requires special care. Because of its size and its nature, its enclosure should be big and tall. It requires misting and more expensive lights compared to other lizards. 
  • Frillies also eat a LOT of insects. You may even need to feed a Frilled Dragon twice a day.
  • Frilled Dragons don’t enjoy being handled. And of course, if this is your first lizard, you want to handle it! It’s completely understandable.

If you have your heart set on a Frilled Dragon, then you shouldn’t let these things stop you. Just make sure you do plenty of research and learn from the experts on how to care for and handle your new pet.

Is the Frilled Dragon Friendly Enough For Kids?

The Frilled Dragon isn’t the most kid-friendly lizard for the same reasons it isn’t beginner-friendly. But only you know how mature your child is and if they can be careful about handling a Frilled Dragon. If the Frilled Dragon is an adult’s pet, then it should be kept away from young children as much as possible.

If you’re looking for your pet for your child, it may not be the best option. However, a budding herpetologist may be more willing to give a Frilled Dragon the space it needs and would surely love caring for it. 

Frilled Dragon Vs. Bearded Dragon Temperament

Bearded Dragons are far more beginner-friendly than Frilled Dragons. They still have special (and sometimes strict) care requirements, but they are much friendlier, and bearded dragons generally tolerate handling well. They are less likely to run away or become stressed from handling.

However, you have to remember that every lizard is different. There are plenty of temperamental Beardie’s out there. Most can be tamed out of the worst of their grumpiness, but certainly not all. This is more likely to happen if a Beardie was mistreated, is not cared for properly, or is ill. If possible, it is best to meet your future pet before bringing it home.

How Friendly are Frilled Dragons?

Frilled Dragons don’t enjoy handling, but they aren’t likely to become aggressive and bite you as long as you’re handling them appropriately. So when it comes down to it, they aren’t really all that friendly, but they aren’t bullies either.

With time most Frilled Dragons grow accustomed to their owner. They still may not enjoy handling, but they will tolerate it while their enclosure is being cleaned or for short periods of time. 

If you’re looking for a friendly lizard that enjoys hanging out, then we say stick to the Bearded Dragon. For more on the frilled dragon check out my Complete Frilled Dragon Care Sheet


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