Frilled dragons are a popular option when it comes to reptiles. This is mostly due to the fact that these lizards are awesome looking. They share many characteristics with bearded dragons while sporting an interesting and more exotic look than the typical bearded dragon. But do frilled dragons make good pets?
Frilled dragons make good pets for the right owner. They’re docile, easy to care for, and very fun to observe. However, they don’t do particularly well when they’re being handled. If you want a pet you can hold and pass around, a frilled dragon is not the pet for you.
Getting a frilled dragon is no small undertaking. You’ll need to know how to house them properly, how to identify stress, and what you should do before and after you handle them.
In the end, you may realize that a frilled dragon isn’t your speed. Luckily, there are other options.
Are Frilled Dragons Good Pets For First-Time Reptile Owners?
Frilled dragons are generally good ok for beginners. They’re relatively docile, their diets are easy to manage, and they don’t require a ton of human attention. However, there are a few things to know before deciding to bring a frilled dragon home for good.
The main downside for many is that they are not the best lizards for handling. Honestly, this is more of a matter of preference than anything.
I would not classify them as easy reptiles to care for or hard reptiles to care for. They are probably at a medium level of difficulty.
If you have never owned a reptile there are certainly easier options. A good example would be a bearded dragon or a leopard gecko. As far as appearance goes the bearded dragon shares more physical characteristics with the frilled dragon.
That being said, a frilled dragon might still be the right pet for you even if you are a beginner. Just do your research first to figure out if they are the right fit.
After all, they are amazing-looking lizards that can make great pets for someone who wants to observe more often than handle their reptile.
Frilled Dragon Temperament
Frilled dragons are easygoing and easy to please as long as you give them their space. They thrive in a well-decorated tank with lots to climb on and things to keep them busy.
You can’t train a frilled dragon to do tricks or anything, but they’re naturally entertaining regardless.
Are Frilled Dragons Aggressive?
Like any tank-dwelling animal, they can become tank-aggressive: when you put your hand in their tank, they may associate your hand with being a food source.
But this doesn’t mean they necessarily feel threatened by you, and it’s completely normal.
If your animal is tank-aggressive, you’ll figure it out fast when you narrowly avoid being bitten. You can help prevent tank-aggression, though.
If you notice the beginning signs of tank aggression, try taking them out of the tank to eat. While they don’t love the handling, taking them in and out of the tank to eat won’t hurt them.
Luckily for frilled dragon owners, it’s easy to tell if your dragon is upset. They have massive frills on their head. In captivity, the frills don’t come out very often since they don’t have anything to defend themselves against.
If your dragon puffs out its frills when you try to touch it, it’s best to leave it alone until it calms down for your safety and for its safety, too.
Frilled Dragons Are Not The Best Pet For Frequent Handling
Frilled dragons do not love being handled, but there are times when you must handle them. Luckily, there are some things you can do to “tame” your dragon so that it responds better to your touch:
- Start handling it as young as possible. If your dragon feels comfortable with you when they are young, it will stay comfortable.
- Offer an incentive. You can give them a little treat to get them to come closer; they go crazy for blueberries. Feeding them something out of your hand can help build trust.
- Put your hand in the tank. Put your hand in the tank, and don’t touch the animal. Let them get used to your scent and touch you first if they would like to.
- Get the dragon out of your hands. Pick them up and put them on your shirt, lap, or shoulder. Your hands may be causing them to feel unstable.
- Pet them often. Frilled dragons love nose rubs. Before you scoop them up, love on them for a minute to gain their trust.
Housing Requirements For Frilled Dragons
A huge part of whether a frilled dragon is a good pet for you is their tank requirements. With a basking reptile like a frilled dragon, you not only need the proper tank, but you also need the correct lighting.
These can get pretty costly, especially since you will need to pay for replacements on the fly if the enclosure cracks or a light goes out. Of course, this is true for just about any pet lizard species with only a few exceptions.
For their tank, the size depends on the number of lizards you want to have in one enclosure. Frilled dragons can be kept together as long as all parties are female. Males will fight for dominance, which could result in injuries or even death. You could theoretically keep a male and a female together, but you may end up with some frilled babies.
The minimum tank size for one frilled dragon is 4-6 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and 5 feet long. Each dragon in your tank needs adequate space to roam in. So, two frilled dragons would require an even larger tank. They would also need separate basking spaces to ensure that they don’t have to fight for the heat.
These lizards like to climb, so you have the choice of either a traditional horizontal tank or a vertical one for maximum climbing. Frilled dragons enjoy climbing so it is highly recommended that you go with an enclosure with some height.
Some of the vertical enclosures come with screened fronts instead of glass fronts. This would make it difficult to keep the proper humidity and temperatures for a frilled dragon. Make sure to get glass instead.
Honestly, there is a good chance that you might have to get a custom-built enclosure for a frilled dragon. These are all considerations you need to ask yourself before you choose a frilled dragon as a pet.
Your frilled dragon will need a minimum of two lights: a tube UVB bulb and a heat bulb for basking. Depending on the temperature of your home, you may also want to get them a ceramic heat emitter for nighttime, so their tank doesn’t get too cold.
The bulbs you get will depend on the kind of tank you have and the kind of setup you’re planning. Their tube UVB light should stretch across roughly 2/3rds of their tank.
You’ll want at least a 10.0 UVB bulb because anything less will not emit enough UVB for them as they bask. Insufficient amounts of UVB can lead to metabolic bone disease (MBD).
Frilled dragons need a basking temperature of between 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. The bulb should point directly to a designated basking area.
The ambient tank temperature should range from 115 down to around 75 as you reach the outskirts of the enclosure. By providing multiple temperatures, you allow them to cool off if they become overheated.
Frilled dragons need a substrate that holds humidity well. If you have a baby dragon, you might want to put a newspaper or paper towel down just to make sure they don’t eat the substrate and become impacted. However, as they grow older, you can replace that with other looser substrates like coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, or soil. When using soil, it needs to be organic to avoid any fertilizers or pesticides.
Similar Lizards That Make Good Pets
Maybe a frilled dragon isn’t the best choice for you, but you still want a reptile as a pet. You have other options that may work better, especially if you want an animal you can hold. Don’t get me wrong, it is hard to find a cooler-looking lizard than the frilled dragon, but they are not the best for handling.
Bearded dragons are similar to frilled dragons in terms of basic care. The only differences are mostly in your favor, as bearded dragons are likely an easier choice. They don’t need to climb as much, and they do not require as much space.
Bearded dragons are also less temperamental with handling. They love to sit on your shoulder, your lap, or even the couch next to you if your nerves can handle it. Bearded dragons can also be put on leashes if you decide to take them outside.
Water dragons are different in terms of care, but their temperament is on par with a bearded dragon. They like to be held, and they like to hang out with you while you go about your day.
However, if you choose an Australian or a Chinese water dragon, be cautious of salmonella and always wash your hands after handling them. Bearded and frilled dragons also carry salmonella, but only in their feces.
Is The Frilled Dragon The Right Pet For You?
So are frilled dragons good pets? Frilled dragons can make good pets if you don’t think you’ll need to handle them often. They’re easy to care for and can be both entertaining and educational for a child to observe as you care for them.
However, if you’d like a more hands-on pet, then you might want to consider getting a less temperamental reptile, such as a bearded dragon.
For more on the frilled dragon check out my complete Frilled Dragon Care Guide Here!