Nigel Our Frilled Dragon

BY JMDC STAFF

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MEET NIGEL

Nigel is a frilled lizard, also known as a frilled dragon or a frilled-neck lizard. He has a ¾ Australian, ¼ New Guinea heritage.  A year ago, Nigel arrived at Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center as a mere youngster, about ten months old.  Since his arrival here, Nigel has grown several inches and is well on his way to the three feet in length (including his tail) he will reach as an adult. 

DRAGON FAMILY

Nigel belongs to the dragon family. No, not the dragons of myths and fairy tales. He belongs to a family of lizards known as dragons because of their perceived similarities to the dragons of lore.

All lizards in this group have sharp, chisel-shaped teeth that are fixed to the jaw. Some dragon lizards may have spines, crests, or, like Nigel, flaps on the head or back.  The dragon lizards category also includes the Komodo dragon and the bearded dragon, putting Nigel in with some pretty impressive company.  

WHERE DO FRILLED DRAGON’S GET THEIR NAME?

The frilled dragon gets its name from the ruff of skin it keeps folded behind its head. When frightened, this lizard stands on its hind legs, opens its mouth wide, and ruffles out a colorful scaly red and yellow frill to intimidate its attacker by making the lizard appear much larger and scarier than it actually is.

THE FRILL

The frill is a large, colorful, circular membrane of skin that projects both upwards and outwards from the lizard’s neck. It is supported by spines connected to the lizard’s jawbones and can only be erected while the lizard is opening its mouth.

The frill can be up to 12 inches in diameter when it is fully erect. In addition to displaying its frill, the lizard will also stand up on two legs with its mouth wide and let out a loud hiss to try and frighten its predators away.

When trying to escape potential danger, the frilled lizard will run using only its hind legs.  At JMDC, Nigel rarely extends the frill around its neck, although we occasionally get the opportunity to see it when he is stretching.

THEIR ENVIRONMENT

Frilled dragons prefer a warm, almost hot, and humid environment.  They are native to the tropical parts of northern Australia and southern New Guinea, where they inhabit forests and woodlands with lots of trees.

Frilled dragons are active during the day. They love the warmth of the sun and enjoy basking during morning hours and in the early afternoon.

We keep the temperature and humidity in Nigel’s enclosure at levels similar to those he would be enjoying in nature.  Nigel spends much of his morning on a tree branch, basking in the warmth of a heat lamp.

PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM PREDATORS

Nigel, like all frilled dragons, is arboreal. In the wild, a frilled dragon will spend up to 90% of its time in trees.

A frilled dragon has grey and brown scaly skin with patterns similar to tree bark which helps it easily blend with the surrounding environment and makes it very difficult for predators to see.

Frilled dragons spend much of their time-pressed flat against the trunk of trees watching for predators and looking for food.

ON THE HUNT

Frilled dragons are ambush predators meaning they hunt by lying in wait for prey to pass close by and then pounce on their victims. They eat a variety of insects such as spiders, beetles, termites, cicadas, and ants. They have also been known to make a meal of smaller lizards and mammals.

They prefer to hunt for food within the trees’ safety where they can remain hidden from predators. However, the food search will, at times, force them to venture out of the trees and onto the ground where they are more exposed.

WHEN FRILLED DRAGONS FEEL THREATENED

If the lizard finds itself in a position where it feels threatened, its first instinct is to run toward the nearest tree or lie motionless. But if neither seems like an option, the lizard fights back, utilizing the frill for which he is recognized and named. Nigel does not need to hunt for his food but is instead offered a daily meal of super worms and crickets with the occasional cockroach.

NIGEL’S FAVORITE MEAL

To be honest, Nigel’s favorite meal is a squishy hornworm.  Nigel gets water by drinking water droplets that have been collected on the leaves in his enclosure, similar to how he would hydrate in nature.

BREEDING

Frilled dragons are territorial and prefer to live alone except during mating season.  Breeding takes place during the wet season, usually between October and March. While mating, males will fight one another and use their frill to impress a female. After mating has occurred, the female will lay anywhere between four to thirteen eggs, with the average size of a clutch being eight.

WHAT DECIDES THE SEX?

Nests are located in flat areas with sandy soil and little grass or leaf litter and no vegetation directly over the nest.  This allows the nest to receive sunlight for most of the day. The sun incubates the eggs, and it usually takes several months for them to hatch, depending on the temperature.

The incubation temperature decides the sex of a frilled dragon’s offspring during a specific temperature-sensitive period of the egg’s development.  Warmer temperatures will produce more females, while cooler temperatures result in an equal number of male and female offspring.  Newly hatched frilled dragons have full use of their frill and can survive on their own without help from the mother.

BORN FAMOUS

As you might imagine, as an Australian native, the frilled dragon is quite popular in that region, with its image being incorporated into the culture. For example, the Australian 2-cent coin featured a frilled dragon on its reverse side up until 1991.  Also, a frilled dragon named “Lizzie” was the mascot for the 2000 Paralympic Games held in Australia.

ON THE BIG SCREEN

The frilled dragon has also had some success on the big screen.  Its unique appearance and behavior make it a fun addition to movies. You can see a frilled dragon named Frank in the Disney film The Rescuers Down Under.

In the original Jurassic Park movie, the dinosaur Dilophosaurus was loosely modeled after the frilled dragon with a similar neck frill which is raised while it was attacking. However, it is important to note that frilled dragons are neither venomous nor do they spit like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

GOOD PETS

Frilled dragons can make good pets with proper care. And Nigel is living proof.  While he was timid when we first acquired him, our JMDC critter handlers are working with him so that he is comfortable coming out of his enclosure to greet visitors and for future educational programs.  He has a tree branch to bask on and all the worms and crickets he desires.  Nigel can survive up to 20 years in captivity, so we look forward to having him here at JMDC for many years to come.

Three Toed Box Turtle

Baby is one of our original Critter Corner Ambassadors.  She has visited with hundreds of school children during the years she has called JMDC home.  Baby came to us as a donation from a family that was no longer able to keep her.  Baby is very friendly and looks forward to her daily tasty worm snack.

The three-toed box turtle is native to south-central United States, from Missouri and Oklahoma south to Alabama and west into Texas. This turtle needs to live near water and prefers a combination of wooded and grassy habitat.  Populations of all 6 subspecies of Terrapene carolina, including the three-toed box turtle, are in decline. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, the world’s leading conservation organization. The main causes of decline are habitat destruction.

If you sponsor Baby, your donation will help pay for her food and care.

Just $5.00 per month or $60.00 per year will contribute to Baby’s food and upkeep.

Package #6 – Adventures in Adobe

Who doesn’t like to play in the mud?  An Adventures in Adobe party is the perfect combination of education and fun.  Party Explorers will hear stories about life during the Mission period in California.  Then be prepared to get dirty.  Party Explorers will take off their shoes, roll up their pants legs, and stomp in the adobe mud until it is perfect brick consistency.  Everyone makes a brick to take home.

JMDC Family Membership – $120.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $180.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Dinosaur Dig

Our Dinosaur Dig site is fun for budding paleontologists of all ages! This Expedition introduces Explorers to the world of paleontology through a hands-on dig experience.  Explorers take a walking tour of our dinosaur sculptures, and then help unearth an Allosaurus fossil, replicating an actual dig.  

Cost – $10.00 per person. 

Meets CA Next Generation Science Standards – 3LS4.A; 3LS4.C; 4ESS1.C;

Fossils through Time

Discover facts about fossils and the geological timeline. 

Explorers examine fossils close up and take home a fossil of their own. 

Cost – $12.50 per person.

Meets CA Next Generation Science Standards – 3LS4.A; 3LS4.C; 4ESS1.C; MS8ESS1.C; MS8LS4.A   

 

Package #1 – Party with the Dinosaurs

The perfect party for the Rockhounder in your life. Through hands-on participation, Explorers learn identifying factors for some of the rocks and minerals we use every day.  A walk through the gardens follow, with stops along the way at the JMDC dinosaurs.  Your party Expedition Leader will share interesting dinosaur facts.  Once your group reaches Dino Mesa, Birthday Explorers are set loose in our collection area where twelve treasures of their choice can be added to an egg carton to take home.

JMDC Family Membership – $120.00 for 10 children and 30 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $180.00 for up to 10 children and 25 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Package #2 – Diggin’ the Dinosaurs

A party for the future paleontologist or dinosaur enthusiast.  Party Explorers will hike through the gardens where they will learn about the dinosaurs from their knowledgeable Expedition Leader.  Upon arrival at the dig site, Explorers will learn the proper technique for excavating a fossil, and then try their hand at uncovering a mock Allosaurus skeleton.

JMDC Family Membership – $120.00 for 10 children and 30 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $180.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Package #3 – Strike it Rich! Gold Panning

Return to the days of early California with this wild west birthday adventure.  Participants will travel back to the Gold Rush Days of California.  Hear stories about the gold rush, learn panning techniques, then strike out to find some gold.  Keep the gems and minerals you discover.

JMDC Family Membership – $150.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $13.50 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Cost (Non-Members)- $210.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $13.50 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Package #4 – Storytelling with Pictographs

A party experience for creative folks of any age.  Party Explorers will experience the art of storytelling using pictures rather than words.  They will grind minerals into paint and, after a little practice, paint their story on wooden shingle using a yucca brush.

JMDC Family Membership – $130.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $11.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $190.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $11.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Package #5 – Paint a Dinosaur

This art oriented party is an excellent choice for children and adults alike.  Explorers can choose from a variety of premade dinosaur (or another ceramic figure) to paint, limited only by the imagination.  Our professional ceramics instructor will be there to offer tips and teach new painting techniques.  Each Party Explorer will take home a hand crafted work of art.  This package includes ceramic figure, paint and brushes.

JMDC Family Membership – $150.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $15.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $210.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $15.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

 

Package #7 – Fossils Through Time

This party is designed for the celebrant who loves fossils.  Your party leader will take Explorers through the fossil time line.  Explorers will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with all types of fossils.  Conclude the fossil experience by polishing an ammonite to take home.

JMDC Family Membership – $150.00 for 10 children and 30 adults.  $13.50 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Cost (Non-Members) – $210.00 for up to 10 children and 25 adults.  $13.50 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Panther Chameleon

Rango has been part of the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center Critter family for the past year.  His vibrant colors and his tong like feet which allow him to grip tight to narrow branches make him a favorite with Critter Corner visitors.

Panther Chameleons are native to Madagascar.  They live in tropical forests and bushes. Panther chameleons have very long tongues (sometimes longer than their own body length) which they are capable of rapidly extending out of the mouth.   At the tip of this elastic tongue, a muscular, club-like structure covered in thick mucus forms a suction cup. Once the tip sticks to a prey item, it is drawn quickly back into the chameleon’s mouth.

If you sponsor Rango, your donation will help to pay for his food and care.

Just $10.00 per month or $120.00 per year will contribute to Rango’s food and upkeep.

Package #8 – The Roswell Archaeology Experience

This is archaeology at a new level.  Excavate fossils and artifacts that may have been left by visitors from other planets.  You never know what you may find when exploring at JMDC. 

JMDC Family Membership – $120.00 for 10 children and 30 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$3.00 for each additional adult. 

Non-Members – $180.00 for 10 children and 25 adults.  $10.00 for each additional child/$5.00 for each additional adult. 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

 

Package #9 – Create Your Own Birthday Party Experience

JMDC Staff will work with you to create a one-of-a-kind birthday experience.  Bring your big ideas and we’ll see what we can do!  

JMDC Family Membership – Price is quoted based on your imagination. 

Looking to make your party even more special? 

Choose from our many available add-ons. 

Upgrade to deluxe surprise bags – $2.00 per bag 

Dippin’ Dots – $3.50 per person 

Paint a ceramic dinosaur – $7.00 per person 

Meet the Critters – $2.00 per person 

Add a second package – Save 30% on the lesser priced package 

Want more time for your party – Add an extra hour in the birthday area – $35.00 per hour 

Volunteer Requirements

  • Enjoy people and interacting with others
  • Completed training and demonstrated comprehension of information and techniques
  • Have an interest in nature, or the willingness to learn
  • Have an open mind that is ready to learn and experience new things
  • Be willing to represent Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center in a friendly and professional manner
  • Be able to communicate clearly and calmly
  • Be responsible, committed, punctual, flexible and neat in appearance
  • Have free time to devote to the position

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches can be found in tropical forests, near river banks, and around trees and logs. Their geographic range in limited to Madagascar.

In the wild, cockroaches consume various plant and animal matter. At Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center, we feed them greens, fruits, and vegetables.

Cockroaches can live from 2 – 5 years.

If you sponsor me and my family, your donation will pay for my food and care.

Just $5.00 per month or $60.00 per year will feed a family of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for one year.

Volunteer Application

Frilled lizard

Nigel is a hybrid ¾ New Guinea ¼ Australian Frilled Lizard; and the newest member of the Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center Critter family.  As a yearling, Nigel is still small.  When he is full grown, he will be about 24” long.  Nigel is an insectivore.  We feed him a diet of super worms, cockroaches, and crickets. 

Frilled lizards have a unique mode of defense.  When they are frightened, opens its pink or yellow mouth, and stands up on two back legs. It then pops up the large piece of colorful thin, extra skin surrounding its neck, like an umbrella. 

If you sponsor Nigel, your donation will help pay for his food and care.

Just $10.00 per month or $100.00 per year will contribute to Nigel’s food and care.

Motley Marble Golden Child Reticulated Python

Toby, is nearly two years old, and has called Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center home for the past year.  During his time here, Toby has grown from a mere 5-foot yearling to nearly 7 feet long.  When he is full grown, he can reach anywhere from 12 – 14 feet in length.   

Reticulated pythons are native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.  In their natural habitat a reticulated python will eat birds and mammals.  At Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center, Toby eats large rats.

If you sponsor Toby, your donation will help pay for his food and care. 

Just $20.00 per month or $240.00 per year will contribute to Toby’s food and upkeep.

Green Iguana

Zilla, our Green Iguana, came to live at Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center over three years ago when the family with whom she was living could no longer care for her.  She is one of our original Critter Corner residents.  Zilla loves to have her head scratched, and one of her favorite treats is blueberries.

The green iguana is native to South America and some portions of central and North America where it typically lives high up in trees in the rainforest. The iguana is mostly an herbivore, meaning that it likes to eat plants including leaves and fruit.  An interesting feature of green iguanas is their third eye. This is an extra eye on top of their head called a parietal eye. This eye is not quite like a normal eye, but it can help iguanas detect the movement of a predator sneaking up on them from above.

If you sponsor Zilla, your donation will help pay for her food and care.

Just $20.00 per month or $240.00 per year will contribute to Zilla’s food and upkeep.

California Rockhound

This expedition offers an excellent opportunity for Explorers to become familiar with the rock cycle.  Covered topics included rock formation from magma (igneous rocks), water and wind erosion (sedimentary rocks), and heat and pressure (metamorphic rocks). Also included is a discussion about the importance of rocks and minerals as a natural resource. Each Explorer receives a set of eight rocks and eight minerals to take home. 

Cost – $12.50 per person.

Meets CA Next Generation Science Standards – 2ESS1.C; 2ESS2.A; 2ESS2.C; 4ESS1.C; 4ESS2.A; 4ESS3.A; 4ESS3.B; 7ESS3.A;

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