|MacRitchie Nature Trail, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Singapore|
It is a member of the genus of gliding lizards Draco. It can spread out folds of skin attached to its movable ribs to form "wings" that it uses to glide from tree to tree over distances upwards of 8 metres (26 ft); however, like all modern reptiles, it lacks the ability to sustain powered flight, and is capable only of gliding.
Its wings are brightly coloured with orange, red and blue spots and stripes, and they provide camouflage when folded. The flying dragon can reach a total length of up to 23 centimetres (9.1 in). It feeds on arboreal ants and termites.
First classified in 1758, it was involved in a small sensation in 2015 when poor journalism led to reports that it had only very recently been discovered.
The flying dragon does not give live birth. During the breeding season an adult female will venture down to the forest floor and lay 1-5 eggs, which it buries in the soil. The number of eggs usually depends on how good that particular lizard's habitat and surroundings are. A flying dragon's eggs can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to hatch. A flying dragon hatchling will weigh around 2 grams, depending on how good the conditions were while laying the eggs and other factors. The female flying dragon will only guard her nest for at the most a couple of days before abandoning the nest. She does not return very often to care for her young. The flying dragon's life span is currently unknown.
Common Gliding Lizards (D. sumatranus) and Spotted Gliding Lizards (Draco maculatus) are common in open and disturbed areas; Five-banded Gliding Lizards (D. quinquefasciatus) are usually found in dense forest with relatively small, closely spaced trees; Giant Gliding Lizards (D. maximus) are somewhat restricted to riparian areas; the smaller Yellow-bearded Gliding Lizards (D. haematopogon) and larger Blanford's Gliding Lizard (Draco blanfordii) occur at higher elevations than most other species; and the Black-bearded Gliding Lizards and the larger Dusky Gliding Lizards (D. formosus) are habitat generalists in lowland forests.
Flying Dragons are brown with bluish coloration on the undersides of their wings and a yellow colored dewlap. Females tend to have bluish dewlaps and yellow coloring on the wings' undersides. Their heads are blunted and fairly short, and each leg has five clawed toes. Flying Dragons have low, long bodies. They have flaps of skin along the ribs, which can be extended into "wings" by the lizard elongating its ribs. They have a dewlap, or gular flap, which can also be extended. Generally, Flying Dragons grow to a little less than 12 inches in length. Although females are usually larger than males, their dewlaps are a bit smaller.
This lizard can get to about 20 cm long. Its wingspan is usually 3/4 of its body length.
In the wild, the Flying Dragon will generally claim a territory. Usually, males will mark two or three trees as their own, and one to three female Flying Dragons will live in each tree. When the male Flying Dragon meets another animal, he may extend his dewlap partially or fully, extend his wings partially or fully, perform a combination of dewlap or wing extension, or bob his body up and down. If he meets a female, he may circle her. Extending the wings and dewlap makes the Flying Dragon appear larger, and he will usually exhibit such behavior if he feels threatened. Flying Dragons eat insects. They catch such prey by sitting under a tree until an insect passes by, and then they consume it. They have short sticky tongues that they use to eat ants and termites.
In order to move from one place to another, Flying Dragons will spread the skin flaps along their abdomens and glide out of trees or from other high areas. They never glide when it is raining or when it is windy. When the Flying Dragon is about to take off, it will point its head toward the ground.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2012)|
- Boulenger GA. 1885. Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume I. ... Agamidæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 436 pp. + Plates I- XXXII. (Draco volans, p. 256).
- Linnaeus C. 1758. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. Stockholm: L. Salvius. 824 pp. (Draco volans, p. 199).
- Card, Winston C. 1994. Draco Volans Reproduction, Herpetological Review 25(2)
- Michael Van Arsdale - http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Draco_volans