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Common Flying Lizard Fact File

Draco Volans

Credit: By Charles J Sharp – Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41640710

Weight

20.78g

(0.07oz)

Length

19.5-21.2cm

(7.7-8.4in)

Lifespan

Wild 8 years

Captive 8 years

Diet

Insectivore

Ants, Termites

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

A Lizard That Can Take to the Skies!

The common flying lizard is noticeable due to the folds of skin between its arms which allow it to glide between trees. While they can not propel themselves upwards they can travel up to 8m (26ft).

These animals are insectivores and spend their day seeking out ants and termites on which they can feed.

Females display an unusual behavior among most lizards in that they remain near their eggs for a few days after laying and defend them against predators.

They may be threatened by collection for the pet trade.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.

Appearance

What does the Common Flying Lizard look like?

The common flying lizard has a flattened body which is mottled with a range of colors including brown, grey, green or black. On their underside males are blue and the females are yellow. Their underside is a lighter color compared to the upper body.

Under the chin is a dewlap. This is a fold of skin which is colored yellow for males and bluish grey in females. They will extend this as part of displays such as the males courtship display.

Their ability to ‘fly’ is made possible by the extended ribs which have folds of skin between them. These are extended when in flight. These extensions are known as the patagia.

All species of flying lizard in the genus, Draco have patagia but each has a unique pattern. This species can be identified using the rows of small brown rectangles present on the patagia.

They measure up to 19.5cm (7.7in) for males and 21.2cm (8.4in) for females. This includes the tail which makes up over half of their length. They weigh an average of 20.78g (0.7oz).

Adaptations

How does the Common Flying Lizard survive in its habitat?


Their ability to glide is an adaptation which allows them to flee predators.

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Diet

What does the Common Flying Lizard eat?

Common flying lizards are insectivores. They feed primarily on ants and termites.

To catch food they will stay still in one spot and wait for the ant or termite to climb past close enough that it can be picked up without moving their mouth.

Learn more about Common Flying Lizards in this video from BBC Earth on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Common Flying Lizard?

Asia is the native home of the common flying lizard. Here they are found only in Indonesia on the islands of Java and Bali.

While the name Draco Volans was previously applied to a wide group of flying lizards it is now only used for the Indonesian population and the rest of their range is occupied by two newly created species.

Habitat

Where can the Common Flying Lizard survive?

The common flying dragon is found in tropical, dry open secondary forests and rainforest areas. They need there to be a high enough density of trees in their environment to allow them to jump from tree to tree without coming to the ground.

Common Flying Lizard (Draco volans)

Credit: Public Domain

Reproduction

How does the Common Flying Lizard produce its young?

Their mating season has not been studied but some evidence points to it occurring during December and January.

Mating takes place in the trees. Males will claim two to three trees as their own and then defend these against other males by flashing their dewlap at them. When a female approaches the male he will display for her also using the dewlap. If the female does not wish to mate she will display back at the male.

Following a successful mating the female will return to the ground. Here she uses her pointed nose to dig a hole in the ground. In to this she will deposit up to 5 eggs. The hole Is then filled with soil.

Females remain near the nest site for up to 24 hours and will defend it against predators which may attempt to steal the eggs.

Once she has finished this period she leaves and the eggs are left alone till hatching. Incubation lasts for 32 days. After hatching the juvenile common flying dragons receive no parental care.

Sexual maturity is reached by one year old.

Behavior

What does the Common Flying Lizard do during its day?

The common flying dragon is most noticeable for its ability to move through the forest using their ‘wings’, the scientific name for these is "patagia.” These stretch from behind the front leg to just before the front leg and are attached to the ribs and extend when the dragon wants to ‘fly.’

They use their wings to glide between trees. By being able to glide they are able to avoid going to the ground which enable them to avoid many predators. A single glide can carry them up to 8m (26ft).

Females only come to the ground to lay their eggs while males may never return to the ground after they have hatched.

Common flying dragons are active during the day.

Common Flying Lizard (Draco volans)

Credit: A.Baihaqi, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Common Flying Lizard from surviving and thriving?

Common flying dragons are preyed upon by snakes, large birds and monitor lizards.

This species is considered common across its range but a full study of their population is yet to be completed.

Small numbers may be collected for the pet trade but this does not appear to be presenting a significant threat. Almost all flying lizards advertised for sale are listed under their scientific name but may be from other areas making the full extent of the issue hard to track.

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Quick facts

Common flying dragons are one of 40 species of flying dragons or draco lizards.

Their scientific name ‘draco’ comes from the Latin word for dragon.

References

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.

Van Arsdale, M. 1999. "Draco volans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 10, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Draco_volans/

Quah, E., Grismer, L. & McGuire, J. 2018. Draco volans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T99929352A99929358. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T99929352A99929358.en. Downloaded on 10 June 2020.

Baker, N. 2020, “common flying lizard,” (On-line), Ecology of Asia, Accesed June 10 at https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/lizards/common_gliding_lizard.htm

Crapmton, L., 2019. Draco Lizards And Flying Dragons: Strange Reptiles. [online] Owlcation. Available

at: <https://owlcation.com/stem/Draco-Lizards-or-Flying-Dragons-Strange-Rainforest-Reptiles>[Accessed 10 June 2020].

Crew, B., 2022. Flying dragon lizard a true gliding reptile. [online] Australian Geographic. Available at: <https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/creatura-blog/2014/05/dragon-lizard-draco-volans/> [Accessed 1 January 2022].

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