Common Flying Dragon
The common flying lizard has a flattened body which is mottled with a range of colours including brown, grey, green or black. On their underside males are blue and the females are yellow. Their underside is a lighter colour compared to the upper body.
Under the chin is a dewlap. This is a fold of skin which is coloured yellow for males and bluish grey in females. Their ability to ‘fly’ is made possible by the extended ribs which have folds of skin between them. These are extended when in flight.
They measure up to 195mm (7.7in) for males and 212mm (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)
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.
Male 19.5cm (7.7in)
Female 21.2cm (8.4in)
Asia is the native home of the common flying lizard. Here they are found only in Indonesia on the islands of Java or 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.
The common flying dragon is found in tropical, dry open secondary forests and rainforest areas. They need their 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.
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.
The common flying dragon is most noticeable for their 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).
Common flying dragons are active during the day.
Predators and Threats
Common flying dragons are preyed upon by snakes, large birds and monitor lizards.
Humans do not lead to much decline within the population of common flying dragons. The major threat they present is through collection for the pet trade.
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.
By Charles J Sharp - Own work, from Sharp Photography, sharpphotography, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41640710
Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley
Van Arsdale, M. 1999. "Draco volans" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 10,
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#:~:text=Diet%20and%20Predators&text=A%20female%20comes%20to%20the,very%20successful%20in%20their%20habitat.>[Accessed 10 June 2020].
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