Did that lizard just fly by? Literally?

Is it a bird? … Is it a plane? … No! … It is a … flying lizard?!?

You read that correctly – a flying lizard!

Draco volans is a species of gliding agamid lizard native to Southeast Asia. These particular lizards are rather well-known for their unusual ability to “fly/glide” over a rather impressive distance!

In my research, I uncovered that a glide of just 200 feet was once recorded! Wow! And if you think it was a straight drop to the ground you are mistaken! In fact during that “flight,” the lizard only lost approximately 30 feet in height!

Pretty impressive for a lizard that only grows to about 1 foot in length!

So how exactly does a lizard … with four legs and a tail … take flight? I was curious about same the thing and I uncovered something very interesting about the physical characteristics of these flying lizards!

In order to move from one place to another, these lizards will spread the skin flaps found along their abdomens (much like a wing), flatten their limbs and then gracefully glide out of trees or from other high areas. They even have a small set of flaps on their necks that actually serve a horizontal stabilizer while in flight!

As you can imagine, they never glide when it is raining or when it is windy. That surely would be a recipe for disaster!

Now you might be wondering if this lizard ever makes it way to jungle floor? Why crawl around on the ground when you can move from tree to tree (almost sounds like Tarzan)?

In fact, the only time they will venture down to the ground is when a female is ready to lay her clutch of eggs. Once the clutch of about 2 to 5 eggs are laid, she will guard it for another 24 hours and then guess what kiddies … you’re on your own!  Very different from the nurturing technique found in crocodiles!

But these “wings” are not only used for flying!

Extending the wings and dewlap makes the the lizard actually appear considerably larger to any potential predator … and believe me, this lizard does not hesitate to show off when he feels threatened!

And now for some good new according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Draco volans is neither Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), or Vulnerable (VU)!

Hopefully this amazing lizard will live on to fly for many, many more years!

By Candace, SaveTheReptiles.com


About Candace M Hansen

Wildlife advocate, conservationist and environmentalist.
This entry was posted in Featured Articles, Lizards and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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