Flying lizard

Draco volans

SUBFAMILY

Agaminae

TAXONOMY

Draco volans Linnaeus, 1758, Java, Indonesia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

These are slender, long-legged, small lizards with folding ribs that expand to form a winglike structure. At rest, these dermal sails are folded along the body, giving the lizards a slim appearance.

DISTRIBUTION

The species inhabits the Indonesian islands, including Borneo, Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Timor. They also occur in Thailand, western Malaysia, and the Philippines.

HABITAT

Their habitat is open forests and dense rainforests of both lowlands and highlands.

Flying Lizards Habitat

I Moloch horridus I Draco volans I Chlamydosaurus kingii

BEHAVIOR

With their "wings" extended, these long-tailed, lightly built agamids glide gracefully between trees, losing altitude along the way. When gliding, these delicate, slender lizards use their tails to steer and sometimes can travel as far as 55 yd (50 m). Expert hang gliders, they rise up and stall at exactly the right moment to make a gentle landing. Upon landing on an adjacent tree, with the head up, they scamper up the tree, gaining elevation in preparation for their next flight. When on the ground, flying lizards are clumsy and vulnerable to predators.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The species feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Wings of males and females are of different colors, which allows these lizards to identify the sex of another at a distance. Males defend territories, courting females by extending their brightly colored throat dewlap appendages, much like anoles do in the New World. Females lay one to four eggs. Their unusual eggs are elongated and spindle-shaped, with dense calcium carbonate "caps" at each end. The function of the caps has not been studied, but they could be deposits for developing embryos.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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