Draco volans

Draco volans

Last updated: September 12, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Beneath the lizard’s “wings” are a pair of enlarged ribs for support.

Draco volans Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Draco volans

Draco volans Conservation Status

Draco volans Locations

Draco volans Locations

Draco volans Facts

Insects, especially ants and termites
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Beneath the lizard’s “wings” are a pair of enlarged ribs for support.
Estimated Population Size
Unknown but conservation status is Least Concern.
Biggest Threat
Predators such as birds of prey, larger reptiles, pet trade
Most Distinctive Feature
Its “wings,” a patagium spread supported by ribs
Other Name(s)
Flying lizard, gliding lizard
Gestation Period
Eggs hatch in 32 days
Litter Size
Second growth forest
Birds of prey, larger lizards, tree snakes
Common Name
Common flying dragon
Southeast Asia, south India, Philippines

Draco volans Physical Characteristics

  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Tan
Skin Type
Top Speed
17 mph
Eight years
0.73 ounces
7.7 to 8.7 inches, females larger
Age of Sexual Maturity

Draco volans Images

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Draco volans is known as “The Gliding Lizard ”

Though volans means “flying,” Draco volans doesn’t really fly but glides. It uses patagia, a membrane that covers its ribs to glide from place to place. It is found in rainforests where it can jump easily from one tree to another. Some people keep these little lizards as a pet, though they are tricky to care for, especially for a beginner. Flying lizards are skittish and need a huge enclosure full of vegetation and even small trees. Indeed, there are places where it is illegal to own one of these skittish lizards. Even zoos find it challenging to take proper care of a flying lizard.

Four Incredible Draco volans Facts!

Here are four facts about the Draco volans:

  • Besides its beauty and gliding ability, one reason the flying dragon’s population is so robust is that people think it’s venomous and won’t eat it. It’s not venomous at all.
  • The lizard apparently believes in siestas. It’s active between 8 and 11 in the morning then takes a break from 11 to 1 p.m.
  • Draco volans can glide for about 26 feet on average.
  • It is the only gliding animal whose patagium is supported by its ribs. In other animals, the patagium is simply a membrane of skin attached to the limbs.

Draco volans Scientific Name

Draco volans, means “flying dragon” in Latin. There are about 45 other species in the Draco genus. They include:

  • Draco abbreviatus
  • Draco blanfordii
  • Draco boschmai
  • Draco cristatellus
  • Draco dussumieri
  • Draco formosus
  • Draco indochinensis
  • Draco iskandari
  • Draco maximus
  • Draco melanopogon
  • Draco modiglianii
  • Draco ornatus
  • Draco quinquefasciatus
  • Draco reticulatus
  • Draco spilopterus
  • Draco taeniopterus
  • Draco walkeri

Draco volans Appearance

Draco volans is a little reptile, with males being about 7.7 inches long, including their tail, and females about 8 inches long. The weight of the animal is about 0.73 ounces on average, with the weight of the male less than that of the female. The flattened, slender body is notable for the large “wings” that are supported by sets of elongated ribs and used for gliding. Besides these wings or patagia, both males and females have a bit of skin under their head known as a dewlap. The dewlap is used to both guide the animal’s flight and for display. The male’s dewlap is brilliant yellow while the female’s is smaller and a sort of cadet blue.

The patagia are notable because they differentiate Draco volans from other types of flying lizards. They have rows of tiny brown rectangles on the top and black dots on the bottom. The wings of the male are also blue on top and brown beneath, while the tops of the female’s wings are yellow.

A flying dragon (Draco volans) is sunbathing on a vine branch before starting its daily activities.
A flying dragon (Draco volans) is sunbathing on a vine branch before starting its daily activities.

Draco volans Behavior

Draco volans is mostly solitary, and the males are very territorial. They will claim two or three trees and try to see off any other males that trespass. At the same time, the trees are home to a handful of females.

The lizard is active during the day, especially in the morning. Then, it takes a break between 11 a.m. and one in the afternoon. Draco volans probably doesn’t know that these hours are when humans break for lunch or a nap. Their behavior is probably a reaction to the sun being a bit too hot at that time of day.

Male lizards basically spend their entire lives in the trees, while females only leave the trees to lay eggs. It is from their perch on a tree that the lizard can spread out its patagium and glide to another tree. It splays out its limbs, extends its dewlap, and uses its tail to steer. Draco volans glides only to get from one place to another and not to avoid its many predators. To escape predators, the lizard simply climbs quickly out of the way. The lizard also doesn’t glide during bad weather.

A lizard that encounters another of its species will either partially or fully extend its dewlap and wings or bob its entire body up and down. If a male encounters a female, he’ll display and circle around her.

Draco volans Habitat

Draco volans lives in the tropical rain forests of southeast Asia, from southern India to Borneo and the Philippines.

Draco volans Diet

The lizard eats termites and ants.

Draco volans Predators and Threats

As it is a small animal, Draco volans is a meal for a variety of larger animals, including birds and other reptiles. Though it doesn’t appear to glide to escape these predators, it is very fast. Its coloration also allows it to blend in among the branches and leaves of the trees where it lives. It is not hunted by people for food but is sometimes collected for the pet trade.

What eats the Draco volans?

This little lizard is eaten by many larger creatures, including birds, snakes and larger lizards. The lizard still manages to have a lifespan of close to a decade.

What does the Draco volans eat?

In the wild, Draco volans eats ants and termites. Generally, it doesn’t search for these insects but sits on a tree trunk or limb and waits for them to appear. Then, it will simply snap them up.

Draco volans Reproduction and Life Cycle

Though biologists don’t appear to know when Draco volans is sexually mature, they know that the lizards mate in the winter, when the weather is warm but not scorching hot, and the wet monsoon has arrived. The male lizard claims a territory of two or three trees, and these trees also have resident females. The male displays to the female and circles her three times before they mate, but if she’s not interested she will display back at him with her wings and her dewlap.

But if they do mate, she will leave the tree for the ground. She’ll nudge her head into the soil to create a nest, lay five eggs inside of it then cover them up with more soil. She’ll guard the eggs for about 24 hours but no longer. Then, she’ll leave, and the eggs will receive no further care. They hatch in a little over a month. The lizards have a lifespan of about eight years.

Draco volans Population

The IUCN has not evaluated Draco volans, but it is abundant in its habitat and its conservation status is of least concern.

View all 40 animals that start with D

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System, Available here: https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=1055569#null
  2. Amino Apps, Available here: https://aminoapps.com/c/reptiles/page/item/draco-lizard-draco-volans/wKb6_b2MHpIJe7WWL8Xj5xxvePmZkD4w7rj
  3. PetHelpful, Available here: https://pethelpful.com/exotic-pets/Lizards-that-look-like-dragons
  4. Oxford Academic Integrative & Comparative Biology, Available here: https://academic.oup.com/icb/article/51/6/983/616030
  5. Blue Planet Biomes, Available here: https://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/rainforest_climate.php

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