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Agumbe Rainforest, Karnataka, India

(Draco volans)

IUCN status : Not evaluated

Most myths have a grain of truth in them, including the myth of winged dragons that can fly. In Asia, there is a small lizard that can fly, called the Flying Dragon. They are sometimes called Draco lizards. Draco means dragon in Latin. Flying Dragons don’t have wings though. They have flaps of skin on either side of their bodies. The flaps spread out to make a sort of glider. Flying Dragons can leap from trees and glide more than 100 feet. They can even turn around and glide back to the same tree! Flying Dragons use this skill to escape from predators or catch food. The skin flaps that give Flying Dragons flight are often brightly colored. They might be yellow, blue, red, spotted or striped. The tail is used as a propeller to move ahead as well as to change directions during flight. Rival male Dracos chase each other through the air.

Flying Dragons are insectivores. They eat ants, termites and other insects. They grow to about 12 inches. Flying dragons have a yellow coloured skin flap under their throats called a dewlap.

Although Dracos usually avoid going to the ground, females still must descend to deposit eggs. The lizard uses her pointed snout to create a small hole in the ground, where she lays about five eggs and then covers the hole with dirt. She remains on the ground for about 24 hours, fiercely guarding the nest, and then returns to the trees and leaves the eggs to their fate.

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