Common Flying Dragon: A strange looking creature

on 10th March 2019

A resident living around the Coronation Road area came across this strange creature in her garden. She sent an e-mail with images to E Anon stating that the “animal in the garden is about 12cm long, with a tail probably 25cm long. Any clue? Looks as though it can bite.”

The creature appears like a sort of lizard, probably a frilled flying lizard LINK.

The images were sent to wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai who replied: “The lizard is confirmed to be a Common Flying Dragon (Draco sumatranus, formerly known as Draco volans). This is the only Draco not confined to the forest and can be found in parks and back-mangrove too. It is common and widespread here.”

According to Baker & Lim (2008), “…the male has a bluish head and a large yellow throat flap. The female has a small, blue mottled throat flap. Diurnal and arboreal, inhabiting trees at forest edges, in parks and gardens, even in the city. Feeds largely on ants and termites. Capable of gliding from tree to tree by extending the patagium at the sides of the body. Widespread and common in Singapore, including offshore islands.”

The lateral extension of the skin, known as patagium, helps it to glide from tree to tree. In this case, as it was confronted on the ground, its only defence was to extend its patagium to appear larger than what it was and gaped its mouth to appear fierce. Generally it does not attack people unless handled.

View the Common Flying Dragon displaying its patagium HERE.

E. Anon & Subaraj Rajathurai
6th March 2019

Baker, N. & K. Lim (eds.). 2008. Wild animals of Singapore: A photographic guide to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. To the person who said that the flying dragon (Draco sumatranus) looks like as though it can bite, I confirm that it does bite if you grab hold of it. But since it is a small lizard, it cannot do much real damage. But the bite hurts.
    They used to be fairly common when there were more old coconut plantations in Singapore as they seemed to prefer living where there was plenty of open space between tall trees.
    They are far less common now, I suppose for two reasons, firstly because our shade trees do not provide much open space for free gliding, and secondly because our NParks has done too good a job of removing decaying trees with lots of insect life on the bark.
    But you can still see them sometimes in abandoned farming areas such as Seletar and Lim Chu Kang.
    In the nature reserves, you are more likely to come across a larger, darker and more slender flying dragon, Draco melanopogon.

  2. The common species found in South India especially along the west coast is Draco dussumieri. This species was fairly common in large gardens in the outskirts of bustling cities like Kozhikode (Calicut) in Kerala where coconut and arecanut palms and other trees were common. But with fragmentation of garden lands and large scale felling of palms and other trees for construction activities they have become very rare nowadays. Once we observed a jungle crow unsuccessfully attempting to predate on a flying dragon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)