Common Flying Dragon: A strange looking creature

posted in: Amphibians-Reptiles | 2

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
Singapore
6th March 2019

Reference:
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.

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2 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    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.

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  2. S DEVASAHAYAM

    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.

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