Added 4 April 2007. Last updated 16 June 2022: updated Introduction and Bibliography, added D. abbreviatus , D. beccarii, D. boschmai, D. formosus, D. indochinensis, D. iskandari, D. spilonotus, D. sumatranus, D. supriatnai, D. timoriensis and D. walkeri, and updated D. affinis, D. blanfordi, D. cornutus, D. cristatellus, D. fimbriatus, and D. volans.

A look at the Family Agamidae


Flying Lizards


Many people will have heard of flying lizards: this is the genus most commonly referred to as such. In fact Draco species do not have the capability of true flight, but instead use their foldable wings (formed by movable ribs with a membrane of skin stretched between them) to glide from one tree to another.

These are small lizards, being usually no more than 9-10 cm snout-vent length, with the tail being roughly the same again. Boulenger gives the characteristics of the genus as follow: body depressed, with a large lateral wing-like membrane, supported by the a much-produced five or six posterior ribs, folding like a fan.; a gular appendage, and a lateral smaller one on each side; tympanum distinct or covered with scales; tail long; no femoral or preanal pores. The shape and colour of the gular sac can be helpful in identification of the individual species. Overall coloration varies not only between species but between the sexes. Manthey and Schuster caution that some of the descriptions given are contradictory and that some Draco species are quite difficult to identify.

Given their small size, coloration and fascinating body structure, one might think these might be lizards in demand as pets. Unfortunately their apparent desirability is completely nullified by their diet, which consists almost wholly of ants and termites, both of which they consume in large numbers. As with other formivorous (ant-eating) species, this makes their satisfactory captivity very difficult, especially as neither ants nor termites are desirable commensals in a human dwelling. Even zoos find these lizards hard, if not impossible, to maintain. If you want a flying lizard, one of the Ptychozoon geckos is by far easier.

Most people will never see Draco in captivity, but such is their range in SE Asia that they may well be encountered in the wild.


D. abbreviatus

D. affinis, Bartlett's Flying Dragon

D. beccarii

D. biaro, Lazell's Flying Dragon

D. bimaculatus

D. blanfordi, Blanford's Flying Lizard

D. boschmai

D. caerulhians

D. cornutus

D. cristatellus, Crested Flying Lizard

D. cyanopterus

D. dussumieri, Western Ghats Flying Lizard

D. fimbriatus

D. guentheri

D. haematopogon, Red-Barbed Flying Dragon

D. indochinensis

D. iskanderi

D. jareckii

D. lineatus, Lined Flying Dragon

D. maculatus, Spotted Flying Dragon

D. maximus, Great Flying Dragon

D. melanopogon, Black-Barbed Flying Dragon

D. mindanensis

D. modigliani

D. norvilli

D. obscurus, Dusky Flying Lizard

D. ornatus, White-Spotted Flying Lizard

D. palawanensis

D. quadrasi, Quadras' Flying Lizard

D. quinquefasciatus, Five-Lined Flying Dragon

D. reticulatus

D. rhytisma

D. spilonotus

D. spilopterus, Philippine Flying Dragon

D. sumatranus

D. supriatnai

D. taeniopterus, Thai Flying Dragon

D. timorensis

D. volans, Common Flying Dragon

D. walkeri

Scientific Name

Common Name





D. abbreviatus

Singapore, Malaysia

Considered by some authorities to be a synonym of D. fimbriatus: see Reptile Database entry.

D. affinis

Bartlett's Flying Dragon

Indonesia (Borneo)


Currently considered a synonym of D. cornutus: see Reptile Database entry.

D. beccarii


D. biaro

Lazell's Flying Dragon

Indonesia (Sangihe Archipelago)

87-107 mm SVL: max TL 44cm

D. bimaculatus


S Philippines


Scalation details: on each side of the back a series of enlarged, keeled, distant scales.

D. blanfordi

Blanford's Flying Lizard

Indonesia (inc. Borneo, Bali, Java and Sulawesi), Philippines (Mindanao)


The subspecies indochinensis is now considered a full species. Coloration: variable and changeable, but overall green or green with yellow or red spots or vertical bars. Reproduction: 1-2 eggs laid. [SOURCE: Manthey and Schuster]

D. boschmai

Indonesia (inc. Lombik, Komodo, Flores, Sulawesi)

Formerly considered a subspecies of D. volans: see Reptile Database entry.

D. caerulhians





D. cornutus


Indonesia (Borneo, Sumatra, Java)


Scalation details: large spine-like scale on superciliary border; dorsal scales hardly larger than ventral scales. Other: tympanum smaller than eye-opening. [SOURCE: Boulenger]

D. cristatellus

Crested Flying Lizard

Borneo (Sarawak), W Malaysia, Thailand


Scalation details: dorsal scales all smaller than the ventrals; nostril lateral, directed outwards; caudal crest composed of long distant scales. Coloration: male's gular appendage has a brown anterior margin [SOURCE: Boulenger]

D. cyanopterus

Everett's Flying Lizard

Philippines (inc. Mindanao, Bohol and Camiguin)

7½-8cm SVL

This species is described as D. everetti by Alcala: the entry in shows that some authorities have revalidated D. everetti. Found in coconut groves and forests, described as rare by Alcala. Scalation: large spine-like scale on border of superciliary; largest median dorsal scales at least twice as large as ventrals. Other: tympanum as large as eye opening. Coloration (in preservative): dorsally dark grey with brown blotches: ventral surfaces of wing membranes are yellowish-grey, dorsally have dark blotches. Reproduction: no details available.

D. dussumieri

Western Ghats Flying Lizard

SW India (inc. Goa)

TL 23cm 

Found in mainly evergreen biotopes up to 1,500m above sea level, as well as various man-made plantations including coffee estates and teak plantations. Daniel also notes an example found on the roof of a bungalow at nearly 1,300m. Scalation details: none available. Other: gular appendage is finger-like and twice as long in the male, extending beyond the snout when erect; wings have 6 (sometimes 7) ribs.  Coloration: dorsally ash-grey or darker, with a vertebral row of dark circles; pair of transverse bands on top of head; ventrally greenish yellow. Wings dorsally brown except the margin, which is purplish black flecked with yellow; ventrally yellow edged with black. Gular appendage bright lemon yellow. Reproduction: gravid females found July-September: Daniel cites a captive female who laid 4 eggs which took 50 days to hatch. The young were more capable of terrestrial movement than the adult. [SOURCE: Boulenger, Daniel]

D. fimbriatus

Mindanao Flying Lizard

Malaysia (Borneo), Indonesia (Sundas), Philippines, S Thailand

8cm SVL?

A rain forest species, listed by Alcala as rare: his description gives the length as taken from a single male. Scalation: 9-13 supralabials; feeble caudal crest. Other: nostrils directed dorsally; tympanum covered with scales; gular sac in males is short, triangular and pointed at the tip, with posterior edge nearly vertical, and 90-120% or more times the length of the head; wings have 5 ribs. Coloration: dorsally overall brown to greyish-brown with remnants of crossbands; wings brownish, paler than back, with many elongated whitish spots that are arranged roughly in rows and on the folds; gular sac of males is orange-yellow, that of females creamy-yellow. Reproduction: no details available. [SOURCE: Alcala, Boulenger]

D. formosus

S Thailand, W Malaysia

Formerly considered a subspecies of D. obscurus.

D. guentheri


Philippines (inc. Jolo and Mindanao)

8cm SVL

Listed as D. rizali by Alcala, who describes it as rare: the species name has since been synonymised with D. guentheri. Scalation: scales on head are enlarged, strongly keeled and arranged in a Y-shaped formation; dorsal scales about same size as ventrals. Other: nostrils outward, slightly upward and backward; tympanum about same size as eye. Coloration: (f) metallic iridescent grey with narrow blackish reticulations that sometimes form irregular brownish transverse crossbands; a few white lateral spots; large nuchal spot and an interorbital dark spot; tail red to brown with dark brown bars; ventrally cream white with dark reticulations; throat and chin reticulated with bluish markings; wing membranes dorsally black washed with grey, enclosing orange or reddish spots, these last spots becoming darker away from the body; wing membranes ventrally light with several small black spots near the upper and outer borders: (m) overall brilliant green; wings darker with numerous roundish, bluish to yellow-green spts, outer edge light salmon colour washed with grey; head with dark interorbital spot; nuchal spot absent; dark markings present or absent on sides of head; belly and wing membranes salmon to brick red with only one large or small spot on outer edge; gular sac canary yellow with green wash at base and the remainder bright purple to wine coloured; throat and chin reticulated with dark markings; latter reticulation pattern may also be present on belly. Reproduction: no details available. [SOURCE: Alcala,

D. haematopogon

Red-Barbed Flying Dragon

Indonesia (Borneo, Java, Sumatra), Thailand, W Malaysia



D. indochinensis

Philippines (Luzon, Polillo, Mindoro, Panay and Negros)

105-123 mm SVL

Considered by some authorities to be a subspecies of D. blanfordii. Scalation: 10 supralabials; 70-72 midbody scale rows; crests made up of 35-45 long pointed scales; 33-35 subdigital lamellae under 4th toe. Coloration: see closing remarks: Alcala's specimens were presumably preserved in alcohol so this would not give an accurate life description. [SOURCE: Alcala - NB based apparently on 2 specimens and Taylor's 1922 account, although Alcala describes this as a common species].

D. iskandari


See Reptile Database entry.

D. jareckii


Philippines (Batan)



D. lineatus

Lined Flying Dragon, Two-Spotted Flying Lizard

Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines


7-8cm SVL

Listed as common by Alcala. Described as a forest species. The former subspecies beccarii, modiglianii and spilonotus are currently recognised as full species. Scalation: 7-10 supralabials. Other: nostrils directed laterally; tympanum exposed; gular sac in males is wide at the base and pointed at the tip, with anterior edge forming broad convex curve at the base, and 120-175% or more times the length of the head; wings have 5 ribs. Coloration (in preservative): greyish-blue with dark crossbands; large round black spot at angle of jaw; distinct nuchal spot and usually an interorbital spot; wing membranes have large black spots on both dorsal and ventral surfaces and usually a faint continuation of the body crossband. Gular sac in males is darkly marbled on a background of greenish, greenish-grey, bluish-white or yellowish. Reproduction: no details available.

D. l. lineatus

D. l. amboinensis

Indonesia (Amboina Island and Ceram)

D. l. bourouniensis

Indonesia (Buru Island)

D. l. ochropterus

Kei Islands

D. maculatus

Spotted Flying Dragon

S China, India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, W Malaysia

Scalation details: On each side of the back a series of enlarged, keeled, distant scales. Other: tympanum naked; the male's gular appendage much longer than the head [SOURCE: Boulenger]

D. m. maculatus



D. m. divergens

NW Thailand


D. m. haasei

E Thailand, Cambodia, S Vietnam


D. m. whiteheadi

China (Hainan), N Vietnam


D. maximus

Great Flying Dragon

Thailand, W Malaysia, Indonesia (inc. Sunda, Sumatra and Borneo)


D. melanopogon

Black-Barbed Flying Dragon

S Thailand, W Malaysia, Indonesia (inc. Sumatra and Borneo)

SVL 8½cm (m) 9cm (f)

Coloration: greenish with dark markings; wings dorsally black with numerous yellow spots; gular appendage black. Reproduction: 2 eggs usually laid.

D. m. melanopogon

D. m. nigriappendiculatus

D. mindanensis


Philippines (inc. Mindanao and Leyte)


D. modiglianii

Indonesia (Enggano Island)

At one point considered a subspecies of D. lineatus.

D. norvilli


NE India


Formerly considered a subspecies of D. blanfordi.

D. obscurus

Dusky Gliding Lizard

S Thailand, W Malaysia, Indonesia



D. o. obscurus


Indonesia (Borneo and Sumatra)



D. o. laetepictus


Mentawei Islands



D. ornatus

White-Spotted Flying Lizard

Philippines (inc. Bohol, Leyte and Mindanao)

8cm SVL

Listed as rare by Alcala. Described as a forest species, found at intermediate altitudes. Scalation: Y-shaped series of scales on forehead; largest median dorsal scales at least twice as large as the ventrals. Other: tympanum scaled or partially bare, smaller than eye. Coloration (in preservative): (f) lower part of head and throat is mottled; apex of wing marked with black near the edge; wings are dark brown with about 5 irregular rows of white roundish to squarish spots. Reproduction: no details available. [SOURCE: Alcala, Boulenger]

D. palawanensis


Philippines (Palawan)



D. quadrasi

Quadras' Flying Lizard 

Philippines (inc. Mindoro and Romblon)

8-8½cm SVL

Listed as rare by Alcala. The female is the larger in this species. Scalation: Y-shaped series of scales on head, irregular and strongly keeled. Other: snout nearly equals diameter of eye; tympanum covered by small scales that are preceded by a slightly prominent enlarged scale; gular sac longer than head. Coloration (in preservative): dorsally mottled and variegated bluish-green, olive to greyish brown, to lavender, with darker variations; series of dark brown markings along outer series of keeled scales on the sides; prominent black-brown nuchal spot; black interorbital bar; wings black, darkest at outer edge, with greyish transverse lines and many narrow elongated spots which form curved lines running longitudinally; scattered grey spots on outer edge of wing; wings ventrally yellow with a few dark spots; chin light and speckled with brown; gular fold yellow with an oval white spot; belly immaculately iridescent. Reproduction: no details available.

D. quinquefasciatus

Five-Lined Flying Dragon

S Thailand, W Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (inc. Sumatra and Borneo)

10½cm SVL

Coloration: variable, may be brownish, yellowish-green or grey, sometimes with bluish specks; wing membranes dorsally yellow, orange or reddish with 5 black crossbands and a transverse row of light spots. 

D. reticulatus


Philippines (inc. Mindanao, Bohol and Leyte)


Listed by Alcala as D. volans reticulatus: see D. volans for the overall description. Coloration: dorsally bluish, greenish or greenish-grey, usually with indistinct irregular transverse bands; dark interorbital spot; dark nuchal spot present or absent; wing membranes in males a network with reddish-orange centres; irregular black spot at anterior edge or below; gular sac in males is purplish to brownish at the base and yellow or orange at tip.

D. rhytisma


Indonesia (Banggai in Sulawesi)


Found only on Banggai Island. Strongly sexually dimorphic: female is brown-grey while male is striking green. No other information available.

D. spilonotus

D. spilopterus

Philippine Flying Dragon, Common Flying Lizard

Indonesia (Sunda, Borneo), Philippines (inc. Cebu, Luzon, Negros, Panay and Polillo, poss. Mindoro)

7-9½cm SVL

Listed as common by Alcala. Found in coconut groves, orchards and forested areas up to 1100m above sea level. Scalation: 8-12 supralabials; no orbital spines; largest median dorsal scales at least twice as large as the ventrals. Other: nostrils directed laterally; tympanum almost completely covered; gular sac in males is triangular, pointed, with both anterior and posterior margins slanted, and 120% or more times the length of the head; wings have 6 ribs; snout not longer than the diameter of the orbit. Coloration: dorsally brown to greyish-brown: irregular light interorbital bar; irregular dark crossbars on body that may be reduced to a series of spots; wing-membranes above with small round black spots; ventral surface of wing membranes are in males orange-yellow with three irregular black spots and faint radiating lines, and in females light yellow with light elongated spots arranged in 8-9 or so readiating lines. Gular sac may be whitish to yellow or orange. Reproduction: female lays 3-6 eggs per clutch on average. Hatchlings reach sexual maturity in about 7 months. [SOURCE: Alcala, Boulenger]

D. sumatranus

Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore

Formerly considered a subspecies of D. volans: see Reptile Database entry.

D. supriatnai


D. taeniopterus

Thai Flying Dragon

S Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia



D. timoriensis

Indonesia (inc. Timor-Leste)

Formerly considered a subspecies of D. volans: see Reptile Database entry.

D. volans

Common Flying Dragon, Malay Flying Lizard

Indonesia (Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Timor), W Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines (Palawan), Singapore, Vietnam

8-9cm SVL

Listed as common by Alcala. Found on trees in forest and coconut groves. The subspecies boschmai, sumatranus and timoriensis are now considered full species. Scalation: 6-13 supralabials. Other: nostrils directed laterally; tympanum mostly exposed, smaller than eye-opening; gular sac in males is triangular, sharply-pointed, with the posterior edge nearly perpendicular except at the base, and 1-1½ times the length of the head; wings have 6 ribs. Coloration: dorsally bluish, greenish or greenish-grey, usually with indistinct irregular transverse bands; dark interorbital spot; dark nuchal spot present or absent; wing membranes dorsally reddish-orange in males, deep yellow in females, ventrally greenish-yellow to blue; irregular black spot at anterior edge or below; gular sac in males is blue at the base , usually with some dark spots, and purplish at tip. Reproduction: no details available. [SOURCE: Alcala, Boulenger]

D. walkeri

Indonesia (Sulawesi)

Previously synonymous with D. lineatus beccarii: see Reptile Database entry.


Guide to Philippine Flora and Fauna. Volume X, Amphibians and Reptiles, Prof. Angel C Alcala, Natural Resources Management Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and University of the Philippines, 1986. Note that B. cristatella and B. marmorata are listed respectively in this work as Calotes cristatellatus and Calotes marmoratus.

The Book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians, J C Daniel, Bombay Natural History Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002.

"Zwischenbericht über die Herpetofauna Sulawesis unter besonder Berücksichtigung der Gattung Varanus: phylogeographische Beziehungen zu angrenzenden Gebieten" [Interim report on the herpetofauna of Sulawesi with special regard to the genus Varanus: phylogeographic relationships to neighbouring areas], André Koch, Evy Arida & Wolfgang Böhme, Elaphe 15:3

Lizards of the World: A Checklist. 5: Agamidae, Chamaeleonidae, Cordylidae and Gerrhosauridae, K R G Welch, KCM Books, Somerset, England, 1994.


One thing that has concerned me is finding at least one site on the Net that suggests Draco species can be kept alive by feeding them mealworms and crickets. The general consensus is that this is impossible: ant-eating lizards such as these tend to have this diet more or less exclusively, and to fade fast if this requirement is not met. If anyone has proof to the contrary, especially if they can cite a reputable literature source, I would be interested to hear from them.