Insects can fly. Birds can fly. Bats can fly too and they’re mammals. There are even some fish that can fly. At the time of the dinosaurs there were some reptiles that could fly – the pterosaurs. But can the lizards alive today fly? Well, yes – at least, some of them glide.
There are 42 known species of draco who get their name from the Latin word for dragon. They’re also known as flying lizards. They live in the jungles of Southeast Asia where they get around by gliding from tree to tree.
Flying lizards have a membrane of skin which sticks out from their sides looking, for all intents and purposes, like a pair of wings or a hang-glider. Climbing to a high spot they throw themselves into the air, extend their flaps and steer with their tails. It’s a great system and flying lizards can cover distances of up to 60 metres in one glide. Considering dracos are only 20cm long, that’s quite a way!
Dracos spend almost their entire lives in the treetops. In fact, only the females ever go down to the forest floor. When it’s time for her to lay her eggs she’ll climb down, make a small hole in the ground, deposit her clutch of two to five eggs, bury them, then return to the trees. Her young are left to fend for themselves. As soon as they’re capable of climbing, they’ll join the adult dracos up above.
Male flying lizards jealously guard their territory. Each one ‘owns’ a few trees which he will defend fiercely from rival males. Any females in his ‘patch’ become his alone to mate with.
As well as for flying, dracos also use their ‘wings’ for display. Most have brightly coloured membranes which are thought to attract members of the opposite sex. They’re also coloured for camouflage against the forest backdrop. But even if they are spotted by a predator, such as a monkey, flying lizards can make a quick getaway by leaping to safety and then leisurely gliding to a more peaceful part of the forest.
So now, courtesy of Education Quizzes, you know that lizards can fly – along with fish and mammals. Tell that to your teacher today!