Southern Flying Lizard

Southern Flying Lizard, more commonly known as the Draco, are amazing reptiles found across the Western Ghats and other hill forests of southern India. They have this unique ability to glide from tree to tree , something akin to flying, thus getting their name. They are most commonly seen climbing up on tree trunks amidst something like the arecanut plantations.

A Draco’s day begins just as the light of morning sun starts streaming in through the canopy. Starting at about the lower middle of the tree trunk, the Draco makes its way up the tree, en-route, gorging on the numerous ants that keep crawling up and down the trunk. Once it makes it to the top of the tree, it glides on to another tree nearby and repeats this process. While on a tree, that tree’s trunk becomes the Draco’s bastion and it defends the same, quite aggressively. It extends the gular sac, the membrane on its throat, as a means of communicating its threat or a courtship intent.


Normal, was how the day started, one fine morning in Agumbe, for a male Draco, the star of this story. However, things weren’t to be quite so normal. It was to be one really hard day for him.

As always, he starts climbing up the trunk of a tree, happily feeding on the crawling ants. As he is about 3/4th’s up, he notices that another Draco has come on to the same tree and is feasting on the ants out there. He doesn’t feel good about this and decides to defend his territory. So, he darts down the tree trunk, with his gular sac stretched, as a way of indicating threat.



He even runs around the intruder, in a circle, trying his best to intimidate that fellow. He goes about this a couple of times. But, the intruder doesn’t seem to be affected in the least. On the contrary, he seems quite relaxed and goes about munching on the ants.


After a few more valiant attempts to scare the intruder off go in vain, our hero gives up and glides off to another tree close by.

Things weren’t going to be fine just as yet, because, another surprise was in store for our hero. The tree on which he just arrived, seems to have an occupant, already and it looks like a female.


Our hero, now, gets into a different mood and tries his hand at impressing the female, by stretching his gular sac and displaying it to her, as a hint of courtship. Alas, it was to be a disappointment for our hero, as the female brings about a display, stretching her patagial membrane ( the wings ), something that seemed like total disapproval. He attempts to entice her a few more times, but she wouldn’t budge. She didn’t seem to be interested and makes her thoughts loud and clear.

After this, there  seemed to be no other option for our hero, but to abandon that tree as well. So, he decides that he has had enough and glides off to a tree far away  from here.

It was wonderful to observe the behavior of these Dracos and this post is an attempt at sharing that experience of mine through a photo story.


 Prasad Np

Santhosh: It is always a pleasure and eyeopener to visit your blog. All your pictures and storytelling are wonderful and it is so nice to see somebody focusing beyond the big cats…. 🙂
Reply to Prasad Np

Thanks a lot for your kind words Prasad !….yeah, i do try to somehow get away from the big cat madness 🙂
Reply to Santhosh

A good article Santosh and also lovely images! I had never seen the Draco female and that too spreading her membrane was quite fascinating to see 🙂
Reply to Parimala

GitHub-flavored Markdown & a sane subset of HTML is supported.