Draco or Gliding Lizard, Agumbe, Western Ghats, Karnataka

Chetan Rao


Chetan Rao

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Although incapable of a strong flight, these lizards can glide as long as 60 m (200 ft) which is quite a distance, considering that one lizard is approximately 20 cm (7.9 in) in total length, tail included.

Draco or gliding lizard (Draco dussumieri) is an agamid lizard endemic to the  Western Ghats and Northeast India. They are primarily arboreal and occur in rainforests and plantations like areca nut, rubber, etc. It has a membrane called a patagium around its belly which extends to create wings that help it glide across tall canopies. Interestingly, within the Western Ghats, they do not occur beyond the Goa gap, a significant biogeographic barrier between Goa and South Maharashtra, due to the absence of tall trees with high canopies. 

Their diet is largely comprised of ants and termites. They are abundant throughout their range and have no special conservation status. However they, like other reptiles, are threatened by the same major factors — habitat loss, agriculture, logging, urban development, and invasive species — although the threat posed by climate change remains uncertain. In an assessment published in 2022, it was found that reptiles inhabiting forests, where these threats are strongest, are more threatened than those in arid habitats.

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