They may not be as fearsome as the fabled fire-breathing, winged mythical dragon, but these 10 spectacular animals are real dragons.
The seven species of Bearded dragons are medium-sized lizards of the genus Pogona, that are native to Australia. They inhabit rocky, dry open woodlands and semi-desert of the region. These real dragons are characterized by their triangular-shape heads, large mouths, and thorn-like scales arranged in rows and clusters. Adults bearded dragons can reach 410 to 610 mm long from head to tail and weigh between 350 to 600 grams. They are adept climbers, run on all four legs, and can change color from gray to black when threatened. These reptiles are omnivorous, feeding on small insects, lizards, other small animals, fruits and flowers. One species, the Pogona vitticeps, are often kept as pets.
The Flying Dragon (Draco volans) is any species of small gliding lizards of the genus Draco. These real dragons are found inhabiting rain forests of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and India. These reptiles are known for their ability to glide from tree to tree by spreading layers of skin attached to its movable ribs to form “wings”. Its wings, acting as camouflage when folded, are vibrantly colored with blue, yellow, and red spots and stripes. The flying dragon can grow up to 19 – 23 cm long and has a wingspan of 3/4 of its body length. This tree-dwelling lizard feeds on arboreal ants and termites.
Chinese Water Dragon
Chinese Water Dragons (Physignathus cocincinus), also referred to as Asian Water Dragons, Green Water Dragons, and Thai Water Dragons are arboreal reptiles found in the Southeast Asian mainland. They inhabit the river banks in rainforests and swamps. Adult males can measure up to 90 cm (3 ft) long, but 2/3 of this is tail length. Colors range from dark to light green with characteristic diagonal stripes of pale green or aqua/turquoise on the body. The flattened tail is brown and green in color. The Chinese Water Dragon tail is use for balance, climbing trees and defense against predators. It feeds mainly on insects and at times small fish, small mammal or other reptile.
Boyd’s Forest Dragon
Boyd’s Forest Dragon (Hypsilurus boydii or Gonocephalus boydii) is a small dragon confined to the rainforests of northern Queensland, Australia. Unlike other reptiles, this “angle-headed dragon” doesn’t bask in the sun and spend most of its time rested on the trunks of trees. This real dragon is known for its unique ‘dinosaur-like’ appearance. Boyd’s Forest dragon has a crest on its head, large, bloated cheek scales, a prominent crest, and a yellow dewlap under its jaw line. Adults can reach up to 60 cm in length. Its diet includes earthworms, insects and will occasionally eat ripe fruit.
The frilled dragon or the frill-necked lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), is a large agamid found mainly in northern Australia and southern New Guinea. It lives in humid climates such as those in dry forests and savannah woodlands. This beautiful real dragon is famous for the large ruff of skin around its neck, which usually lies folded back against its body. Color and size vary depending on species, but typically the lizard’s body is darker than its frill. On average, adults measures around 91.4 cm in length from head to tail and weigh up to 0.5 kilograms. A tree-dwelling reptile, Frilled dragon’s feeds mainly on insects, spiders, other lizards, and small mammals.
Philippine Sail-Fin Water Dragon
The Philippine Sailfin Lizard (Hydrosaurus pustulatus),also known as the Philippine Sailfin Lizard, Crested Lizard, or Soa-soa Water Lizard, is a large, oviparous lizard native only in the Philippines. This real dragon, noted for its somewhat spectacular appearance lives in the tropical jungles besides waters such as streams, rivers , rice fields, etc. Adults can reach up to a meter long with a long tail characterized by large tooth-like scales on the back and tail. The Philippine Sailfin Lizard is normally mottled greenish-grey in color with yellowish patches on the sides and under the head. An omnivore, its diet includes insects, fish, frogs, small vertebrates, fruit, leaves, and flowers.
Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus), also known as the Thorny Dragon, Mountain Devil, or the Moloch is a small Australian lizard. Its distinguishable feature is its two large horned scales on the head and the scary array of spikes covering its entire body. On average, a female Thorny Devil measures about 15-20 cm in length. Females are bigger than males. This odd-looking lizard has a relatively unusual eating as well as drinking habits. It feeds primarily on ants and is capable of consuming about 3000 ants in one sitting! With its ridge body structure, it collects moisture at night time, normally from forming dew drops.
Australian Water Dragon
The Australian Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii), is an arboreal lizard native to Australia found living near rivers, streams, creeks and lakes. Known for its arm-waving, basking, and head-bobbing antics, this shy lizard uses its long, powerful limbs and claws for climbing and long sturdy tail for swimming. Adult females measure to about 60 cm in length with the tail about 2/3 of its entire length. Males can reach 1 kg in weight and have larger heads than females. Young Australian water dragon feeds on ants, caterpillars, crickets, and spiders. Adult ones go for bigger prey including small rodents and other small mammals.
The Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis), is a large lizard native to Indonesia specifically on the islands of Komodo, Lesser Sunda Islands of Rinca, and Flores. It lives in tropical forests, savannas, and dry open grassland. The heaviest living lizard in the world, over 3 meters in length and weighs about 91 kilograms. Komodo dragon has long, flat head, scaly skin, rounded snout, sharp serrated teeth, bowed legs, and big, sturdy tail. Though it has a poor sense of hearing, the Komodo dragon has a keen sense of smell and uses its tongue to detect, taste, and smell stimuli. A known carnivore, it feeds on mammals, birds, and other invertebrates.
Southern Angle-Headed Dragon
The Southern Angle-Headed Dragon (Hypsilurus spinipes), is prehistoric-looking dragon native to eastern Australia. This arboreal lizard lives in rainforest and wet eucalypt forests — clinging to vines and small trees. It is easily distinguished by a raised vertebral crest and spines on the neck. On average, an adult Southern Angle Headed Dragon measures about 40 cm in length including the long tail. Its diet includes beetles, cockroaches and spiders.