Episode 233 – Draco Lizard: Falling with Style

“…and today we’re talking about a little lizard that does more than leap! But more on that later.”

Man’s imagination has run wild with the idea of magical flying lizards for almost a thousand years. Dragons are a part of the mythos of cultures all over the world, but they never thought that true flying lizards would be quite this small. The Draco lizard isn’t bound by petty morality or gravity. This scaly critter takes what it wants, and what it wants to take is flight. Find out how this lizard is able to fall with style here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Draco Lizard

  • Dracos have thin, dark-colored bodies that are similar in shape to a common anole. 
  • Their heads are wide diamond or almond shapes.
  • Their tails are the same length as their bodies or longer. 
  • Draco dewlaps are bright yellow.
  • Different members of the genus have varied color patterns that help them camouflage on trees and in bushes. 

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We do have a new Measure Up intro from Nora!


  • 20 cm (7.9 in)
  • How many Draco Lizards go into the diameter of the larger of the two craters left by the mysterious rocket chunk that hit the moon in March?
  • Hint: In March, a stage of a rocket crash landed on the lunar surface. We don’t know what rocket it’s or why it managed to make two craters instead of one. If it was a particular type of Chinese rocket that was launched in 2014 with a weighted front to simulate a lunar lander, it could explain the double crater. Chinese officials deny that the rocket piece was theirs.
  • 91 lizards. The crater was 20 yards (18.2 meters).


  • 0.73 ounces (20 grams)
  • How many Draco Lizards go into the weight of the Ark of the Covenant?
  • Hint: The weight of the Ark isn’t recorded, but its dimensions and material makeup are recorded in Exodus 25 quite specifically. Some suggest the Ark was thousands of pounds, requiring supernatural strength for four men to carry. But the Bible says it is made of acacia wood that is covered in pure gold inside and out. Based on the fact that Egyptians were able to purify gold to around 24K at that time an approximate weight can be calculated, and the Ark was likely a manageable weight for normal men.
  • 4,010.9 lizards. Estimates put the Ark at 183lbs (83 Kg).

Fast Facts about the Draco Lizard

Draco lizards are found all over Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

The Sulawesi Draco is found in… you guessed it… Sulawesi. They primarily live in trees and prefer densely forested areas, especially rainforests. 

Dracos are insectivores and they particularly like ants and termites. 

These little drakes are highly territorial. Each male has a home range that includes a few nearby trees. Males guard the trees against treeless males who are forced to search for unoccupied areas. 

Females are able to go wherever they want. Females also prefer to stay in trees, but they lay eggs on the ground. They dig a hole in soft soil with their heads.

She will lay up to five eggs, and then guard the nest for a full day before leaving the eggs forever.

Major Fact: Dragon Tales

It should come as a surprise to no one that the major fact for this scaly boy is the fact that it can fly!

Well, it can’t technically fly, but it can fall with some serious style. There are actually no existing reptiles that can really fly, but they can fall with style.

But the Draco lizard has some extra linens stored in its armpits for quick getaways.

When it’s threatened, or just to get somewhere quickly, Draco Malfoy can leap from whatever astronomy tower he’s brooding in and take to the skies as he glides over the forest floor.

After jumping, he’ll arch his back, which causes his elongated ribs to expand outward and unfurl his patagial sail.

He then reaches back and grabs the edge of the patagium and keeps it steady—like batman

During this glide, Draco can reach speeds up to 17 mph! And they can make it up to 160 feet in one glide.

Once he reaches the ground or another tree, he’ll pitch his body upward so that his feet land first and his momentum slows down. Turns out hitting things at lizard Mach 1 can hurt real bad.

Larger Draco lizards don’t have proportionally large patagia so they aren’t able to glide as long or as easily as the smaller bros.

Ending: Make good use of your skin flaps, unfold your ribs, and take to the skies like the Draco lizard here in LDT.