Today’s Tropical Thursday, National Museum Bohol features a common sight in the tropical forests of Bohol and in coconut plantations, the Spotted Philippine Dragon (Draco bimaculatus).
The Spotted Philippine Dragon is locally called in Bohol as Ambubukag, an arboreal animal that spends most of his life on the canopies of the trees in tropical forests. It belongs to the family Agamidae, a group of lizards that is endemic to Southeast Asia.
There are 10 species of Draco that is known in the Philippines. They are called flying lizards because of their ability to glide from one tree to another. It can move to a distance of 8-9 meters of gliding using its wing-like patagium attached at each side of its body and supported by an elongated rib. They have dewlap and throat lappets located under the head used during displaying of aggression on a territorial dispute and courtship among male and female lizards.
Females of Draco are a bit larger than the males. Adult female lizards are known to reach lengths of up to 103.0 mm, while the males reach 89.5 mm from the tip of the snout to their vent (base of its tail). Adult lizards start to mate during the cold season which started in a courtship. They will display their colorful dewlaps and spread their patagium with the male encircling the female three times with a bobbing motion before their copulation.
These species do not come down to the grounds, they prefer to stay on the trees, but female lizards only come down to the grounds to lay their eggs on the holes they dig using their fore and hindlimbs and stay on guard for about 24 hours to protect the eggs. The heat from the earth incubates the eggs for 32 days, then baby lizards go up the trees to start their own lives.
The Spotted Philippine dragons have a useful function in our ecosystem as they can help control the population of insects such as termites, ants, and most especially those that can damage trees. A prevalent local belief among rural folks in many regions of the country is that the flesh of Draco lizards has medicinal properties and is especially effective to cure asthma.
Did you know that our National Hero Jose Rizal was also a Zoologist? During his exile in Dapitan from 1892-1896, he collected different specimens of assorted animals and sent them to Dresden Museum including a Flying Dragon which in turn was named after him, called Draco rizali.
Source: @natmuseumbohol via Text by NMP Bohol with contributions from Arvin C. Diesmos | NMP Zoology Division
Photo: courtesy of Arvin C. Diesmos