We’ve written before about the tambokaka (flying lizards) of Siargao island. Recently I was able to get some better photos of this particular species named Draco cyanopterus and some of its diagnostic features. While this lizard is familiar to Siargao natives, the range map for this species doesn’t include Siargao and we’ve received some interest from the scientific community about our documentation efforts.
Draco cyanopterus (there’s no English name that I’m aware of) seems to prefer the edges of secondary forest and coconut plantations. It is seen here on a gmelina tree (Gmelina arborea) very close to our front porch. We often observe it on the trunks of coconut palms and on mango tree branches as well.
Draco cyanopterus has a distinctly colored dewlap which you can see clearly in these photos. The dewlap (also known as a throat fan or gular flag) is used for behavioral displays as well as horizontal stabilization during ‘flight’. In Draco cyanopterus this dewlap is a pale ruddy-brown with white spots near the base and has a yellow tip.
While called a flying lizard it of, of course, doesn’t use powered flight but glides between trees using the membrane which stretches over its ribs. This membrane is called a patagium. The large chartreuse patches on the dorsal patagium allow us to positively identify this flying lizard in the photos as Draco cyanopterus.
The flying lizards, also called flying dragons, are known to feed mostly on ants and termites.
Draco cyanopterus has been previously recorded on the eastern part of mainland Mindanao and on the islands of Camiguin and Dinagat as well. This, however, seems to be the first confirmed sighting on Siargao island. We at wildsiargao are happy to share our finding with the interested scientific community and hope to see the range map for this species officially extended to include Siargao island. We’ll be sure to keep our readers up to date with any newly published documentation!