Lizards that look like Dragons

Table of Contents

Lizards form a diverse group of scaly-skinned reptiles ranging in body shape and size. Usually, lizards differ from snakes because they have legs, eyelids which move, and external ear openings. However, these features are not found in a few lizards.

 

Nevertheless, the majority of lizards, such as dragon lizards, goannas , geckos , and skinks , are certainly captivating! In fact, a few present-day lizards look like smaller versions of mythical creatures known as dragons. Here is a list of lizards with unique features which make them similar to these mythical creatures!

1. Armadillo Girdled Lizard

The armadillo girdled  lizard belongs to the country of South Africa. This lizard is about 25 centimeters (10 inches) long and is covered by hard, bony scales and spines on the head and tail. When threatened, the armadillo lizard has the special ability to roll into a ball by holding its tail in its mouth, showing a potential predator its hard scales.

Armadillo Girdled Lizard
The defensive position of an armadillo girdled lizard. Credit: Handre Basson/Wikimedia Commons

2. Bearded Dragon

Native to the continent of Australia, there are eight known species of bearded dragons. Bearded dragons range from 45 to 55 centimeters (18 to 22 inches) in length. As their name suggests, bearded dragons have a “beard” of spikes below their chins, and it puffs up based on their moods. Bearded dragons change the color of their beards and bob their heads in order to communicate with each other.

Bearded Dragon Lizard
A bearded dragon lizard. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3. Chinese Water Dragon

The Chinese water dragon—also called the Asian, Thai, or green water dragon—is a native of the countries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, and southern China. This green-colored lizard has high, hornlike spikes that extend from its head to the base of its flat tail. Although it may reach lengths of 1 meter (3 feet), its tail makes up to 70 percent of its total length.

Chinese Water dragon
A Chinese water dragon with its distinct spikes. Credit: Rushenb/Wikimedia Commons

4. Common Flying Dragon

The common flying dragon is a lizard found in the tropical rainforests of southern India and Southeast Asia. As its name suggests, the common flying dragon has a large set of “wings” for “flight” as it jumps from one tree to another. This lizard ranges from 20 cm (7 in) to 22 cm (8.7 in) in length. Apart from “wings,” the common flying lizard also has a flap of skin below its head called a dewlap , which is used for communication or display .

Common Flying lizard
The flight of a common flying dragon (Draco lizard). Credit: J. Maximilian Dehling/Wikimedia Commons,

5. Crested Gecko

The crested gecko is a native of New Caledonia, an archipelago  located to the east of Australia. The species was first described in 1866, and was considered extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994. Crested geckos are also called eyelash geckos because of a distinct row of hairlike projections above the eyes, similar to eyelashes. Two rows of spines are also seen on these geckos, extending from the sides of their heads to the base of their tails.

Crested gecko
A crested gecko or an eyelash gecko. Credit: : Lennart Hudel/Wikimedia Commons

6. Four-Horned Chameleon

Four-horned chameleons are native to the African country of Cameroon. Four-horned chameleons are also called the Cameroon bearded chameleons or “quads.” This species may extend from 25 to 35 centimeters (10 to 14 inches) in length. Although named four-horned chameleons, this species may have as few as one horn and as many as six or more horns. Another unique feature of this species is the presence of a row of large projections on its back extending from its head to its tail, known as the high dorsal crest .

Four horned chameleon
A four horned chameleon. Credit: Alexander Koenig/Wikimedia Commons

7. Frilled Dragon

The frilled dragon—also called by the names frilled-neck lizard, frilled lizard, or frilled agama—is known for its neck frill , or the extra flap of skin around its neck. Upon feeling threatened, this lizard raises the neck frill to intimidate predators. This species is 3 feet (0.9 meters) long and is found in northern Australia and New Guinea. Although it is commonly assumed to be venomous, this lizard has no poison to spit.

Frilled dragon
A frilled dragon raising its neck frill. Credit: Matt/Wikimedia Commons

8. Green Basilisk

The green basilisk is also called the plumed basilisk or the double-crested basilisk. This bright green lizard reaches 3 feet (90 centimeters) in length and is found in the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The green basilisk has projections called crests behind its eyes, on the back of the head, on its back, and on its tail. A unique characteristic of these lizards is their ability to run up to 7 miles (11.3 kilometers) per hour. It can run so fast, and is so light, that it can run on the surface of the water—this behavior gives it another name: the Jesus Christ lizard.

 

A male green basilisk or plumed basilisk. Credit: Connor Long/Wikimedia Commons

9. Green Iguana

Green iguanas are tree-dwelling lizards found in Central and South America. Although these lizards are only 17 to 25 centimeters (6 to 9 inches) at birth, they reach up to 2 meters in adulthood. Although named green iguanas, they may also be bright orange or brown in color. This species also has a flap under its throat called the dewlap. Spines are also seen on the back of green iguanas, from the neck to the base of the tail.

Green Iguana
A male green iguana with its spines and dewlap. Credit: Manuel de Corselas/Wikimedia Commons

10. Jackson's Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon was first described in 1896 and is a species native to East Africa. Jackson’s chameleons are sometimes called the three-horned chameleons because the males have three horns: one on the nose and two on top of the ridges above each eye. Female three- horned chameleons usually have no horns. Another distinct characteristic of this species is the presence of a tongue which may be almost twice the length of the body.

Jackson's chameleon
A Jackson’s chameleon. Credit: Forest and Kim Star/Wikimedia Commons

11. Komodo Dragon

The Komodo dragon is famous for being the biggest lizard on Earth, reaching lengths of 10 feet (3 meters) and weights of more than 300 pounds (140 kilograms) in adulthood. Komodo dragons have been around for millions of years and are only found in the wild in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. In the wild, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage  to hunt anything they can find and may eat as much as 80% of their body weight at once.

A Komodo dragon with its forked tongue sticking out. Credit: Mark Dumont/Wikimedia Commons

12. Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko gets its name from its striking leopard-like pattern and is found in the dry grassland and desert regions of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. This lizard species ranges from 18–28 centimeters (7–11 inches) in length. Leopard geckos in the wild have a darker and duller coloring than those kept as pets. Leopard geckos in captivity usually have varying skin colors and patterns.

The leopard gecko with its distinct coloration. Credit: Matt Reinbold/Wikimedia Commons

13. Northern Caiman Lizard

The northern caiman lizard, also called the Dracaena lizard, has two sub species: the northern caiman lizard and the Paraguay caiman lizard. Originating from South America, this lizard is known to be an excellent swimmer and is also called the “water tegus.” This lizard may range from two to five feet (0.6 to 1.5 meters) in length and has a scaly hide-like alligator. Each of the two subspecies has different traits and varies in their coloring.

Northern_caiman_lizard
A northern caiman lizard swimming in water. Credit: Nesnad/Wikimedia Commons

14. Parson’s Chameleon

The Parson’s chameleon is found only in the African country of Madagascar and is the largest chameleon on Earth. This chameleon has a tongue which can extend up to twice the length of its body, which is around 69.5 centimeters (about 27 inches) long. This chameleon lacks external ears, but can sense noise in the surroundings through an internal sensor.

A Parson’s chameleon. Credit: Steve Wilson/Wikimedia Commons

15. Philippine Sailfin Lizard

The Philippine sailfin lizard is also called the crested lizard, sail-fin lizard, sailfin water lizard, soa-soa water lizard, or “ibid.” This lizard is a native a few of the islands of the Philippines and is found New Guinea and some parts of Eastern Indonesia as well. This species is patterned with bright colors which makes it attractive to the eye. It is also an excellent swimmer.

Philippine sailfin lizard
A Philippine sailfin lizard. Credit: MFKI/Wikimedia Commons

Flesch Kincaid Grade Level: 7.9

 

Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease: 65.8

Glossary

Goannas: a type of lizard common in Australia

 

Geckos: a small nocturnal lizard with wide feet having adhesive pads

 

Skinks: a lizard with short or no limbs, typically burrowing in sand

Girdled: encircled with a girdle (a belt or strap)

 

Dewlap: a flap of skin below the throat or neck

 

Display: a form of communication or signalling

 

High dorsal crest: a row of projections on the back of certain lizard species

 

Archipelago: a group of islands

 

Neck frill: a cape-like flap around the neck to frighten predators

 

Camouflage: concealment, disguised, or hiding

 

Subspecies: a taxonomic group within a species; maybe populations which live in different areas or vary to some extent

“10 Examples Animals like Dragons (Pictures).” Wildlife Informer, 9 Sept. 2022, https://wildlifeinformer.com/animals-like-dragons/.

 

“Armadillo Lizard.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/animal/armadillo-lizard.

 

Arsdale, Michael Van. “Draco Volans (Common Flying Dragon).” Animal Diversity Web, https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Draco_volans/.

 

“Asian Water Dragon.” Smithsonian’s National Zoo, 10 Jan. 2020, https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/asian-water-dragon.

 

“Bearded Dragons.” Animals, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/facts/bearded-dragon.

 

“Caiman Lizard.” AZ Animals, 28 June 2021, https://a-z-animals.com/animals/caiman-lizard/.

 

“Common Leopard Gecko.” Common Leopard Gecko – Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on Animalia.bio, https://animalia.bio/common-leopard-gecko.

 

“Crested Gecko.” bio, https://animalia.bio/crested-gecko.

 

Davison, Linda. “Four-Horned Chameleons.” Reptiles Magazine, 3 June 2020, https://reptilesmagazine.com/four-horned-chameleons/.

 

“Differences between Dragon Lizards, Goannas, Geckos and Skinks.” Black Snake Productions, 23 June 2017, https://blacksnakeproductions.com.au/differences-between-dragon-lizards-goannas-geckos-and-skinks/.

 

“Frilled Lizard.” AZ Animals, 28 Oct. 2022, https://a-z-animals.com/animals/frilled-lizard/.

 

Gingell, Fred. “Iguana Iguana (Common Green Iguana).” Animal Diversity Web, https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Iguana_iguana/.

 

“Green Crested Basilisk.” Smithsonian’s National Zoo, 6 May 2020, https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/green-crested-basilisk.

 

“Horned Lizard.” AZ Animals, 21 May 2021, https://a-z-animals.com/animals/horned-lizard/.

 

“Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma Spp..).” Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_horned_lizard.php.

 

“Jackson’s Chameleon.” Jackson’s Chameleon – Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on Animalia.bio, https://animalia.bio/jacksons-chameleon.

 

“Komodo Dragon.” Animals, https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/facts/komodo-dragon.

 

“Lizard.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/animal/lizard.

 

“Philippine Sailfin Lizard.” bio, https://animalia.bio/philippine-sailfin-lizard.

 

Sil, Akash. “Parson’s Chameleon Facts, Size, Diet, Pictures.” Animal Spot, 24 Aug. 2021, https://www.animalspot.net/parsons-chameleon.html.

 

Smith, Melissa. “17 Pets You Can Legally Own That Look like Dragons.” PetHelpful, 29 Apr. 2022, https://pethelpful.com/exotic-pets/Lizards-that-look-like-dragons.

Contributors

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